Email Reliability: a Growing Problem

MailboxEmail has become an essential part of business communication.

It’s free, easy to use, and quick.

Originally, email was very reliable – it either arrived in the recipient’s inbox, or the mail system bounced it back to you as undeliverable.

Unfortunately, times have changed. As spam rates rose (97% of email as of 2009), email delivery rates began falling. Emails trapped en-route by spam filters do not bounce back as undeliverable – they just disappear.

The delivery problem affects, but it not limited to:

  • person-to-person email
  • bulk email (e.g. newsletters)
  • auto-generated email (website contact and order forms, and purchase receipts)

When email does not get delivered, it can damage relationships between businesses and customers, particularly if the customer asked a question or made a purchase.  The following coping tips will help you cope with the spam traps.

Coping Tips for Outbound Email

Person-to-person email:

  • If the content of a message is very important, consider using another communication medium – phone call, voicemail, fax.
  • Do not rely on email confirmations (a.k.a. return receipts). They may also be blocked by spam blockers.
  • Consider getting another email account with a different provider, e.g. Gmail. Use it when you can’t get an email delivered using your primary account.
  • Understand that the rules for spam filtering change constantly. A message that got through one month may not the next.

Bulk email:

  • Consider using one of the newsletter service providers like MailChimp. They have spam filter checkers to analyze your content and predict whether the email may be flagged as spam. MailChimp also provides reports that show if a recipient opened the email, and whether the email bounced. MailChimp offers a free guide on How to Avoid Spam Filters – you can read it on this webpage.

Auto-generated email/web forms:

  • Test your contact form once a month to make sure it’s still working. Schedule a recurring reminder on your calendar.

Coping Tips for Inbound Email:

  • Add the names and emails of important contacts to your email address book.
  • Make a list of important emails you receive from events you schedule (like bill paying) and newsletters you wish to receive. Periodically review the list and check your inbox to make sure the messages are getting through.
  • If you suspect, or confirm that you are not receiving some emails that you want to receive, consider getting another email account with a different provider.