When your website gets all set up, and it looks gorgeous, and you want to go into production, you’re finding that a lot the emails you are sending to your clients are ending up in their spam filters.  Why is this happening?  You are not sending spam, and in many cases, they might even be emails that they asked for.  You may not be done setting things up.

There are a few methods that major email service providers use to try to filter out spam from their users.  One of these methods, and the major one, is user reports.  If a majority of the recipients of emails from specific domains gets flagged as spam, then there will be a higher chance of the future emails being flagged as spam, and they may never be seen.  This is the last resort for email providers, if all other methods of authentication pass, it can still fail based on user reports.

The next largest method is based on the content of the message.  Many versions of spam are offering large sums of money, reduced prices on prescription medications, and sexy singles in your area.  These emails are so abundant that spam filters base their decision on likeness of content to previous emails flagged.  This is important to remember if you are planning on selling items on your website, or send out solicitations for various products.  Sometimes, spammers will try to change spellings or add spaces between each letter, but these are “old-school” methods, and most don’t fool major spam filters anymore.

Google has a few guidelines on bulk emails.  JadeServe will take care of many of them for you by default, and can help you if you use a different provider.  Firstly, they require an easy way for users to opt-out of your emails, such as a link at the bottom of the emails.  JadeServe includes this link from many @jadeserve.com emails, such as from billing and technical support.  Internally, this just means that if the user is opted out of emails, they will receive paper invoices and other manual mailings for their account.  Yes, it’s slightly more work, but it’s better than the users not being able to hear from you because of a spam filter.

Another thing that Google emphasis is proper formatting of HTML emails.  This is generally done automatically, but if you are sending emails directly from your site, then you need to be assured that your emails are properly formatted, with compliant HTML.

The next thing that email providers look at is bounce-rate of emails.  This is fixed by removing any email addresses from your lists that are bounced back as undeliverable.  Sometimes, this can take a few days, depending on the destination provider.  If this happens, you will need to contact the customer and get an updated email address from them.  It’s a relatively easy issue to resolve.

Possibly the biggest method of getting through spam filters is domain authentication.  This is done by adding DKIM or SPF records to the DNS settings of your domain.  There will be future posts on setting these up, but what they are are basically a white list on your domain of approved senders.  If someone tried to send an email from billing@jadeserve.com from some server in Russia, it would fail authentication, and it would be sent to spam.  This makes sure that only authorized users on authorized servers can send emails.  This is the strongest way to stop spammers from hijacking your email addresses and sending emails as you.

Hopefully this answers a few questions on why you may be having your emails sent to the spam folder.

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