Error status as "Contact has not confirmed opt in"

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Most of our lists were created by importing large Excel spreadsheets of email addresses, not through sign ups. We are noticing that a large percentage of the recipients in our "Error" tabs are labeled as "This contact has not confirmed opt in." Is this the reason for the error? If not, where can we find the reason for the error?
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City of Vancouver, Washington

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Posted 4 years ago

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Kyle Floyd, Official Rep

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Hi Vancouver,

This is a great question. I think you will find some really helpful information in this Emma Community post from a few months back.

As for obtaining the error reasons; that data can be pulled by the Emma Support team for a specific mailing and provided to you. If you have a mailing that has more bounces than normal, let us know and we'll be glad to pull that data and pass it to you in a csv file format.

I hope that helps! Please feel free to reply here if you have additional questions related to this topic.
(Edited)
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City of Vancouver, Washington

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Thank you. So, to clarify on lists that use sign-up forms: do people HAVE to opt-in to receive emails or is that just an optional step when signing up?
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Confirming opt-in is not required to receive emails. We trust that if the user is signing themselves up for you list, that they do indeed want to receive communications from you! If they do go the extra step to confirm opt-in, you'll see that indicated in the contact's record.
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AGC of Washington

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My issue is that, aside from the opt-outs, about 750 of the 3,000 contacts in our database are “error” contacts, and they are not, getting, I assume, our mailings. I understand that, apparently, these issues are tied to problems on THEIR end, not ours -- but this is a very unacceptable number of unreachable members for us, and our events and programs are suffering considerably from their not getting our messages. What can I do to get this fixed? And a follow-up question too: if our contacts are in the "active" group, do we absolutely know that they are getting our emails, with no interference by spam filters or other problems? Or are there other issues that could make an 'active" user STILL not get our mailings???  Help is urgently need; thank you.

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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Hi AGC -- I'm happy to delve a little deeper into your account here. Are the majority of these error contacts in a specific audience group? If so, can you point me to that group? I'd like to see if I can find a recent mailing sent to that group that might shed some light.

Do you send most of your mailing to your general audience or to specific groups? Do you know how current your list of contacts is?

The "active" status ensures that you are able to send to that contact through Emma. We do our best to deliver each email to the inbox, but the receiving servers play a huge role in whether or not that email reaches the recipient's inbox safely. We mark an email (in the contact's history) as received when the server accepts it. Sometimes those servers will hold the emails before releasing them to the inbox, or may, for various reasons not deliver it beyond the first open door. You can read more about that here!

Thanks!
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AGC of Washington

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Emily, yes, they’re in the AGC Works group – virtually everyone in our database is in that one group – other groups are all sub-groups of this one big group.

 The “currency” of our contact list is pretty fluid, but we do a good job of adding new contacts, of course, and deleting obsolete ones. There are many members/contacts, though, I know, who are current members and just not getting our emails, for whatever reason.

 I completely get the idea of servers on their end being a primary reason for emails not getting through, but when it seems to be so common, I want to make sure there’s not anything we can do on our end, or even within our emails (too many images? Weird stuff like that?...) that would help...

- Sean/AGC

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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Gotcha! Thanks so much for that additional information. The easiest thing you can do (if you haven't already) to improve delivery is to update your SPF record. Essentially, this will authorize Emma to send on your behalf, making the receiving servers much more trusting of emails coming from you through us. You'll find instructions for setting Emma up as an authorized sender here. You might also find this page helpful!

If you've already taken those steps or you don't notice a significant difference after doing so, let me know! We may want to get you set you up with our Services Team for a content consultation! They will be able to review your mailings, delivery and open rates and suggest a plan for improving those based on your mailing content and sending strategy!
(Edited)
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AGC of Washington

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Emily, I'll take a look at that SPF thing -- first I've heard of it -- but does this mean you're not "delving a little deeper" into the issue on your end, as your first reply mentioned?
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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No, I'll certainly take a look at your account. :) The SPF record could be the key though, so I wanted to get that out there!
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AGC of Washington

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OK, thanks. One of our busiest weeks of the year this week here, but I'll look into that as soon as I can.
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Great! Another note on that, updating your SPF record will be helpful in getting past those receiving servers - this represents that category of your contacts that may be active but for some reason aren't receiving your mailings, aka, their server is catching and not releasing. 

