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Your Dolphin E-mail Caught In Spam Tuna Net?

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Let me ask a couple of questions:

  • If (potential) customers sends an e-mail to your company, do they want to receive an answer?
  • If you, in return, e-mail your customer, do you expect that your e-mail is delivered to the customer?
    • Well, in my case, I answered "YES" on both questions. After all, the customer asks for an answer, so it's normal to expect that when you send an e-mail in return, that the customer receives it.

      Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

      It is highly important that you get this point, so let me rephrase that:

      If you send an e-mail to a customer that the customer wants and expects, it may be that (s)he never receives it!

      I've investigated this issue, and the cause of this is the filtering of e-mail by the ISP of the customer, to prevent unwanted SPAM (unsollicited e-mail) to make its way into their mailbox. But not only genuine SPAM is filtered out. Even e-mail that the customer wants (and often expects) to receive, may be caught up in this filter. It's happening so often, there's even a term for it: "false positives".

      Sometimes this stays unnoticed, because the customer doesn't get a mail telling her that it was filtered out. Or you don't get a reply from the ISP/filter that your mail didn't pass.

      Your "dolphin" e-mail can essentially be caught in SPAM filter "tuna nets".

      This can impact businesses on many levels:

      • Potential customers do not convert into real customers, because they never "heard from you".
      • Unhappy customers as they "never get an answer on their support requests".
      • Unhappy Customers that don't get the info / product they paid for (download instructions for digital products are often delivered by e-mail)
        • When this happens, the customer usually points the finger to the business...

          ...YOUR business was not responsive;

          ...YOUR business didn't resolve the customer's issues;

          ...YOUR business did not deliver!

          But, of course, you are not to blame. You responded! You resolved! you delivered! It's the customer's ISP that didn't deliver. An e-mail your customer wanted, and expected.

          Mistakes do happen. But sometimes, ISP's and mail service businesses have no interest in righting what went wrong. And since they are not blamed, they get away with doing nothing. But in the mean time, your and my business is hurt by this.

          So, it is time to point customers in the right direction. If more and more customers know where to complain if they do not get the e-mail they wanted, chances are that the ISP and/or mail service are forced into action.

          There's a lot an ISP or mail service can do. Customers should have the possibility to "whitelist" you. A "whitelist" is a list of e-mail addresses or domains from which the customer allows mail to continue, even when the filter thinks it's "junk". One option that's not an option is to ask customers to switch off the filter. SPAM is just too big a problem for this.

          Another company that have taken the heat for filtered mail is SiteSell. They're blamed for not delivering as promissed, because their e-mail was filtered out. And they hit a wall of unresponsiveness when they tried to right this. Or was it that their requests were filtered out? ;-)

          As they understood how this is hurting their business, and many other businesses around the globe, they decided to take action, and point customers in the right direction when wanted e-mail doesn't make it into their mailboxes. So they created the "Deliver my mail!" initiative, which I fully support.

          I invite you to join them and me. Read more about "Deliver my Mail!" on:

          Let's take a stand, and educate customers on what to do if they do not receive e-mail they really wanted to get. Let customers demand:

          "DELIVER MY MAIL!"

          About The Author

          Erwin Steneker is a senior support consultant with over 13 years of experience in both sales and IT support. Check out his website at

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