What is the Yahoo Complaint Feedback Loop (FBL or CFL) and how do I sign up for it?


Yahoo (as far as Yahoo Mail is concerned) was once called Yahoo, then it absorbed AOL and became Oath, then Verizon Media, and now it is just called Yahoo again. Throughout this time there has been some form of ISP feedback loop -- you know, that thing that sends complaint reports back to the sender or sender's ESP platform when a Yahoo user clicks the "report spam" button. But the URL and process to sign up for the Yahoo CFL or FBL has changed over the years, and it's easy to stumble across outdated guidance when Googling. So, here's my try at providing updated guidance.

A note on terminology: Yahoo calls this spam reporting process a CFL (Complaint Feedback Loop). I and most others call it an ISP (Internet Service Provider) FBL (Feedback Loop). I consider the terms CFL and FBL to be interchangeable in this context.

What is it? The Yahoo Complaint Feedback Loop (CFL) is a mechanism where you register your sending domains with Yahoo, and if Yahoo Mail users report (mark) your mail as spam in the Yahoo Mail interface, you or your sending mail platform will receive a report back.

Should you sign up for it? Almost anybody sending email messages in bulk, or running a platform that sends email messages in bulk, should sign up for this. The only exception would be that you should not sign up for this if your email sending platform does this for you already. Some do, either always or only in certain circumstances (here's an example). Check with your email service provider to clarify.

How does this help senders? It enables senders to improve their deliverability success by being able to monitor and measure spam complaints. Excessive spam complaints are a sign of data hygiene issues and have the potential to label you a bad sender and get you blocked, unable to deliver mail to Yahoo or elsewhere. The feedback loop gives you insight into data Yahoo is already using to determine your sending reputation.

Note a single complaint (or very low number of complaints) is almost never a cause for concern. Anybody can complain about anything (so true in our world; this is not just specific to ISP feedback loops). If you get ONE complaint, it's fair to just unsubscribe the complainer and get one with your life. However, if your brand new newsletter is getting a 5% complaint rate, something's wrong and that data needs to be examined, reviewed, questioned. Sending to non opt-in data drives higher complaint rates than opt-in data. ISPs know this and use this as a metric to decide which senders to block.

Where do I go to sign up for the Yahoo CFL? Go to the new Yahoo Senders Hub website at  https://senders.yahooinc.com/ and click on the "Contact" button, then click on the "Complaint Feedback Loop: Set up and Manage" button. Click through and "open the form" that you'll need to complete and submit.

Most of the fields that you'll need to fill out on this form are pretty straight forward, but here's clarifying points on a few of them:

  • Domain refers to the domain that you'll be sending from, and you must be signing (authenticating) that mail with DKIM or else Yahoo will not be able to send you complaint data back. (Some ESPs and CRM platforms may sign a "second DKIM signature" with a separate domain and that may be enough to cover multiple clients of that sending platform as far as Yahoo CFL registration goes. That's outside of the scope of this guide.)
  • Selector refers to DKIM selector, which is a setting - usually a short string like "x" or "200601" or "mail" and it's defined by your email sending platform. Your email provider can provide this information if needed -- but really, most people are just going to be an asterisk (*) in this field, to match DKIM-signed mail using ANY selector for that domain. Unless you've got a complex setup and know what you're doing, entering an asterisk is the way to go. (DKIM savvy folks -- think about future updates to your DKIM selector and key -- you don't want it to break your Yahoo CFL reporting. Using an asterisk as a wildcard means the reports will continue to flow even after you rotate out that DKIM key and increment your selector.)
  • The other possibly non-obvious field here is the "Reporting Email" address. This tells Yahoo where to send any spam reports. This should be an email address that is equipped to process many email reports. Each spam report generates one email message. If you send millions of messages, you'll need to be able to handle thousands of report emails. Most email platforms have a special email address set up for this purpose, that knows how to handle and log these complaints in an automation fashion. DO NOT put a person's email address here, unless you (A) know what you're doing and (B) are a really, really tiny sender. For Spam Resource, I can list myself because I get one complaint every four months or so, which I can easily process manually. For a large B2C retailer, that doesn't scale.

After you fill out the form, solve the reCAPTCHA, and submit, Yahoo is going to send a confirmation email (from yahoo-account-services-us@cc.yahoo-inc.com) to the address "postmaster" at the domain name you've submitted. Meaning if your domain is "example.com" and that's what you put in the domain field, Yahoo is going to send a confirmation email to postmaster@example.com. You'll need to receive this email. It contains a verification code that you'll need to copy and paste back into this form to be able to finalize your submission.

And don't forget to bookmark that https://senders.yahooinc.com/ website. It's chock full of other information that email senders are sure to find useful. This new Senders Hub is a one-stop-shop for everything you need to understand how to successfully send email to your Yahoo subscribers.

I hope this information helps you on your quest to be a better marketing sender! Good luck and happy FBLing.

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