Over the past few weeks I have been inundated with questions regarding the non-delivery of e-mail messages and I would like to make a few suggestions.
First, a primer on spam. Three-hundred thousand spam messages a month are tracked going through my client filtering systems. That is three-hundred thousand e-mail messages not in various in-boxes. A piece of highly tuned software is making decisions as to the validity of the sender, the body of the message and the various attempts and sending viruses/spyware and phishing attempts.
It’s not perfect, and occasionally, valid e-mail is sent to the land of never-read messages.
There are ways to make this easier.
One, common domain names, that is, domains that you work with on an ongoing basis, can, and should, be added to what is called a whitelist. This is a list of domains that you never want to be checked against spam filters. If you are working with John Smith at Acme (email@example.com) – I can add the domain acme.com to the pre-filter white-list and never, ever, will John Smith be blocked by the mail filtering system.
There is more than just on filtering system in place. Filtering can occur at pre-filtering sites such as Securence and Postini, filtering on Exchange, filtering in Outlook (yes, it is different than Exchange), filtering in the firewall and some antivirus packages include mail-filtering as well.
All of these need to be told whom you do not want to be considered spam.
Two, tell your customers, contacts, friends and family to white-list you. Yes, the people on the other end have filtering systems in place similar to what you are behind.
People that you communicate with on an on-going basis need to follow the same procedure you have. Ideally, your domain should be added to their white-list, at a minimum, your e-mail address should be white-listed. But it’s not just white-listing in one system. All parts of the spam filtering chain need to be told who you are. Skipping one link in the chain can send you to e-mail jail.
Third, check spam quarantine. This not only applies to you but to your clients/customers. Everyone needs to spend one-minute per day checking spam quarantine for messages sent to spam by accident. Messages routed as spam should immediately be flagged as non-spam by whatever flagged it to begin with. Should you not have access to the filtering system such as firewall or Exchange SCL blocking, your administrator should be contacted to either white-list the email address or domain.
Finally, make sure when you initially begin the conversation, ask to be added to the contact list of the person you are e-mailing and ask that the domain be white-listed on your and their end. Adding a simple statement in your e-mail footer as:
“Adding my email address, firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe senders list will help reduce the chance you will not receive my email message in the future” - can help reduce the chances you get routed to spam.
While not perfect, spam filtering is getting better, following these steps can help reduce your e-mail headaches.