You May Not Be Getting All Your E-mail!

February 11th, 2009

In the process of helping many of my e-book subscribers figure out why the didn’t get the download link e-mail for their latest PFRE e-book update I’ve discovered that there may be a fair number of blog readers out there that don’t get all the e-mail that is sent to them. I encountered another similar case where someone asked me a question and my e-mailed answer was rejected by their SPAM filter. These e-mails could be potential clients that are trying to schedule a shoot! I think it would be useful to give some tips on how to control your SPAM filters. First some background.

Because mail server hosting companies struggle with the huge traffic volume of SPAM e-mail they have to handle, they have various high speed filtering mechanisms that can filter SPAM before it even gets to your in-box. What this means to you is there are two places you  control SPAM:

  1. At your e-mail server: For example my e-mail goes through a mail server  at the company that hosts my domain. This mail server has 3 setting’s: 1- “Don’t filter anything… send me every message you get”, 2-Filter out everything that “sort of looks like SPAM” and 3-Filter out everything that even looks like SPAM. Back a few years ago when my hosting service implemented SPAM on their mail servers without even telling anyone they defaulted the filtering level at “2”.
  2. At your e-mail reader: I use a gmail account as my e-mail reader because it has such great SPAM filtering control and IMAP support but you could use MS Outlook or Yahoo mail or Hotmail the same way. An e-mail reader connects to the e-mail server for your domain and downloads all the incoming e-mail the server has.

If you don’t own your own domain both of these functions (1, and 2 above) may be in the same place. For example if you use Comcast mail and use the Comcast web e-mail reader, everything is at Comcast.

Here are my recommendations for how to make sure you are getting all your e-mail:

  1. You must be able to visually verify the results of all SPAM filtering. SPAM filtering algorithms  are extremely complicated. Just because one e-mail from a give person makes it through the filter doesn’t mean another one will. There’s no such think as a perfect SPAM filter.
  2. Don’t allow any unverifiable SPAM filtering to go on. This makes sure your e-mail reader is getting everything that’s being sent to you e-mail address. Depending on which e-mail service you use this may require some research of the settings.
  3. Use your e-mail reader to do all SPAM filtering. This is just another way of stating 1. and 2. By doing all filtering in your e-mail reader you can visually scan the SPAM folder to verify filtering is going on as you expect.

I know, this is pretty involved stuff for some that aren’t into the fine points of all this Internet stuff. For those that just want some simple recommendations on what works here is the condensed version:

  • Get a free Gmail account. Gmail is a great implementation of web accessable e-mail that has all the essential features you need:
    • It will  connect to a mail server in your own domain so it appears to clients that mail is coming from your own domain.
    • It has outstanding SPAM filtering that is effectively flawless. Yet you can easily review the filtering results.
    • It has IMAP access so you can easily access your filtered Inbox anyplace you choose. For example, see everything on your iPhone or other smart phone that you see on your laptop etc.
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3 Responses to “You May Not Be Getting All Your E-mail!”

  • This is an excellent post Larry. I currently battle with this, but on the receiving end of my messages. It seems some RE offices are implementing fairly rigid filters with office addresses. I have one client I fight to get an email to often. Any message with HTML code or links, including in my signature, are rejected but a simple text email will. I end up having to snail-mail a printed invoice with the links for the tour to the agent because they can’t receive emails with them in it.

  • Chris- You raise a great point, most broker run e-mail servers have SPAM filters turned up, along with many other problems. For this reason I recommend to my Realtor friends that they not use broker systems.

  • I can confirm that gmail is a great way to deal with this problem. And their spam filtering is so good I’ve only had 2 or 3 errors in many years and tens of thousands of messages. I’ve set up my domains to point to their mail-servers and it is seamless. Further, they continually innovate the service in useful ways.

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