In this article we look at how to set up email for better deliverability and explain how to troubleshoot issues when emails do not always make it to a recipient. In summary, we will cover:
- Setup which administrators will receive email notifications
- Setup your email 'from' addresses correctly to avoid SPF issues
- Ensure your emails are not seen as spammy or spoofed
- How IP addresses and blacklisting works for spammy sending
- Common issues and solutions to troubleshoot issues
- Stopping admin emails going into the spam folder
- Using 3rd party sending services for more reliable delivery and better tracking
- Receiving notifications via SMS as well
- Receiving notifications via real-time desktop and mobile notifications using Pushbullet
Use MAILGUN to send your emails? More help in our troubleshooting guide for Mailgun deliverability
1. Set Up Which Admins Will Receive Emails
Administrators will receive different types of email notifications. These include leads generated from form replies on your web pages, new user registrations, new testimonials, file downloads, new order notifications, stock alerts, product enquiries, order return requests and product reviews.
- Setup which admins will receive notifications in Site Settings > Company > Contact Email. This becomes the general address used for notifications.
Tip: you can enter multiple email addresses here separated by " ; " so they go to more than one person, e.g. email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you want to direct specific types of notifications to specific admins, set these up in Email Notifications. You can also set this to work on a user group basis. For example:
- email@example.com wants to receive order notifications from retail customers
- firstname.lastname@example.org only wants order notifications from trade customers
- email@example.com wants to receive notifications when clients leave testimonials
- Form processes also have logic filters which allow you to send emails to specific email addresses rather than just sending to the main Contact Email set up above. You can also set rules up in Email Notifications for forms.
2. Setting Up Where Your Email Comes From
When emails are sent they have to have a FROM email address set on them. For example when a customer buys a product they would get an email notification from your company and the 'from' address might be firstname.lastname@example.org. The 'from' address is important because it can be cross-checked to make sure it is genuinely sent by you and not spoofed, using something called 'SPF' records.
When you and your users receive an email it will have a 'from' address set up in the system:
- When users receive an email from the system (e.g. confirming an order) it will come from the first email address set up in Site Settings > Company > Contact Email
- When an admin receives an email from the system (e.g. a notification that a user has placed an order) it will also come from the first email address set up in Site Settings > Company > Contact Email
However, the "reply-to" email address will be set to the user that triggered the notification.
Also on form replies we will set the "from name" as the user's name.
Remember that the 'from' address is often used to identify and stop spam / spoof emails. So to simplify the conditions set above and improve deliverability, we recommend setting up the 'From' email address in SMTP Email Settings > Email Defaults > Override From Address with an email address set up on your domain e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org which you control and can monitor.
3. Ensuring Your Emails Aren't Seen As 'Spammy' Or 'Spoofed'
- Where used, your SPF record should be set up on the DNS of the domain used in the 'from' address. This is usually your own domain name, but you may have chosen to send from a different domain in which case you would use that one. SPF records are often set up incorrectly when using Microsoft Outlook / Office 365 because your IP address is not added into the SPF record. You can check your website IP & email address you are sending to are set up on your SPF record correctly with our SPF debugging tool.
- To stop emails that are sent to you from going to your own spam folder, set your email client's rules/ filters to let through your 'from' address, or alternatively enter the email Subject line (for example 'New form response' or 'New order received'. See how to do this on Gmail or Office365.
- When sending email campaigns from Email Manager, you can also check your content does not appear 'spammy' which would result in your campaign not getting through to the recipient list. Simply send a test email from Email Manager for your campaign to a tool like Mail Tester.
4. IP Addresses & Blacklisting For Spammy Behaviour
When the email is being sent from the server, it uses an 'IP address' to indicate the starting location as it sets off on its journey across the internet to the recipient. By default, emails are sent from your site's IP address. If you send out lots of emails that look spammy, then your IP address will be blocked and you won't be able to send out emails. We automatically monitor spam blacklists to check your IP address has not been blacklisted. If you are using an email address that is from another domain to send emails from, then we advise you set up your own blacklist monitoring using a tool like MXToolbox for that domain (for example, your domain is playstuff.co.uk but the 'from' email address you have set up is email@example.com).
You can use 3rd party services such as Mailgun to send larger volumes of email or for better deliverability tracking, in which case it will come from their IP addresses. However, if you are sending out spam email via these services then they are likely to block your account as you will have damaged their IP address reputation.
5. Troubleshooting Emails That Aren't Delivered
We have our own REC+ mail system for sending notifications and low volume email campaigns (higher volume campaigns should use a 3rd party service like Mailgun to deliver the emails. Our queues send email quickly and are monitored to make sure there are no undue delays. Once our queue has sent an email then it's ability to be delivered thereafter is outside of our control because of other factors mainly relating to the recipients Inbox status, holiday settings, email client settings and filters, their ISP or your domain's SPF setting (used to stop 'spoofing').
These are the common issues and solutions for non-deliverability of emails:
|Common Issue||Typical Solution|
|An SPF record has not been set up correctly on your domain|
**This is currently the main issue with deliverability issues**
|Make sure you set up your SPF record on your domain to include your website domain and other relevant email servers. See the advice below. Read more about SPF on the OpenSPF site.|
Example SPF record for Microsoft Outlook on Office 365:
|Your SPF record has recently been changed (e.g. for Office365) and your website IP address has not been added||Check your website IP & email address you are sending to are set up on your SPF record correctly with our SPF debugging tools |
|The email has ended up in the recipients SPAM folder due to their system filters||Recipient checks their spam folder and finds the email and then adds you to their email client 'whitelist' to stop this happening in future. Applies to admins whose notifications are going into spam as well - see below for details.|
|The recipient's email address was entered incorrectly||You will receive a bounce back to your email account (the one set up in either your Company settings, form settings if it is a form response or Email Manager). You can then clean them off your email list if no longer valid.|
|The email is undeliverable due to issues such as the recipient's mailbox being full||You may wish to retain their email address in your database as they may clear the issue.|
|Your email campaign list has been halted part way through sending because your email list is not clean enough (applies when using 3rd party services such as Mailgun)||You will need to clean your email list and liaise with your 3rd party provider to unblock your account.|
6. Not Receiving Admin Email Notifications?
First of all make sure the emails have not been put into your spam folder. If they have, set your email client's rules/ filters to let through your 'from' address, or alternatively enter the email Subject line (for example 'New form response' or 'New order received'. See how to do this on Gmail or Office365
Remember, all emails from contact forms are recorded in the forms database. Simply go into Forms & Processes and check the relevant form to see if you have received any enquiries.
7. Tracking Deliverability Issues In More Detail Using 3rd Party Sending Services
If emails aren't being delivered to some recipients or some of the time, we recommend use Mailgun to deliver the emails. This has a more detailed log of all the emails it sends out for each recipient, so you can narrow down where the issue is occurring.
These services will also capture any bounce backs in their systems. NB They will block campaigns that appear to have a lot of spam addresses and you will have to contact them directly to unblock your account after you clean your email list.
8. Use SMS To Receive Alerts
You can set up SMS text messaging for sending notifications to customers placing orders and also for receiving alerts when forms are filled in.
9. Use Pushbullet To Receive Alerts
Pushbullet provides real-time alerts which pop up on your laptop screen and mobile device.