I work with many small businesses with varying levels of technical capability at their disposal. Businesses with few employees often have no IT support. The problem is that today’s business environment virtually requires the use of email.
On the surface email is simple. You sign-up for a Gmail, Yahoo or AOL account. You send and receive. No big whoop. Every once in a while, however, you may not receive someone’s email, or they may not receive your’s. Maybe there is a certain person you cannot correspond with, because the emails never make it to the other’s inbox.
The problem is, this kind of inconsistency in a business situation can make you look unreliable, or even incompetent. You may even be missing golden business opportunities because you are not receiving all the inquiries that area being sent to you. In order to avoid these problems, you need to understand a little more about how email works.
The primary reason that email messages don’t make it to their intended recipients is spam filtering. Spam is a huge problem and expense for internet companies to deal with. There are two ways that companies that manage email servers attempt to reduce the number of spam messages that make it to your inbox:
- By rejecting the message at the server level
- By use of spam filtering software
Both of these methods can also filter out messages that you really want to receive. There isn’t much you can do about spam filtering at the server level. You should, however, have control of the spam filtering software, and be using the following practices to manage it:
- Set the spam filter to save all suspected spam to the spam folder. NEVER set it to automatically delete suspected spam.
- Review the messages in your spam folder on a regular basis, and then delete.
- Add all known contacts to your “white list” or “safe senders” list. This will keep the spam filter from blocking or diverting any messages from these senders. Some email clients will automatically white list all addresses in an associated contacts address book. You may need to specifically add addresses to your white list. To properly implement this practice, you will need to find out how your email client handles white listing.
In addition to receiving mail, here are some best practices for sending:
- Avoid using free email addresses for business correspondence. To more tech savvy business people, this looks unprofessional.
If you have your own website and domain name:
- Make sure that you have a dedicated IP address for your website. Otherwise your messages may be flagged as being from an unreliable source, and either be rejected by the recipient’s mail server, or end up in their spam folder (which they probably never check)
- Consider using a third party email service to manage your email. This can be a little more expensive, but is much more reliable than using free or cheap solutions.