General Compliance Tips

This page explains which issues can cause different types of warnings in your account. To use this guide, locate the type of complaint you're concerned with below. These include abuse complaints, high unsubscribe rates, or high bounce rates. Click a link from the list of possible causes to jump to more information about that issue and how to fix it.

Items Associated with High Abuse Complaints

  1. Permission
  2. Stale Lists
  3. Improperly Collected Lists
  4. Offline Lists
  5. Purchased Lists
  6. Content is Not Relevant
  7. Third-Party Marketing
  8. No Unsubscribe Link
  9. Outside Unsubscribe Process

Items Associated with High Unsubscribe Rates

  1. Permission
  2. Stale Lists
  3. Improperly Collected Lists
  4. Offline Lists
  5. Purchased Lists
  6. Content is Not Relevant
  7. Third-Party Marketing

Items Associated with High Bounce Rates

  1. Stale Lists
  2. Improperly Collected Lists
  3. Offline Lists
  4. Purchased Lists
  5. Improper Import


Before you can engage someone through email marketing, they need to opt-in to your list, preferably through double opt-in. Double opt-in is the process in which an individual signs up on an online form, and then receives an email that requires they click a link to approve the subscription.

Any other type of confirmation generally results in issues. Offline list collection, single opt-in, verbal, or other processes show no proof that the individual wants to receive emails.

Make sure your list is OK to use before you import subscribers into your MailChimp list. We understand that some circumstances do not allow for online sign up, but there are ways to properly collect offline lists.

There is one other aspect to permission that is important. Make sure it is very clear on your signup form that the individual will receive emails, and explain what content they can expect to receive and how often. Be as clear as possible when you set the subscribers' expectations. When you do not set the subscribers' expectations on the signup form, it can lead to high unsubscribes or abuse complaints.

Stale Lists

When someone opts in to your list, you have around three months before their permission goes cold and about six months before the email address is bad. If you wait too long before you email your subscribers, you can get bounces from inactive email addresses and spam complaints.

If a recipient reports your email as spam, it sends an email to their internet service provider. This is referred to as a feedback loop If the internet service provider receives enough spam reports, your emails will be blocked.

If you’ve been collecting emails for several months or more and are only just getting around to emailing your subscribers, you need to re-invite them to your list. Send a quick email that asks people if they still want to be on your list, and include a link for them to reconfirm that they want to be on your list.

Improperly Collected Lists

MailChimp is strictly a permission-based email delivery service. Sometimes, lists are collected from different sources or even third parties.

When we see lists collected in this manner, we may ask you to do the following:

  • Delete the list if all subscribers did not give permission.
  • Clean the list by deleting the inactive subscribers and removing those who you do not have permission to send to.
  • Reconfirm the remaining cleaned list.

Offline Lists

We do not allow lists that do not have proper opt-in confirmation. If you gathered your list at a show or in an offline capacity, you must have documented proof of the signup. Also, keep in mind, it is common for people to provide invalid email addresses with offline processes, which can cause high bounce rates. If you have proof of signup, it will help to protect you if someone makes a spam complaint.

Purchased Lists

MailChimp does not allow lists that have been purchased or collected from someone who has a purchased list. These lists often provide bad addresses that cause high bounce rates. They can also contain spam trap addresses, which result in being blacklisted.

If you have purchased a list, we will ask you to delete the entire list or remove the purchased portion of the list.

Content is Not Relevant

Relevancy is an important aspect of email marketing. If your content doesn't hold your subscribers' interest, they may mark the email as spam.

Use groups or segments to get relevant content to the right people.

Third-Party Marketing

Third-party marketing is when you decide to market another product or service to your subscribers, or when you switch company names. Any time you send as Company A either on behalf of or as Company B, it causes confusion because subscribers did not sign up to receive information from Company B. To introduce a new product, service, or company name, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Create a new list and send an introduction email, allowing subscribers to sign up to receive information on the other product or service.
  • If you are switching your company name, rebranding, or just acquired a new business, you have to reintroduce yourself. In your email, explain the change and allow users to unsubscribe if they no longer wish to receive the content.
  • Make it clear in your subscription process that subscribers may receive news about other services or products. While this may not stop a subscriber from marking your email as spam, being clear gives you protection.

Terms of Use Violation

If content or accounts violate our Terms of Use, we will suspend the account for investigation.

Improper Import

If you upload a bad list, the wrong list, or if you incorrectly upload the list, we will ask you to delete the list and upload it again to correct the issue.

Outside Unsubscribe Process

Internet service providers require that the unsubscribe process do three things: process unsubscribes, bounce records, and feedback loops. Because we have to make sure this happens for all emails sent through our servers, we do not allow you to supply your own unsubscribe link. If we find that you used an outside unsubscribe link, we will shut down the account and ask that you agree to include the MailChimp unsubscribe link in all future campaigns.

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