Acceptable Spam Report Rate
August 18, 2018
An Email Marketing Glossary Entry

What is an Acceptable Spam Report Rate?

The spam report rate is the ratio of spam reported against a sender's account. The level at which such a rate is deemed "acceptable" is set at 0.1%.


  1. You send 5000 emails over a month.
  2. Five recipients complaint (through various means: see "what counts as reported spam" below) that your message is spam.
  3. Your spam report rate is 0.1%, which is within the limit of "acceptable."

What counts as "reported spam."

ooopsAn email message counts as reported spam whenever a recipient complains about it. Recipients can report spam in one of the following ways:

  1. Using the link provided by the sender's email platform.
  2. Reporting to the email provider in the absence of the above)
  3. Reporting the offender directly to the Federal Trade Commission (
  4. Reporting to the sender's Email Service Provider (assuming that it is possible to identify the latter entity)

Who keeps the tab?

The sender's email service provider (ESP) is responsible for keeping the tab on reported spam.

Why spam report rates matter

ESPs are liable for the content they distribute. It is their role to verify that their customers (i.e., you) deliver only legitimate emails to willing recipients and that those emails abide by the general rules of electronic communications. ESPs who distribute significant amounts spam and unwanted emails -- that is: over the so-called "acceptable" rate -- are penalized and may find themselves on blacklists. Since the consequences of such penalties affect not only the offender's account but also the entirety of their customer base, ESPs tend to apply the rule of acceptable spam report rate (0.1%) with little leniency.




The Mailman

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