When I send an email outgoing, it ends up in the recipient spam or junk folder Print

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Problem Description

These are various descriptions of this issue:

  • Outgoing email from a Websavers hosted email account results in the message being filtered by the recipient's mail server into their spam or junk mailbox.
  • My email goes to people's junk folders and my email is hosted with Websavers. How do I get emails into the inbox and not junk?
  • Messages sent from Websavers hosted email accounts to Outlook.com / Office 365 / Microsoft hosted email accounts never arrive at the destination. This occurs because of Microsoft's "Quarantine" system and must be released by the mail administrator for the Office 365 account.

How do I get emails into the inbox and not junk/spam/quarantine?

Problem Resolution

There are a number of possible reasons for this as listed below along with their solutions. They are listed in order of most common to least common solutions. If you have not ensured all of these are fixed and you request support, we will simply direct you here. You MUST check all of these items and repair any that apply before requesting help.

  1. Signature is too large and/or contains images. Signatures were never meant to contain images or large blocks of information like they often do these days. Because spammers have started taking advantage of this by putting normal-sounding text in the email body and spam content in the signature, spam protection solutions have started to look deeply into signatures as a source of spam.
    SOLUTION: you should never use large signature areas, nor include any images or custom fonts in your signature. Stick to a simple text version that contains your name and at most 3 types of basic contact info (e.g.: title,tel,cell). An email address should not be listed in your signature because people can simply click reply.
  2. Incorrect or missing SPF Record, DKIM record, or DMARC record: Services like those provided by Gmail and Microsoft (Office 365, hotmail, outlook.com, etc) will often filter messages to spam if you are not using both SPF, DKIM, and DMARC email forgery protection systems. You might have an SPF record that allows only certain servers to send emails from your domain, however you're sending using a server that isn't on the list. Or you might not have an SPF record and DKIM record at all. SPF and DKIM are spam forgery protection systems that help protect your domain from being forged.
    SOLUTION: To resolve this, read more about it and follow our guide to implementing mail validation records.
  3. Prolific use of Auto-Replies: You regularly use 'out of office' auto replies and one of them was inadvertently sent to a Spam "honeypot". This occurs because a 'fake' spam message was sent to your email address to see if it is emitting spam. When the auto-reply kicked in it is picked up as a positive record of spamming, causing your domain to be blocklisted.
    SOLUTION: See "Have you been blocklisted?" below for a short-term solution. For a better long-term solution, your absolute best option is to not use auto replies. Auto replies are damaging to both the email system as a whole and to your domain's mail reputation.
  4. Your emails have 'spammy' content.
    SOLUTION: Read over your email content to ensure you don't have text that sounds like an overt sales pitch or use words that could be banned, like 'drug' or 'sex'. Avoid including images in your emails whenever possible; this will inherently make it seem spammy-er. Do not include links in your email, or include only one link. Do not include images in your email unless they are attached (embedded images will frequently be flagged as spammy).
  5. Your email client is old.
    SOLUTION: Change mail applications. For example, using Websavers webmail frequently results in better mail delivery than using an older version of Outlook as old Outlook versions are rarely used anymore and can appear spammy to newer mail servers because many spammers make their messages look like they're coming from older and commonly used versions of Outlook.
  6. Blocklisted: Your address or domain has been added to a blocklist for unknown reasons.
    SOLUTION: See the section below called 'Have you been blocklisted?' to help solve this.
  7. Sending to a Microsoft Account: Please see our section below on Microsoft/Exchange/Outlook spam filtering
  8. Sending to a Google Account: Use your Google account to sign up for Postmaster Tools and add your domain. There Google will show you why messages from your domain are encountering difficulties.

Once you have ensured all (applicable) of the above are fixed, and you've waited 24 hours after all DNS changes, if you continue to have messages delivered to the spam folder, we will require the email headers from the message as it was received (in spam/junk). Here's how the recipient can obtain the message headers for you and send them to us for analysis.

Microsoft, Outlook, Exchange Spam Filters

If messages are still being delivered to Junk/Spam when sent to a Microsoft product, like hotmail.com; live.com; outlook.com, or any Microsoft365 hosted email account, you'll need to analyze the headers in detail. First learn how to view the mail headers at the destination here. Once you have the headers, look for the following headers and solutions:

  • Authentication-results - This contains info on authentication records, like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. You should have no trouble with these if you've completed the steps above.
  • X-Microsoft-Antispam: BCL - Bulk Complaint Level: if this is not zero, MS believes this is a bulk sender (like spam sender)
  • X-MS-Exchange-Organization-PCL - Phishing Confidence Level: if this is higher than 3, MS believes the message is an attempt at phishing.
  • X-MS-Exchange-Organization-SCL - Spam Confidence Level: this is the dreaded content filter. Lower numbers are better. If it's higher than 3, then this is likely the reason your message went to spam. See our message below about this.

Microsoft Content Filter (SCL): Microsoft has explicitly stated on their own bug reporting system (also here) that they do not care to provide more information about how their content filter works and that the headers that indicate why the message is considered spammy are intended to be read only by Microsoft support techs. They've also indicated that it's up to the recipient to mark those messages as 'not spam' to improve the sender's SCL score. If all headers described above look good and your SCL score is the only indicator as to why the message may have been delivered to Spam, and your content is definitively not spammy, then we encourage you to complain to Microsoft support, with the hope that eventually they will change this terrible policy.

Microsoft Documentation Sources:

Have you been blocklisted?

There are two types of blocklisting: Server IP Blocklisting, and Domain or Email Address blocklisting.

Server Blocklisting

We use three tactics to prevent mail server blocklisting, as follows. Tactic 3 applies only to our shared servers.

  1. We regularly monitor our server IPs for blocklistings and react within 4-6 hours whenever it occurs,
  2. We enforce outgoing mail volume limits to prevent mass spam from being sent should an account be compromised, and
  3. We use a custom mail relay that scans all outgoing mail for spammy content and prevents it from leaving our networks if it is found to be spam.

This means that as of 2018 (when we implemented all of these tactics) blocklisting of our server IP addresses is extremely rare. If you have a VPS of your own or believe the IP of one of our shared servers is blocklisted, MX Toolbox has a great blocklist bulk checker here where you can check to see if the IP has been added to the most common mail blocklisting databases.

Domain or Email Address Blocklisting

Your particular domain or email address can still be blocklisted, even if our server IP is not.

If your domain has been blocked, the bounce message you get from the recipient's mail server should help you to resolve the problem. Look carefully at the bounce email and you'll find steps to fix the problem. Here's a common one from Symantec's Message Labs:

The mail system [email_address] host cluster1.us.messagelabs.com[] said:
553-Message filtered. Refer to the Troubleshooting page at
553-http://www.symanteccloud.com/troubleshooting for more 553 information.
(#5.7.1) (in reply to end of DATA command)

Click on that troubleshooting link and we can match the error here (553-message filtered) to the errors on the page to find a solution. It indicates "Please review the False Positive submission article to submit a false positive message for analysis." with a link to the false positive article. Therefore, if you have already conformed to the rest of the requirements in that section, then you should submit the false positive as requested so their server techs can investigate and ultimately remove your domain/email address from the block.

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