System administrators often complain that anti-spam filters mark their email messages as spam. In our work, we receive many signals that emails sent to attendees never reach them. The reality is a little different, though. The messages do get there, but they are automatically directed to the spam folder. If that is the case, it would be of little advantage to re-send such emails. At this point, you must ask yourself a question: what can I do about it?
It is worth checking the results for our email as early as at the phase of system implementation. To do this, I recommend using mail-tester.com. It will evaluate your email messages from 1 to 10. Unfortunately, receiving the maximum score of 10 points is no guarantee that all messages will actually get to the recipient. Anti-spam filters can be configured in any way you can imagine, in every mailbox. Unfortunately, that is something we cannot do much about.
In order to test an email message, we send it to the address generated by the website. A few moments later, the website displays the result:
The result corresponding to a standard email message that confirms registration in our event management software is 7.9/10 – it is the safe minimum. When creating a new message, pay attention to a number of particularly important aspects:
- Avoid using short subject lines and headers in your messages, you may accidentally use a phrase that will be categorized as spam if it is not accompanied by additional content.
- Do not attach too many images. Bear in mind that filters calculate the ratio of text to HTML code and images. The more text in the message, the better.
- Remember about alt attributes! Each image in an email should have an alt attribute, i.e. a description that appears before the image is loaded. Many mailboxes do not load images by default, for safety reasons.
- All links and images must be available. Make sure that the website your link redirects to is actually available. That also includes typing errors in links.
- Pay attention to domain settings. Make sure that your application has a right to send messages from that domain. It is often the case that we only have a delegated sub-domain, e.g. registration.domain.com, while we want messages to be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org (that is a completely different domain than registration.domain.com!), that is re-directed to a different IP address. Having no rights may cost us a few negative points.
- Blacklists. If we choose cheaper hosting services, it is a frequent case that we share the same IP address with other users. Imagine a situation where somebody starts sending spam from the same IP address and their domain is blacklisted. At first, we may think that it will not affect us, since we send our email messages from a different domain, e.g. email@example.com. However, the reality is different. The domain of a spammer points at a specific IP address that is also our IP address, which means that our email will also be treated as potential spam.
It will surely take a lot of patience and diligence to test and evaluate email messages. Before sending each new batch of email, we need to take all the steps all over again. However, it will pay back during the very process of attendee registration. The problems with sending invitations, confirmations of registration, VAT invoices, and (potentially) conference passes from event management software will be reduced to a minimum. These problems will come back to haunt us if we ignore this important step of software configuration.