How to prevent spam complaints

Tips for sending emails that keep your spam complaint rate low

Damon Foster avatar
Written by Damon Foster
Updated over a week ago

Spam complaints can have a detrimental impact on your email reputation. Below, we'll show you how to reduce the number of spam complaints your app receives. 

What is a spam complaint? 

A spam complaint occurs when an email recipient reports a "this is spam" inside their email client. If Intercom receives a spam complaint for a message from your app, we'll prevent that user from receiving emails from your app ever again. 

Why do spam complaint rates matter?

Spam complaint rates are a clear measure of the sending performance of your app. A high number of spam complaints indicate that the email recipients didn't understand why they received the email, didn't believe they should have received it or didn't know how to unsubscribe.

See who unsubscribed from your emails

You can see how many and which customers unsubscribed from your emails after receiving a particular email. Just click into that email, select the ‘Failed’ message stat, then click ‘Marked as spam.' 

How to prevent spam complaints

Intercom is designed to help you make personal, valuable connections with your customers. Here are some tips to help you keep your spam complaint rates low:

  1. Always include unsubscribe links: We'll automatically apply an unsubscribe link to auto messages and manual messages with over 100 recipients. The links are clearly placed in our default templates. If you're using your own templates, don't try to hide the unsubscribe link.

  2. Transparency: Make it clear why the recipient is receiving the email. You can add a line of text at the bottom of the message to explain that the person opted in to your newsletter. It should always be obvious to the recipient why you're messaging them.

  3. Frequency: If you are sending messages on an irregular schedule, your subscribers won't know when to expect the email. If you leave big gaps between your messages, they might forget why you are messaging them. Stick to a regular schedule of messaging.

  4. Message active users: Sending large volumes of email to disengaged users can actually damage your brand and your sender reputation. It's best practice to send messages to engaged users. You can target customers who were "Last Seen" less than 180 days ago, for example.

  5. Always get permission: You must have a recipient’s permission to contact them with marketing communications. If you don’t, then Intercom considers that email as spam, with no exceptions. We recognize the Spamhaus definition of spam — please read it if you’re unsure.

  6. Send relevant content: If recipients don't see your content as valuable, you'll see an increase in complaints. Know your audience and make your content relevant and personal. Don't send large, impersonal email blasts. It's not the Intercom way! 😉 

  7. Using high quality lists: Intercom doesn't tolerate the use of purchased, rented, scraped or borrowed lists. If you have an old list, you may be messaging users who have disengaged from your product. We recommend cleaning your list every 6 months.

What is considered a high spam complaint rate?

There will always be users who will mark a message as spam when they have genuinely opted in. A healthy spam complaint rate is about 0.02% which allows for 2 in every 10,000 messages to be marked as spam.

If we see a particularly poor performance in this area, we reserve the right to suspend email sending on your app while this is investigated.

Supporting email clients' built in unsubscription methods

Any email sent from Intercom which is not a 1:1 email will always include a list unsubscribe header. We do this as it positively impacts deliverability for emails.

Some ESPs like Gmail turn this header into an unsubscribe button even when there isn't one embedded within the email.

What's next?

  • Check out our Email Sending Guidelines for more tips.

  • If you would like help reducing your spam complaint rate, get in touch by mailing us at and we'll try our best to help you through.


Need more help? Get support from our Community Forum
Find answers and get help from Intercom Support and Community Experts

Did this answer your question?