1 (edited by: rlm Apr 12, 2021 01:40 pm)

Topic: Emails & spam filtering

Anyone ever have issues with email - wondering if their messages were ever read?

I get a steady stream of inquiries via web contact forms.  The forms send me an email, with the sender email address specified as the email address filled in from the contact form.  This way when I hit reply, it goes directly to the proper email address.

So I respond and then often get no response back.  Of course I expect its mostly people who see the price is above their expectations or are tire kickers and don't want to make an initial offer, so they never respond.  I get that.  But sometimes I wonder if messages are being filtered by spam filters and never read.

Case in point:  I got an automated email from someone's mail server/spam filter saying the following:

Your message

   To: ---- --------
   Subject: Re: -----
   Sent: November 23, 2020 12:21:36 AM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

was deleted without being read on April 8, 2021 10:13:44 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada).

I'm not even sure how that can happen, obviously the average deleted email doesn't send out a warning to the sender.  So it seems as if his mail server quarantined the message, and auto-deleted it after some period of time.  But thankfully it bounced the message to me that it hadn't been read.

So I email the guy again - this time he gets it and immediately wants to talk on the phone.  A few minutes later I've got a $5650 sale.

Clearly he _wanted_ to read that message, was even expecting a reply - but somehow it got missed back in November. Thankfully the server emailed me the warning that it was deleted without being read (which frankly I've never seen before).  Anyone ever seen that before?

So I try to remember to follow up on inquiries that haven't been responded to every few weeks.  I'm saying, "if not interested, let me know and I'll mark this inquiry closed" just as a way to close off that lead, and I'm hoping that they don't want me to keep nagging them so they take the two seconds to reply with a "not interested".   While that has certainly helped, still, I don't seem to get replies to many of those either.

I've checked my outgoing messages against spam filters and they seem to be clean.  My mail server isn't blacklisted either.  So it is a bit frustrating to wonder if my replies are even being read 100% of the time.

I'm considering adding in an automatic email validation step - you know where you get the email and click the link to validate the email before the system sends me the actual inquiry.  This way I know they've clicked the link.  During that step I can also tell them to add me to their contacts so my reply is sure to be received.

Anyone else have any thoughts or experiences with this issue?

Liked by: FM, jaydub

2

Re: Emails & spam filtering

Definitely one of the more interesting reads today

Nice to see you made the sale

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Re: Emails & spam filtering

I find some people just don’t respond no matter what. I find it very odd that people make inquiries and then go silent. So it definitely makes you question whether your reply was even read. I’ve learned not to care anymore though. If you want a domain that bad I’m sure you can follow up.

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Re: Emails & spam filtering

rlm wrote:

I'm considering adding in an automatic email validation step - you know where you get the email and click the link to validate the email before the system sends me the actual inquiry.  This way I know they've clicked the link.  During that step I can also tell them to add me to their contacts so my reply is sure to be received.

The potential problem with this is that spammers/bots might use that to send unwanted email via the validation system --- and those might get marked as spam, hurting your domain's reputation and future deliverability.

I tend to just followup once if I don't receive a reply after a few days, although sometimes by phone too (my contact form asks for their phone number as well as email).

George Kirikos - (416) 588-0269
Follow me on Twitter.

GeorgeK's Website

Liked by: FM

5

Re: Emails & spam filtering

GeorgeK wrote:

The potential problem with this is that spammers/bots might use that to send unwanted email via the validation system --- and those might get marked as spam, hurting your domain's reputation and future deliverability.

True, but they already try to abuse the contact form as it is, so really no difference.  The captcha does a decent job of stopping most of that, but I also have some custom filtering that just ignores attempts to send messages that look spammy.  I do log all attempts to submit a form on my server to a log file, just so I can periodically review anything I might have accidentally filtered out, but so far so good, no problems.

And with the validation email step, I can inform them to check their messages immediately, and if it doesn't show up, check their spam folder right away.

