You spent tireless hours creating your business model, even longer perfecting your website to be the best that it can be. Taking count of your competitors, positioning yourself with a uniqueness that surely could not see you fail.
You agonized for weeks over the perfect website hosting company for your business, and chose the one that guaranteed you 99% uptime (you want your website ‘up’!). You have staff in place, or indeed if working alone, know that you will be your own ‘one-woman’ customer support team.
You have made an executive decision, through the hundreds of business meetings that you have had with yourself (in your own head – whilst falling asleep, in the bath and eating lunch) that you will be providing email sales and email customer support only. After all, if it is good enough for eBay then it is good enough for you yes.
Everything is in place, the site is live, the search engine marketing firm has been contracted for $39.95 a month (you don’t have much of a budget just yet), the advertising is in place and you have decided to do this yourself to save extra money (after all you summarize, why hire a company to look after PPC when you can easily do it yourself right).
It’s Monday, the perfect ‘go-live’ day, 1500 hours and the site has been live 8 hours, your pride and joy is up and running and your dream of making an online business a reality is now yours. You are getting visitors and hey, you are even starting to get sales and it’s all looking good.
You have employed some of the best anti spam/junk mail filter software there is to avoid unwanted distractions whilst you respond to your new customers and your website hosting company also guarantees you the most vigorous defence at server level for unwanted email.
But…suddenly there is a problem, you start receiving emails complaining that you have not replied to other emails, which you had never received. At first you simply thought it was a ‘crazy’ customer or one of those lost emails that never get there that you know the traditional postal service are so well known for.
But….then there are 2 emails complaining of non-response, one from a customer who had bought from you the previous day demanding that if you do not respond immediately that they will charge-back the transaction! Where did that come from, you never received an email but you did receive this email – why was that, this really is coming more of a regular occurrence and something that you need to take action in resolving.
Now, not only are you losing sales by not receiving emails of a pre-sales nature but you are receiving emails from your customers complaining that once they buy from you that you cannot be contacted.
And so it starts, the beginning of the end, a bad reputation for customer support, charged-back transactions that cost you and your now struggling website business additional money and a realization that there seems to be a problem with email, but you do not know what it is.
Ok, so the above might seem a little extreme but we live in an extreme world where just one issue can make or break a company and as a small ‘one-woman’ online business who has spent so much money on search engine marketing, advertising and making your website the best that it can be, you really could do without such issues. You want to be a success, not gain a reputation as one whom provides terrible service.
Where do you look to resolve the issue?
No further than the spam/junk mail filter software you purchased and/or the service mail filters that your website hosting company put in place ‘for your protection’.
The very purpose for which spam/junk mail filters are implemented, being to protect your mailbox from unwanted email, can be the very same good intentions that cause you great issues with your customers and cause annoyance to distraction in resolution.
What is an unwanted email; yes the hundreds of spam emails selling the latest pharmaceutical product from yet another untrained and un-web-educated affiliate. Emails that you never asked for or indeed want – they are so annoying that you ensured that your home PC, which is also used by your 2 kids (12 and 15 years of age) employs the same level of spam email protection as your business PC. You didn’t want your kids to become privy to ‘adult’ spam themed emails that pop through every mail box from uncaring spammers across the world did you.
But wait, this is your business computer and your business website we are talking about now, not your home PC where spam and junk email filters are best put to use. Your business uses email as its main communication tool, is it really a wise idea to put your faith in a piece of software or your website hosting companies default mail filters. Should you not really take on the ownership of deciding what is and what is not junk email, and the question to really ask oneself is, can your website business really afford to put the decision of what should and what should not arrive in your email box.
Regardless of how ‘intelligent’ the spam filter is, how much control you have over it, or indeed how much control you do not have over it if a default feature of your website hosting email accounts, any website business worth its salt needs at the very least to consider all of the factors that make up this fundamental business decision – to filter, or not to filter.
Have you run all appropriate tests? Can you receive emails from Hotmail, Yahoo and other free web accounts? What happens if an attachment comes with the email, and are there any kind of content filters or ‘auto-responder’ issues to think about. What about the different ISP’s, can you receive from AOL users – or more importantly sometimes, can AOL users receive your emails.
Explore the next set of issues, perhaps you can receive all emails, but what happens if your customer is using s spam/junk email filter and they cannot receive your reply. The nightmare scenario then of you actually responding to your customers contact emails but because of their ISP or junk mail filter they cannot receive your replies, have you tested this, have you tested the content of your emails? If you lace HTML or URL’s within the content is that accepted…yes these are all issues that you should have considered before your website even went live but this is not a well documented or well discussed topic.
Yet, this should a subject of conversation, it should be a topic of interest and it certainly should be something that is addressed as part of every website implementation plan.
Do not let a spam or junk email filter ruin your business. Get it setup properly, with thorough implementation and gain knowledge of how to operate it correctly. Don’t let technology take over by simply selecting the ‘default’ option.
NOTE: Not all website hosting companies implement anti-spam filters by default. If in doubt, ask. This article does not assume that spam/junk email filters will ruin a business, only that the business in question should be thoroughly knowledgeable of any issues when running such software – and where implementation and spam control is available that these are properly set up.
How 'Default' Optioned Spam and Junk Email Filters Could Be Ruining Your Business