There are handful of reasons why email messages might not end up in their desired location of your recipient's inbox. The good news is that there's a bunch of things you can do about it. This article addresses some settings you'll want to check, some concepts you'll want to adhere to when crafting messages and so good old fashioned do's and dont's to help improve the deliverability of your email.
How CollegePlannerPro sends email on your behalf.
Email messages sent to your recipients will be "From" a CollegePlannerPro dot com email address. It used to be that we simply used your email address that you have associated with your CollegePlannerPro account to say that the email was "from" you. This isn't copacetic any longer with most major email providers as it's the same method that SPAM is sent. In other words, it's not cool to send an email and say it's physically from someone else. So, to work around the technicality, CollegePlannerPro as a system sends email with our email address as the "from" address, however we use your email address as the "reply-to" address. The reply-to is often the email address an email program will use to send a message back to when the "Reply" button is clicked.
One exception to this is Broadcast emails. They are sent with your email address as the, "From" address because it is currently not possible to use a reply-to email address within the framework. This attempts to provide your clients with the ability to hit reply and have their response go to your email inbox instead of them getting a bounce back message from a "do not reply" auto response. Now, because your email address is being used as the "from" address, it is imperative that you do not use (if possible) a free email provider as the email address for your CollegePlannerPro account. By doing so the chances of poor email delivery for Broadcast emails goes way, way up. See the next section for more information about this.
Using Gmail or other free services as your email address within CPP is a BAD IDEA!
The same goes for Yahoo!, Hotmail, Comcast, Verizon, Earthlink, AOL, RocketMail, SBCGlobal, Ameritech, Mac, Cox, Ymail, RoadRunner,
and the list goes on and on...
Basically any free or internet service provider email service should be avoided as the email address you use for your CollegePlannerPro account. Email messages sent with "From" addresses for these types of providers are MUCH more likely to be filtered out as SPAM. Ideally, you'd use an email address based on your own domain name instead. For example, "firstname.lastname@example.org".
To get your own email address based on your own domain name, you'll need to register your own domain if you do not already have one. They're only a few dollars a year and certainly a worth while investment. Plus you can use the domain as your website too! Talk to your local web guru about how to set it up. They'll be glad to assist. And, of course, your emails will be much more likely to land in the inboxes of your clients which is what we want!
How SPAM filters think.
When you send an email to a recipient, your message has to get past:
- their email provider's spam filters, then
- their email application/program's spam filters.
It's a lot easier than you think for an innocent, legitimate email to be mistaken as spam (this is called a "false-positive"). So it helps to understand how spam filters work, and what they look for. Spam filters analyze the following... (we'll elaborate the chart further down the page.) Some of this stuff gets a little technical so don't feel like you should understand everything that's mentioned. We've included so all techie skill levels have their questions answered.
|What Spam Filters Check:||What They're Thinking:|
|Your Subject Line||"Did the sender use "spammy" words and phrases?"|
|Who the message is addressed "To:"||"Did the sender even know the recipient's name, or is it just addressed to an email (which they could have easily guessed, or programmed a script to generate)?"|
|The content of your message||"Is HTML email coded properly? Did the sender take the time to create a plain-text alternative? Does the content contain spammy words or phrases?"|
|Your IP address||"Was the email sent from a server that is on a blackhole-list, or is known to be spam-friendly?"|
|The sender||"Friend, or foe? Is the sender in my address book or contacts list?"|
|Your "from" email address||"Is the email address faked? Is it from a free email account, or does it sound too anonymous?"|
|Your domain name||"Is the sender using a valid domain name that he owns, or is it an anonymous looking, or faked?"|
|Advice from other spam filters||"Has this same message (or sender) already been reported as spam by other recipients, or other spam filters out there?"|
Avoid these common mistakes.
These are the most common mistakes we see made, which result in accidental spam filtering.
- Using spammy phrases, like "Click here!" or "Once in a lifetime opportunity!"
- Going crazy with exclamation points!!!!!!
- USING ALL CAPS, WHICH IS LIKE YELLING IN EMAIL (especially in the subject)
- Coloring their fonts bright red, or green
- Coding sloppy HTML (usually from converting a Microsoft Word file to HTML)
- Creating an HTML email that's nothing but one big image, with little or no text (since spam filters can't read images, they assume you're a spammer that's trying to trick 'em).
- Using the word "Test" in the subject line (strange, but true)
- Designing HTML email in Microsoft Word, and exporting the code to HTML (that code is sloppy, and spam filters hate it)