Author: Chris Pearson, Partner & Email Marketing Specialist at 3BM

You may have heard this from a subscriber or two, but… 

It’s nothing to worry about.

And while a “I hate you” reply to one of your emails can sting a bit…

It’s not the end of the world. 

The truth?

We all get replies like this from one subscriber or another. 

The important thing is how to handle it.

Here’s what I believe puts brands at risk of ruining their reputation and revenue potential: 

They kowtow to one or even 100 subscribers saying that they “hate” the emails you’re sending. 

While this can emotionally weigh on you as the sender, it’s actually a positive sign that you’re getting negative responses. 

Here’s how: 

Replies, positive or negative, improve sender reputation. 

Email service providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, iCloud, and others do not read the contents of your emails (at least we hope they don’t 😉). 

This means that the “reply” is simply a signal that your list is engaging with your sent email. 

This engagement (alongside opens, clicks, and forwards) all play into your sender reputation score. 


The more your list engages with your emails… The more likely you’ll inbox the emails you send. 

And the more often you inbox emails… the more often you’ll be able to make sales to your list. 

So, those “haters” are indirectly helping you get your products in front of more people on your list. 

“Haters are sometimes people who can’t understand why everybody loves you.“– Ziad


Here’s how to tell if you need to pay attention to those haters. 

Unsubscribe Rate & Spam Complaints

Every list has churn, it’s normal. But, if you have a unsub rate over 1% consistently (on average per 30 days), then this is something to address. 

There are seasons when your unsub rate will be higher than 1% due to a given re engagement strategy or other reason, but… 

It shouldn’t stay above 1% on average all the time. 

How do you address a high unsubscribe rate?

The two big levers you can pull to address a high “bail rate” are as follows: 

  1. Segment your list 
  2. Send better emails

And if after doing this 20% to make an 80% change doesn’t work, then… 

You may have a “bad list.” 

Your Spam Complaints are more sensitive. 

Monitor the rate of spam complaints for every campaign. A complaint rate of 0.1% (1 complaint per 1,000 emails sent) is generally seen as a threshold. Rates above this should be a cause for concern.

Taking Spam Complaints Seriously

If your spam complaint rate goes above the 0.1% threshold, it’s time to take immediate action. Ignoring this can result in your emails being flagged as spam, which will severely impact your sender reputation and deliverability.

Here’s what you can do:

Review Your Content: Sometimes, the content can be the culprit. Make sure you’re not using spammy words or misleading subject lines.

Re-evaluate Your List: If you’ve purchased an email list or haven’t cleaned your list in a while, now is the time to do it. Remove inactive subscribers and those who haven’t engaged with your emails in a long time.

Be Transparent: Always make it easy for people to unsubscribe. The harder you make it, the more likely they are to mark your email as spam.

Seek Feedback: Sometimes it’s good to directly ask your audience what they want. Use surveys or quick polls to understand what your subscribers are interested in.

Consult with ESP: Your Email Service Provider can provide insights into why your emails might be marked as spam and how to improve your sender reputation.

The Power of A/B Testing

One of the most effective ways to understand what resonates with your audience is A/B testing. 

Test different subject lines, leads, offers, and call-to-actions to see what yields the best results.

And by results we want to look at metrics in this order:

  • Revenue
  • Earnings Per Subscriber
  • Clicks
  • Opens 

I like to focus on making sales first and then backing into “engagement metrics” to make sure as many people are seeing the emails as possible. 

The Bottom Line

Negative responses are a part of the email marketing landscape. 

They can be disheartening, but they also offer an opportunity for growth and improvement. 

The key is to not let the negativity derail your strategy but to use it as a tool for refinement.

Remember, every piece of feedback is a chance to improve. 

So, instead of dreading those “I hate you” emails, see them as an opportunity to better your email marketing strategy and, ultimately, improve your sender reputation, which grows your business. 

In the world of email marketing, negative feedback is inevitable but not insurmountable. 

While it can be disheartening to receive emails from subscribers who want to unsubscribe, it’s crucial to see these as opportunities for growth rather than setbacks. 

Remember, engagement—whether positive or negative—boosts your sender reputation, which in turn improves your email deliverability and ultimately your sales.

From monitoring unsubscribe rates and spam complaints to leveraging the power of A/B testing, there are various strategies to improve your email marketing game. 

The key is to focus on what truly matters: 

Driving revenue and improving your sender reputation!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the complexities of email marketing or simply want to take your strategy to the next level, we’re here to help. Click below to get a FREE Email Marketing Audit and discover actionable insights to supercharge your email campaigns.

👉 Get Your Free Email Marketing Audit Now! 👈

Don’t let the haters derail your success. 

Turn their feedback into your stepping stone to greatness.

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