Your 750+ error contacts are more likely in error due to bounces or bad email addresses. That's what I can and will dig into to see if there is a pattern. Right off the bat, I'm not seeing any major patterns, just "recipient not found" type bounces which are pretty common when sending to a large list. 

I'll see what else I can find!
(Edited)
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AGC of Washington

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Thank you!
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AGC of Washington

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Emily, I'm looking into the SPF record issue, but it seems to have to do, for the most part, with large-scale email services like Hotmail, Yahoo and etc. -- whereas, in our case of the many people who are mysteriously not getting the emails that they've signed up for, they're not using these Hotmail and other services -- they're getting email through their company's domain and servers, as in bob.smith@XYZCompany.com."  That is a little different issue than the Hotmail/Yahoo(Etc. server issue, isn't it? Or maybe I'm not looking at it correctly....
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AGC of Washington

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Also, Emily, in going through MyEmma's SPF-record instructions, the link in this very first paragraph of the instructions doesn't work!:

1. Update your SPF record and add Emma to it.

There are lots of SPF wizards out there, but we prefer Microsoft's. Enter your domain name, and click the Start button. If you send emails from news@bobschateau.com, your domain is bobschateau.com. If you don't have a domain, you don't have to worry about your SPF record for now.


Help???

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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Hey AGC -- Great timing. I literally just updated that resource after a colleague pointed out the broken link. You should be able to simply refresh your page to see the updated link and instructions, including a helpful screenshot!

Updating your SPF record should help with both scenarios described above! It's a good thing to rule out anyway, and can inform what we might do next. :)
(Edited)
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AGC of Washington

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Thanks! I'll take a look...
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AGC of Washington

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Emily, I completed Step #1 on the instruction page but see no way to save or complete or submit it. What do I do then?
Then, Step 2 says to change some text in my "original SPF record." Where's that? Nothing tells me where that is! This is frustrating. Directions should be absolutely clear. And I haven't even gone through the many remaining steps. Are they clear?
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Art Quanstrom

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Hi AGC,

I'm Art, Emma's Deliverability and Compliance Lead. It's a big part of my work here at Emma to make sure that everyone, whether an Emma staffer or customer, has the information and tools they need to, on a technical level, be prepared to send great marketing content. I'll be sure to take a second look at how we're presenting the topic of SPF, but let's focus on getting you squared away.

Step 1 of our documentation leads you to spfwizard.net, which is just a publicly available SPF record generator. You'll notice that the very first field (directly under "The DNS entry" changes as you fill out the form; that's because it is creating your new SPF record in real time. That record will end up looking something like this:

v=spf1 include:e2ma.net -all

As the form and our documentation indicate, you'll want to copy the line of text that appears and save it temporarily in a document or email.

Step two is all about creating a SenderID record. Now that you've copy + pasted the SPF record into a document ... just do that again! You'll end up with this in your document:

v=spf1 include:e2ma.net -all
v=spf1 include:e2ma.net -all

Which you'll change to this:

v=spf1 include:e2ma.net -all
spf2.0/pra include:e2ma.net -all

At this point, you have an SPF record and a SenderID record. Both of these new need to be added to your DNS in the TXT record. This is where it gets more difficult to give a one-size-fits-all solution. If you have a domain admin, you probably just need to email them your new records and ask them to edit your DNS accordingly; they'll know what to do. If you use a domain host like GoDaddy, you will need to log in to your account and use that host's DNS editing tool to add these records. They should have documentation and support to help you accomplish this.

Once you're at this point, as much as we'd love to see this through, you'll need to go through your provider or domain admin channels. Access to your DNS records is something you want to keep closely guarded, so no one at Emma can log in and do this for you. If anything else comes up related to our documentation or your Emma account, please let us know and we'll be happy to help.
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AGC of Washington

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Art, I gave our IT consultant the info about the DNS/SPF stuff and here's his reply from a few minutes ago: "I’ve now made the changes and mxtoolbox.com sees the changes depending on which Network Solutions DNS server responds first.  It will take one to two hours normally before the majority of DNS servers on the internet see the changes and up to 24 hours before everyone sees it."

