Email - Improve Deliverability

Jackrabbit sends out tens of thousands of emails every day for our clients.The vast majority of emails are sent and received within two minutes. Support is often asked "Why are some of my customers not receiving my mass email?"  Let's start by going over how an email travels, complete with snail-mail analogies:

Step 1: An email is composed

You, the Sender, compose a group email in Jackrabbit and submit – which sends them to our server.

Think of this stage as putting a group of letters into your mailbox and putting the flag up to let your postman know there are letters ready to be picked up and sent.

Step 2: The email is processed by our servers

The emails now get put in a queue (like waiting in line), and are sorted. Financial emails (statements, receipts, ePayments, etc.) are flagged as high priority and are placed in front of general bulk email. During this brief wait, the email status will show in your database as “Pending”.  Once the email is sorted, it is sent to one of Jackrabbit’s SMTP servers. (SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). As soon as it is delivered to one of our SMTP servers, it will then show in your database as “Complete”. At this point, the email is considered successfully sent by us and it is no longer controlled by Jackrabbit. The SMTP server then processes and releases emails as fast as it can based on its load. On a typical day, emails pass through this entire stage within a few seconds, but during heavy traffic times, it could take longer.

Think of this stage as seeing your postal worker get your letters out of your mailbox and drive them to the post office – you no longer have control of them.

Step 3: The email travels via the internet

Now the emails are released to the internet, probably passing through several routers. A DNS server (Domain Naming Service) must examine the recipients address and sort the email in the appropriate direction. They may also check to make sure the “to” address is valid and that the “from” address (your address) is in good standing and not blacklisted.

Think of this stage as the letter going through several large mailrooms where each letter must be sorted based on its destination address, and some letters might get put in the garbage if they are not labeled correctly. 

Step 4: The email searches for its destination

As an email reaches the domain address (the domain is the part after the @ in an email address; such as yahoo, gmail, or a company name, etc), the domain receiving server must process it. At this point many emails are rejected by the receiving server. It may look like spam due to certain words or characters in the subject line (see our related article on making sure your bulk emails don’t look like spam). The domain server may also determine that the specific recipient doesn’t live there (the part in front of the @ doesn’t exist at their domain). Perhaps even the domain itself is invalid. To complicate the issue, different domain servers have different rules and different filter strictness.

Think of this stage as the receiving local post office mailroom sorting the mail to give each postal driver his letters to deliver – but that all junk mail is trashed first – and each local mailroom (domain) has different criteria for determining what it considers junk mail! 

Step 5: The email reaches the destination server and program

If the email is processed successfully through the receiving domain’s server, it is then forwarded to the recipients email program and now must pass through any rules or filters that the recipient’s email program uses  (such as Outlook). If it passes that, it must then get through any filters that the recipient has as his/her settings in that program. The recipient may have several different “rules” that may be in place to control the incoming email, such as sorting to specific folders, or blocking certain senders, etc. Just because the email made it to their email program (successfully “received”) doesn’t mean it is sitting in their "inbox" - it may be in another folder or spam folder.  

Think of this stage as a postal worker driving to the Recipient’s house to put the letter into his/her mailbox, but then the mailbox has “rules” on which letters can actually be placed into it! The letters that can’t be placed into the mailbox are left elsewhere on the property, or placed directly in their garbage can, or are refused to be accepted onto the property at all, or are automatically told to be sent back to sender.

Jackrabbit Tools to Manage Your Email

Jackrabbit allows you to compose group emails via many functions in the database. In all cases, the emails you compose and send are compiled and processed by our SMTP servers. Once the email has reached our SMTP server, we no longer have control of it. (see article above, Step 2).

Jackrabbit provides you with the status of each sent email. From the Family record Misc tab, select the View Sent Emails button and a list of all emails sent within the past 180 days are shown along with their status. A status of Complete means it reached our STMP server successfully and is no longer controlled by Jackrabbit. It does not mean that the email was received. It just means Jackrabbit's job of SENDING the email was completed.

Parents can log into their Parent Portal and view all emails that you have sent them. From the My Account tab, the View Emails button includes the past 180 days of sent emails; they can even view the content of each email! The most recent emails are also available on the News tab in the Recent Communications section.

The Email Bounce Report provides a list of bounced/bad email addresses so that you are aware of email addresses that were returned to our server with an error.  You should review this list frequently and fix or remove bad email addresses from your database. The bounce report is found under Reports > Email Bounce Report (you must have the User Permission turned on to access this report).

For details on using the Email Log and the Email Bounce Report, see the Help section Email Reports.

Improving Your Deliverability Rate

Your deliverability rate is the percentage of emails sent that are delivered to the recipient’s inbox. Although the recipient’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) and personal settings are the largest determination of your deliverability rate, there are actions you can take on your side to increase the likelihood that the emails will get to their destination. Here are several measures you can take to improve your deliverability rate:

  • Routinely monitor and remove non-existent and persistently undeliverable bounce addresses  (see Email Bounce Report above).
  • Monitor your communication's reply email address inbox and honor unsubscribe requests that you may receive there. 
  • Use an instantly recognizable from email address and from name, accompanied by a clear and relevant subject line. Two of the most common reasons for recipient spam complaints are failure to recognize the email's sender and failure of the email content to match the expectations the subscribers had for the subject matter and frequency when they opted in to the list. 
  • Stay current with email communication best practices. Doing so helps ensure your email is recognizable, pleasing, and unlikely to trigger an ISP's spam filters.

The subject line is huge. What you put in your subject line could prevent email providers from even sending your email. 

AVOID using the following:

  • Using bad content. This one’s broad, but important. Email delivery expert Laura Atkins details content-based filtering in this article.
  • Coding sloppy HTML, usually from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML.
  • Creating an HTML email that is nothing but one big image, with little or no text. Spam filters can’t read images, so they assume you’re a spammer trying to trick them.
  • Avoid using these words which are considered “spam” words (especially in the Subject line):  Free, Help, Percent Off, Reminder, Sale, Save, Offer, Now, #1, Congratulations

Sending a mass email uses Jackrabbit's ISP (Internet Service Provider) which can be seen as spam by the recipients' ISP and could be blocked from delivery. You and your customers can add the following Domains and ISP's to your/their server's whitelist: 

  • Our domain is and our email servers IPs are: through, and,,,  (This is what your parents/customers need to whitelist in order to ensure they receive emails you send from your Jackrabbit database.)    
  • Team Support (Jackrabbit's ticketing system) domain is and their email server IP is:  (This is what you need to whitelist to receive Support Ticket responses from us.) 

Curious "how" to whitelist or want to tell your customers how to whitelist? Here is a great reference page:  How to Whitelist Email.

Reasons a Sent Email May Not be Received

Unfortunately there are multiple reasons why an email isn't received, and 99% of them cannot be researched by Jackrabbit. Some reasons are:

  • The email was sorted to the recipient's Spam folder (so they don't know they received it).
  • The email was automatically deleted by the recipient's own Spam rules.
  • The recipient's Inbox is full and won’t accept any more emails until some are deleted.
  • The recipient no longer has that email address.
  • The recipient's ISP (Internet Service Provider) refused to deliver the email because the ISP thinks it is spam.
  • The email address is mistyped in Jackrabbit (you can check this in your database).

To verify the status of an email, go the Family Misc tab and click the View Sent Emails button. A popup will appear with the details of any email to that family. A Status of Complete is an indication your email reached our SMTP server successfully, which is as far as Jackrabbit can control it.  Use the Email Bounce Report to find bad email addresses.