Common Email Problems In Ecommerce – And How To Solve Them

In the 10 years (or so) Spork has been in business, email issues have been surprisingly common among our clients. More times than we can count, clients have asked us for help with email deliverability issues (people not getting emails), email reliability issues (email doesn’t always work), email storage problems (not enough storage), email organization, etc.

Whether you have an ecommerce website or not, the following post might help you fix problems with your email system.

Please note, however, that we’re not an email service provider or consulting company. We just know about email because clients have asked us for help, and we’ve gladly obliged. If you need email help, we recommend contacting Techminds.co or NeighborhoodIT.org. They’re the professionals.

Common Problem #1 – Your Customers Aren’t Getting Your Emails

Maybe your customers aren’t getting their order notifications. Maybe they aren’t getting the shipping and tracking notifications. Either way, the solution probably has something to do with your emails getting routed to your customer’s “spam” or “junk” filter.

Usually, email goes to the spam/junk filter because the sender (your email server) isn’t trusted. You can solve this problem by:

  1. Adding an SPF record to your domain, and/or
  2. Upgrading your email system

Adding An SPF Record To Your Domain

How SPF Works

SPF makes it possible for emails to be authenticated. A text record is added to the sender’s domain, and that record indicates which server(s) are allowed to send mail. Image via UnlockTheInbox.com.

SPF stands for “sender policy framework,” but basically it’s a return address label for all your outgoing email. By adding an SPF record to your domain, you’re telling all the email servers in the world where email is supposed to come from. Sometimes, adding an SPF record will solve your email delivery problems.

To add an SPF, check with your domain registrar. GoDaddy has a good tutorial for adding an SPF record here, and you can use this SPF wizard to generate the record you need. If all this SPF business is too much to think about, you can enlist one of the professional IT firms we mentioned above.

Upgrading Your Email System

If adding an SPF record doesn’t solve your deliverability problems, the issue might be your email system itself. For a variety of reasons, email servers can become associated with spam. When this association occurs, it’s very hard to fix. Often times, the only solution is to upgrade to a business-class email system. Our suggested email providers are Google Apps for Business and Zoho Mail. Google Apps for Business costs $5 per month per user, while Zoho is available for free (with some limitations).

Upgrading is easy enough – changing a domain’s MX records, and then reconfiguring your email client(s). If you aren’t sure about how to do this, contact one of the IT companies we mention above.

Common Problem #2 – Your Email Isn’t Reliable

Hosting your own email system is hard. It can often require the full-time effort of an in-house IT person, and if your company is using unconventional hardware or software, email can be problematic.

Likewise, if you’re using the email that comes with your website hosting, you may have issues with random outages, missed messages, etc.

Either way, the best solution is to upgrade to either Google Apps for Business or Zoho Mail. Google costs $5 per month per user, while Zoho is available for free up to 10 users. Google is the system we use here at Spork, but we’ve setup people with Zoho and it’s perfectly good.

Common Problem #3 – Your Email Account Isn’t Big Enough

Another issue we’ve seen a few times over the years is that our clients don’t have enough storage. This can be because email is used to send and receive a lot of images or documents, or because the email system you have is too small.

Either way, our solution is to upgrade to Google Apps for Business or Zoho Mail. Google will provide up to 10GB (or thereabouts) for the standard fee, and up to 100GB of email storage for an extra $5 per month per user. Zoho’s free system has 5GB of storage. For something between $0 and $10 per user per month, you can have an email account with 5 to 100GB of storage.

Common Problem #4 – Your Email Isn’t Branded

If you’re sending emails for your business from @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc., we advise you to stop doing that in the strongest possible terms.

First, sending business email from a personal account like this isn’t very professional. Consumers are forgiving if your business is small, but once you have some success you really want to start sending email from your domain name.

Email attachment virus

Email attachment viruses are common, difficult to detect, and can automatically spread to your entire contact list. Image via Mailguard.

Second, personal accounts like this aren’t very secure. If you use your personal email address for more than just work, you’re taking a chance that your business account (and all your customers) will be subject to a phishing attack. If your Aunt Ida accidentally sends you an infected attachment, and you open it, every one of your customers is going to get an infected attachment too. If you use a business class email system, the odds of this happening are lower.

Last but not least, a business-class email system usually includes organizational tools (shared docs, calendars, etc.) that every business finds useful at some point. We recommend Google Apps for Business or Zoho Mail. Zoho is available for free, while Google’s system costs $5 per user per month.

Again, Talk To the Professionals

If you have an email problem, please don’t contact us (well, unless you’re one of our clients – then you can totally contact us). Talk to a professional IT company instead, as they can help you with any other issues you may be having (computer problems, CRM needs, etc.).

We recommend contacting Techminds.co or NeighborhoodIT.org. We’ve referred clients to both of these IT companies in the past, and they’ve done a great job for us in the past.

Good luck!

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