Abuse Reports: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

When someone emails abuse@marketo.com to tell Marketo that they received unsolicited email from one of our customers, the result is called an abuse report. 

Instead of just hitting the “Report Spam” button, someone actually took the time to write to our abuse@marketo.com address and explain to us that they never wanted email from the sender.  Because of this direct complaint we take these types of spam reports very seriously. Only about 10% of our customers ever receive any abuse reports at all so it is cause for investigation if you receive one.

If you receive notification that someone filed an abuse report against your account review your list management practices.

Below are some things to consider:

  • When people sign up to receive emails from you, is it made clear to them that they are giving you permission to email them?
  • Have you recently added any new leads or lead sources?
  • Have you recently added older leads to your database that you have not reached out to in the past 6 months or more?
  • Was there anything about the campaign that was complained about that makes it different from previous campaigns?


In most cases people file these kinds of reports because:

  • They never requested to be on your email list.
  • They did request to be on your email list at some point but have forgotten because they have not heard from you in so long.


The importance of using explicit opt-in in your list building efforts cannot be stressed enough. You should also send to active leads consistently enough that they continue to expect emails from you.

The best ways to avoid complaint driven reputation issues is to send to opted-in, engaged recipients. To help with this, a lot of senders clear out their inactive leads every 6 months or so. An inactive lead is a contact that has taken no action in the given time period— they haven't opened an email, clicked a link, visited your webpage, attended a Webinar, and so forth. Inactive leads are a dangerous group to continue mailing to because their behavior proves that they do not want to interact with your mail and will likely complain to Marketo or to their ISPs about it.

We have a great resource on how to create a Smart List to remove inactive leads here. If you still need some help, please feel free to reach out to our Support team (support@marketo.com).

Additional resources:

Abuse Report Deep Dive

Blacklist Deep Dive



Labels (2)