Why is Gmail always marking email from a specific sender as spam even after I keep clicking “Report not spam”?
We do not use Gmail for our company, but as an internet service provider we host email for many of our customers. It is a big issue when emails sent from our servers do not arrive in the recipient’s inbox. To better understand why this is happening, we’re going to take a quick look at how email works.
Email, or electronic mail, is sent via a complex network of servers owned by many different independent providers. They all must get along and communicate to achieve the goal of delivering billions of messages per hour across the internet. Usually, this delivery happens in a very short amount of time and without any issues. Usually.
Enter “Bad Actors”, these are companies or individuals, scammers and miscreants that use email in adverse ways to take advantage of or steal from people. We’ve all heard stories of people that have fallen victim to these deceptions. But spam does not come from only these parties, even good companies can become spammers by sending out unwanted information in ways that do not follow best practices and good decorum.
We all want protection from the unwanted and malicious email messages flying through cyber space. Over time, the email industry has built up safeguards to better protect users’ inboxes. Antivirus, Blacklists, Spam Filtering, and Mystic Filtering are some of the tools leveraged to protect our inbox.
Most computer users know what antivirus is by now. In the email world, it is a hook into mail servers that allows the mail servers to pass all inbound and outbound messages through an antivirus scanner before sending or delivering messages to users. This process allows for blocking and removal of messages that appear to have viruses or malware in them, content intended to infect other users’ computers and systems. Unfortunately, sometimes these are disguised very well and get through the antivirus software. This is why it is important to always think before you click on a link or download something from an email.
Blacklists are lists of email servers, IPs, or domains that have been suspected of sending spam. Sometimes a good domain will find itself blacklisted for not following best practices with an email marketing campaign, but it usually happens because your email account has been compromised. Being compromised can occur a variety of ways:
- Using an unsecure WiFi network
- Clicking on an invalid link, “verifying” your password, and falling victim to a phishing scam
- Downloading a virus from an email, thinking it was a valid file
- Being a victim of a site with a data breach
- Not logging out when you were using a public or shared computer
- Using a weak password that was able to be cracked
Any of these scenarios, and these aren’t even all the ways, allow “Bad Actors” to start using your email account to send out unwanted email messages. Being blacklisted is a big issue as an email provider because it impacts all users on the affected mail server. We go great lengths to put safeguards in place and work to educate users to reduce the risk of being blacklisted.
Spam Filtering is the process of analyzing inbound and outbound messages to see if they have the finger prints an unwanted message. This is a complex process of weights and rules that checks:
- Are certain words being used in certain combinations
- Are the sending messages, security signed
- Do the sending domains have the right settings in the DNS
The list goes on. All of this data accumulates to answer one simple question, does this email coming to your account deserve to get to your inbox, your junk/spam box, or is it refused or deleted without you ever knowing it was sent?
Mystic Filtering is a new term that we have coined. This happens when an email provider such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or any others use other methods such as a sender’s reputation or other often unpublished factors in determining if messages coming from a given user or email server should be blocked, returned, or ranked higher in their spam rating system. Mystic Filtering is often the hardest to work with as the mail server managers often publish straightforward rules for sending them messages, that even when followed can still result in messages being refused or caught by spam systems. The providers assert that if they tell everyone the rules, the “Bad Actors” can then better craft ways around them; however this can leave the rest of us frustrated and perplexed when our messages don’t arrive where and when we intended.
In all fairness to Google’s Gmail, they are not the only company that have delivery issues. Every big and small company alike that wants to protect their users has to deal with these issues. Gmail is just one of the largest, and it requires wading through many steps to keep them happy. If you use Gmail and want to make sure messages from a given user are not always going to your spam folder, there are a few easy steps:
- Login to your Gmail account
- From the Gear Menu, select “Settings”
- Under “Filters and Blocked Addresses”, at the bottom, click “Create a new filter”
- In the Filter, place the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”, or sender’s domain “domain.com” (if you want all emails from that company)
- Click “Create filter”
- Put a check in the box “Never send it to Spam” and then click “Create filter”
Messages from that sender should now come directly into your inbox; you can add as many filters as you like. Most email providers have a similar mechanism to whitelist senders that are getting improperly classified as spam. Becoming acquainted with your email provider’s processes can greatly ease your frustrations.
At Grand Dial Communications, we have years of experience not only providing high quality email and technology solutions, but we are capable of supporting many of our competitors’ offerings as well. This allows us to effectively be your complete communications and technology solutions provider.
Bryant Zimmerman (CEO Grand Dial Communications)
Please contact us today; we would like to make a difference for you and your organization!