• High availability of the email server. Nobody can afford to not be able to send or receive because the email service is down.
• Ability to receive ALL email (even if it’s spam). Email addresses that use too much spam filtering will lose legitimate emails. It’s better to filter for spam in your email program than to have your email provider filter for you.
• Ability to be able to send whatever email you choose to send. Some email providers filter outbound email and won’t tell you why they deem the email inappropriate.
On top of these vital criteria come other important factors, like the recognition of your email as being connected to your business, ability to send legitimate marketing emails (mass email), etc.
As a small business, we have dealt with all of the issues stated above. Of course, nobody wants spam in his in-box, but the definition of what spam is varies greatly according to whom you ask. As an example, we send an email test to accounts on Yahoo.com, MSN.com, Gmail.com, etc. There was a great variation in where the email ended up. This email contained the word “Test” in the subject line and the words “this is a test” in the body followed by a signature with the company’s address, phone number, etc. Here is what happened with that email:
Yahoo.com in-box, but delayed two hours
MSN.com spam box
RR.com never arrived and no bounce message
Verizon.net spam box, but delayed two hours
This is a rather widespread result and might be different for your email address. We then had to look deeper into it, especially into sending to RR.com email users. So we tested by reducing what’s in that test email. After we removed our phone number, the email to RR.com did go through and was delivered to the spam box.
Now we were wondering why that was?
After a little thinking we came to this conclusion:
We are sending out marketing emails to our mailing list, and to comply with the ICANN spam law we have our phone number in our marketing emails. So RR seems to identify spam by counting emails sent containing a certain phone number. Remember, these are our individual results and we are not claiming anything. However, since then we had two clients who ran into the same snag—with different providers, but same effect.
Which leads to this advice:
• Get your own domain name like yourcompany.com or whatyoudo.com. Use this email solely for 1-to-1 communication with your clients, leads or customers.
• Get another domain like yourcompanymarketing.com or whatyoudomarketing.com and set it up on a different hosting provider. Use that email solely for sending marketing emails.
The first one should be the same domain that your website is on and will be used for your day-to-day communication. (If you don’t have a website, you should get one fast, seriously—that’s a cost-effective way of gaining new clients.)
In addition to spam filters being triggered by content, they can also be triggered at some providers simply by the larger volume of marketing emails sent from one email address alone. So you run the risk of your normal communications being cut off if you use that address for your marketing email. Using a different domain for the marketing emails will most likely keep your main communication untouched.
What you should never do:
DO NOT USE one of the big companies like RR.com or Yahoo as your email provider. Most likely you will end up as one of our clients did: “Help, I am not receiving emails…. I lost a big customer because I did not get his email!” We investigated the problem and found out that RR.com was blocking emails sent to the client's RR.com mailbox. Unfortunately that was their main email account.
What you should do:
USE your own domain and find a reputable hosting company and use that as your main email accounts. We are here to help with this (and also to get you an affordable web site if you don’t have one).
And yes, we tried resolving the problems we had with the major providers, but they justified their practices by saying, “In order to fight spam, we know that legitimate email is affected.” This does not help you at all, especially since you don’t know if you are missing out on emails or not!
As every big email or internet provider nowadays is trying to keep spam down and therefore taking the risk to target legitimate email as spam, it is advised to NOT use them as the provider for your main business email. It’s much better to have the spam AND that important email in your in-box than not getting the spam AND NOT getting that important email.
It only takes the delete key to get rid of the spam but it takes a lot more to repair a customer relationship.