So hopefully we've completed this step in resolving this problem. What's next?
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AGC of Washington

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Hoping to get a MyEmma response to my previous comment above, sometime soon! Thanks!
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Art Quanstrom

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Hi! I just checked your published DNS/TXT record and it looks like everything is in order. At this point, there's nothing else you need to do; your SPF record is properly set up and available to any servers looking for it. This should help alleviate the deliverability issues you were experiencing. SPF isn't just for big inbox providers; it's a widely used authentication method by all mail servers, even the ones behind private domains. Most of those private domains are hosted by larger companies looking to protect their customers' email experience (like Google Apps, GoDaddy, and other hosting providers). Authentication is an important, easy to implement step toward that goal.

Looking back on previous comments in this thread, it appears that the other half of your issue was with bounced email addresses. The bounce message Emily referenced is "recipient not found", which just means that the alias is no longer in the list of active mail boxes that server maintains. It's best to leave those addresses in "error" status.

I hope this covers everything!
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AGC of Washington

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Thanks very much, Art -- this has been very concerning to us, of course, since our member communications are critical to many of our events and activities. I'm guessing and hoping that we should see a significant increase in the quantity of emails that go through (correct?). I don't even want to ask what else might be needed to be done if this doesn't put a good dent in the issue -- don't even wanna go there! We have some audience-wide newsletters to send out next week so I'll let you know what kind of difference these latest steps have made... Thanks again,

- Sean
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AGC of Washington

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Art (or whomever!) -- we apparently have completed the SPF fix. So now I look at our overall audience numbers -- 2,315 active members and 785 "error" members -- and as I recall, the SPF fix was to help address this error problem (as I'm sure none of those "error" addresses are receiving our messages). So I compare that total number -- 3,100 -- to our last group-wide mailing results. In that case, 2,801 members received their email, and we had 53 bounces. I'm not sure what to make of this info, since 2,854 doesn't equal 3,100. Although it's kinda close! Can you comment on how we're doing, and if you think our audience is for the most part able to be reached with ur current system and settings? And did this SPF fix improve our performance at all?  Thank you.
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Hi AGC - Art is currently out of the office attending a conference, but he would love to talk through this with you over the phone. Please watch for an email from me (at the username address used here in the community) to get the best phone number for you. Thanks!
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Hi -- Just checking in to see if you received my email. If so, can you shoot me a reply to let me know the best way for Art to reach you by phone?
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AGC of Washington

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Haven't seen an email, Emily, other than the notification about this post -- and that one has a "no reply" return address. If you sent it today, it may be in the spam report I get every morning, which I'll see tomorrow. I guess I shouldn't post my phone number here -- don't you have it in our account information?
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Emily Hollingsworth, Alum

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Ok -- I sent the email last week to the address you log in with here. I'll forward it to the address we have on file for your account. Let me know if you don't see it in the next few minutes.
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AGC of Washington

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Got it! reply sent. Thanks...
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City of Vancouver, Washington

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AGC of Washington: We were wondering if this change improve your numbers or not? We're having the same problem where the vast majority of our emails aren't even opened, so we assume they're not being seen at all. We'd like to improve that number, as well. Thanks!
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City of Vancouver, Washington

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AGC of Washington: We were wondering if this change improve your numbers or not? We're having the same problem where the vast majority of our emails aren't even opened, so we assume they're not being seen at all. We'd like to improve that number, as well. Thanks!
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AGC of Washington

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I think it helped very little. This is a database that's somewhere around ten years old -- virtually all business addresses, and all opt-in addresses. With the 'transient' quality of business email addresses, and after talking further with MyEmma staff, this is a number that apparently isn't surprising. Your database may or not be similar -- opt-in or not, etc. -- so I don't know how similar our problems are -- and although it took a little time, MyEmma was helpful in addressing ours. Good luck!