Contributor(s): Amber Smith, Susan Lyerly
Jackrabbit sends out a large number of emails for our clients each day. A question we sometimes hear is "Why are some of my customers not receiving emails?" It is important to understand the process of email before working towards a solution!
Understand the Email Process
Let’s compare the route an email takes to sending snail mail.
Step 1: Create and send email
You compose and send an email in Jackrabbit, directing the email to our server.
You put a letter in your mailbox and raise the flag, notifying your postman that your mail is ready to be picked up and sent.
Step 2: Jackrabbit servers process the email
The email is queued and sorted with financial emails (e.g., statements and receipts) being flagged as a higher priority. The email status will show in your database as “Pending”.
The emails are then sent to one of Jackrabbit’s servers. The server processes and releases the email. As soon as it is delivered, the email will show as “Complete” in your database. The email is considered successful and is no longer controlled by Jackrabbit.
You see your postman take the letter out of your mailbox and drive it to the post office. You no longer have control of it.
Step 3: The email travels via the internet
Now the emails are released to the internet, passing through several routers. A server examines the “to” address for validity and sorts it in the right direction. The “from” address is checked for good standing and to ensure it is not blacklisted.
The letter goes through several large mailrooms where each piece of mail must be sorted based on its destination. 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 receiving server must process it. Many emails are rejected because they look like spam. The domain server may also determine that the specific recipient doesn’t live there. Different domain servers have different rules and different filter strictness.
The receiving post office sorts the mail to give each postman. All junk mail is trashed first but each post office has different criteria for determining what is considered junk mail.
Step 5: The email reaches its destination
If the email is successfully processed above, it is forwarded to the recipient’s email program. It must pass through any rules or filters the recipient’s email program (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) uses and any filters the recipient applied in their personal settings. Even though the email made it to the recipient’s email program doesn’t mean the email is sitting in their Inbox. It could be in another folder, including the junk or spam folder.
The postman drives to the recipient’s house to deliver the letter, but there are “rules” for what kind of letters can be placed in the mailbox. The letters that can’t be placed into the mailbox are left elsewhere on the property, refused from the property, placed directly in the garbage can, or automatically sent back to the sender.
Improving Your Deliverability Rate
Your deliverability rate is the percentage of emails sent that are delivered to the recipient. The recipient’s ISP and personal settings are the largest determination of your deliverability rate. However, there are actions you can take to increase the likelihood of emails arriving at their destination.
- Remove non-existent and undeliverable email addresses from your database. Reference the Email Bounce report.
- Stay current with email communication best practices to avoid triggering spam filters.
- Honor email opt-outs when sending mass marketing emails. Only include opt-outs for important notices like weather closures.
- Use a recognizable “from” email address and name, accompanied by a clear and relevant subject line. The subject line could prevent email providers from sending your email.
One of the most common reasons for recipient spam complaints are failure to recognize the email's sender.
What You Should Avoid
- Bad content: email delivery expert Laura Atkins details content-based filtering in this article.
- Coding sloppy HTML: usually from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML.
- One big image: creating an HTML email containing an image with little or no text. Spam filters can’t read images and will assume you’re a spammer trying to trick them.
- “Spam” words: Free, Help, Percent Off, Reminder, Sale, Save, Offer, Now, #1, Congratulations.
Spam words should be avoided in the email subject line and the email body.
Need help finding out why a contact isn't receiving your emails? Check out our Best Practice article Suggestions for Troubleshooting When Emails Aren’t Delivered.