The email issue

Pic: Unsplash/Sebastian Hermann

What can be done about emails?  Computer columnist Matt Bentley takes a look.

Aside from email there is no easy way, in the digital world at least, for an unknown individual to contact you as a business or as an individual.

Email opened up the world to online commerce but also to online treachery. The number of scams and spam coming through our inboxes nowadays is both belittling and overwhelming.

No wonder the higher tech companies have turned to such draconian measures to filter our email for us. The downside of this is that even reasonable-sounding emails from small businesses can get flagged as spam or worse, which is both bad for business and bad for the consumer.

So what are the alternatives? Well, phone, for example, but a lot of people are more comfortable contacting over textual forms, particularly millennials. Facebook’s Messenger services is one solution, but not everybody likes facebook or wants to sign up for it, and given that companys track record, who can blame them?

Lastly there’s texting, but long-form txt communication is pretty hard-going in my experience. In the end, email is the most ‘open’ and widespread option – at least for now. So how do we get that working better, and get invoices past the spam filters? There are a few things you can do.

Both Google and some other companies have outlined procedures that businesses can go through to get their domains (ie. their website addresses) whitelisted as not-spam. These are complicated but doable.

Secondly, there are quite a lot of things you can do to the emails you send out which make them less likely to be flagged as spam. If you’re doing bulk emailing, including an unsubscribe link is essential. If not, making sure that you include your contact details (including address) in your email signature can help. Addressing the person you’re emailing by name, spelling correctly and many other things are relevant, but beyond the scope of this article.

If despite all of this you find yourself repeatedly flagged as spam by a given email provider, say, Spark or Gmail, the best thing to do is get your recipient to check their spam folder on their email’s website interface (eg. and flag it as ‘Not spam’. This gets things moving in the right direction. In terms of bigger tech companies there’s generally no way of contacting them unless you’re a paying customer, but in terms of local providers like Spark, you can talk to them and in many cases get them to whitelist your email address, or at least figure out why your emails are going into spam.

Hope this helps. Having seen many clients have their email addresses hacked and the consequences of that, one can understand why the spam filters are getting so precious about what they let through. But the downside is the gradual accretion of complication in our lives – which is the hallmark of the digital age.

Need help with your email? Phone Matt at 0211348567 or email
$60 per hour, or $50 for drop-off-to-workshop services.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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