Improving Email Delivery for Websites
October 19, 2023
What good is an email if the recipient never receives it? You may have noticed a frustrating trend of some emails sent by your website never getting to your intended recipients. This is due to multiple reasons, including legitimate emails getting flagged as spam, your server being blacklisted, or incorrect server settings.
Thankfully, we offer solutions to ensure that emails sent by your website are delivered to their intended recipients. To be clear, we are not talking about emails that you personally send to your customers or clients (although we can also help with that too). We are talking about emails that are automatically sent by your website for a multitude of reasons, including the following:
- Contact form confirmations
- Order receipts and shipping notices
- Account invitations and confirmations
- Admin notifications and invitations
- Email subscribe confirmations
- Email newsletters
- Security notices and alerts
We can ensure that whenever your website automatically generates and sends an email, it will be delivered reliably. There are multiple options to accomplish this and when you work with us, we will determine the best ones and implement them for you. Among the options we may recommend to ensure email delivery for your website are:
Domain-based Email: Your email address should match your website domain name. For example, if your website domain is widgets4u.com then you should use an email address like email@example.com. However, if you instead use an email like firstname.lastname@example.org, your email is likely to be marked as spam and not delivered.
DNS Updates: More often now, email services attempt to verify the sender of the email to confirm they are legit. One way they do this is by checking the DNS for your email address. DNS, which stands for Domain Name System, is like a giant phonebook for the internet, connecting a domain name to the server for that website, as well as email services. Two DNS settings that are important for email are DKIM and SPF. We will set these special records up for you to ensure your email is not marked as spam and to ensure smooth delivery.
PHPMailer: When an email is sent from your website, it is processed through the PHP scripting language running on your server. This is done in a basic way with minimal checks, formatting or anti-spam measures. For improved reliability – and especially for eCommerce websites where email delivery is crucial – we recommend PHPMailer. This is a code library that's used to send emails safely and easily via PHP code from a web server. It's basically a huge upgrade to the basic PHP mail sender your server uses, because it smartly formats and validates your emails in a way that improves deliverability.
SMTP: As noted above, in a standard configuration, email generated by your website is sent via your web server. While this usually works, the problem on the receiving end is that the email is not coming from an actual mailbox, because it's not: it's being sent directly from the server itself. To remedy this, we recommend configuring your website to send all auto generated emails via an actual mailbox that's been setup on your server. Following the example above, your email would be sent from email@example.com. To do so, PHPMailer is required. In fact, when all the above technologies are combined (Domain-based Email, DNS Updates, PHPMailer and SMTP), the reliability of your email delivery will be 95% or better.
Email API: As noted above, you can achieve 95% or better reliability with a combination of the technologies we've discussed. But what if you need 98% or better? Then you can integrate an email API service such as SendGrid. Services like this handle the delivery of your email through their servers which are optimized for reliable transmission and do a great job of getting emails into actual Inboxes rather than Spam folders. They also offer email delivery statistics, with the ability to trace individual email sends. While these companies charge for their services, it's worth it when you want to maximize your delivery rates, especially if your website is sending out bulk emails with 50 or more recipients simultaneously.
100% Delivery: What if you want 100% email delivery? Unfortunately, the best you can ever get is 99.99% which means there will always be some emails that just don't get delivered. That's why it's important for you to offer ways for your customers and clients to get in touch with you reliably. To this end, we offer contact forms as well as more sophisticated options such as phone numbers only for logged in customers as well as integrated chat tools. No matter what you choose, you need to offer ways for people to get in touch with you.
For clients whose websites are powered by our robust NMD System, the solutions above integrate nicely with simple configurations that we handle for you. If you are running a WordPress website, we can also offer the same solutions above using reliable plugins that we will install and configure for you as well.
Please Contact us so we can provide our recommendations for better email delivery along with a free estimate!