I'm even considering a slightly different form of email validation - because its less about validation, and more about making sure my messages don't go into their spam folder.  So rather than having them click a link, I may have them _reply_ to my validation message.  The simple fact that they've replied to my "validation" message means that their system will now recognize my email address as being a "contact", and thus my real reply will be even less likely to be marked as spam.

In any case, yes, a follow up phone call is something I really need to get into the habit of.  Probably the best way to close a deal is on the phone anyways.

6

Re: Emails & spam filtering

rlm wrote:

True, but they already try to abuse the contact form as it is, so really no difference.

There is a difference, because at present the contact form emails just go to you, and you can then manually filter out the abusive ones. You would then reply only to non-abusive ones, acting yourself as the filter.

If you changed it to send a validation email first to a recipient specified by an abuser (e.g. maybe they fill out the contact form 10,000 times via bots to random email addresses), other people will have a chance to say "No, we don't validate this, it's spam!" and that action of many people marking your email as spam would harm your domain's reputation.

George Kirikos - (416) 588-0269
Follow me on Twitter.

7

Re: Emails & spam filtering

GeorgeK wrote:

There is a difference, because at present the contact form emails just go to you, and you can then manually filter out the abusive ones. You would then reply only to non-abusive ones, acting yourself as the filter

I understand what you're saying, but I'm finding that google's invisible recaptcha I'm using in the form does a remarkably good job of filtering out the spammers, so the emails from those bogus form entries never get sent. Basically google returns a score, and you can decide if its high enough to consider it to be legit. So for me, anything with a score >= 0.5, I consider it legit and send the email. Anything with a score < 0.5, it doesn't send.  It is pretty rare that something spammy slips through to me.  Like maybe one a month or less.  Its very rare.  And because I fear that something legit might get filtered, I write that to a log file that I can periodically browse.  But I just don't see legit stuff getting blocked either.

8

Re: Emails & spam filtering

Are there any issues with China, if you use the Google ReCAPTCHA? My understanding was that many Google services are blocked in China, and so a legitimate inquiry from China might get blocked by mistake due to those technical issues.

George Kirikos - (416) 588-0269
Follow me on Twitter.

9 (edited by: rlm Yesterday 12:18 am)

Re: Emails & spam filtering

GeorgeK wrote:

Are there any issues with China, if you use the Google ReCAPTCHA? My understanding was that many Google services are blocked in China, and so a legitimate inquiry from China might get blocked by mistake due to those technical issues.

Interesting to know.  However, its not too much of a concern for me.  The domains I've sold to Chinese buyers havent had issues, and they were through a broker - who are probably savvy enough to know those issues and get around them too.  And the majority of my portfolio is .CA so I'm not too concerned about China there either.  And I do have that "fail safe" log file that logs EVERY post attempt to a log file.  I periodically browse that just to make sure nothing important got blocked.

Oh, and the invisible captcha stopped 973 spam contact-form submissions, just today, and not even a full day!  None were legit that got blocked.  And no legit submissions were blocked either.  So it has a good track record.

10

Re: Emails & spam filtering

I imagine you've already set up all the relevant SPF etc. records, but one step I can recommend from helping a registrar (before WHC) I was working with to manage spammers faking their domains as a sender address. A DMARC record with a reporting email. We used the free service from Postmark: https://dmarc.postmarkapp.com/ . They then send you a weekly email to verify that your emails align with your SPF records etc and can also help you identify IP addresses and servers that send emails under your domains. In one case there was a lot of spam being sent under a client's domain and it stopped after I contacted the hoster.

Domains Product Manager @WHC
(514) 504-2113 x7209

Liked by: rlm

11

Re: Emails & spam filtering

I have set up a dmarc record to get reports sent to me that summarize the number of pass/fails from the major providers.  So I get daily emails from the likes of google & yahoo, they give a general idea if your emails are getting through, but not any detail about specific messages.  It sounds like the postmarkapp does something similar, but I'm guessing it aggregates those reports for you?  In any case, it sounds like it is worth checking out.