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Businesses spend time and energy on creating content and emails to send to subscribers to inform them of products and services that might be useful to them. This can be a valuable way to connect with customers, when done right. But how many of those emails sent are going to spam folders? If a business is worried about this, it would be a good idea to encourage clients to add your business to their personal email whitelist.

What is the difference between email certification and email whitelisting?

When talking about third-party whitelisting, the difference between email accreditation and certification, and email whitelisting, is that whitelisting says to ISPs and spam filters only “you should accept this email because we say so”. Our email accreditation system not only tells the ISPs and spam filters that they should accept and deliver your email, but why they should accept and deliver it. Our system provides real-time data about your email practices to each and every ISP and spam filter every single time they look for you in our databases (we were, by the way, the first to develop and pioneer this system, which has since been copied by other services). A personal email whitelist is a whitelist maintained by individuals in their email program, which says “I always want to receive email from these senders, never send them to spam.”

But what is an email whitelist?

First let us take a look at the opposite. What is a blacklist? A blacklist is a list of names, phone numbers, or IP addresses that will not be allowed through. A whitelist is the opposite of a blacklist. A whitelist is the allowed names, phone numbers, or email addresses. Being on a personal email whitelist (or safe list) will help to ensure that an email reaches a user’s inbox rather than their spam folder.

How do email clients impact what gets sent to spam?

The email whitelist and blacklist parameters may be set by the email users; however, mail clients or service providers also set up parameters for email whitelists and blacklists. These parameters or filters are not perfect, which is why we all end up with emails from our long lost cousin in another country looking for us to take care of their massive fortunes. The filters are updated on a continual basis to block out potential spam.

Not every email that is sent to a user has an email address on that user’s whitelist or blacklist. Email clients do the best they can to filter messages appropriately, unless the user has set up an exclusive whitelist. With an exclusive whitelist the only emails that will reach the user’s inbox are emails sent from those on the user’s whitelist.

How does the email user control their email whitelist?

A user may look through their spam folder and find an email that should have been sent to their inbox. Most mail clients give the email user an opportunity to click a button or check a box indicating that the email was not spam. This effectively adds the email to the email whitelist, although for some systems it may take email from that sender being “rescued” a few times.

Users can also set a filter to send emails from a specific sender directly to spam. They can either do this in their email settings, or by clicking a button indicating that the message is spam, although they may need to click “this is spam” on several pieces of email from the sender before it will go permanently to the spam folder.

What can you do to make sure your message goes to a user’s inbox?

Ideally email that companies send to customers will go to the customer’s inbox rather than their spam filter. Because spam filters are not perfect, it is a good idea to give subscribers instructions on how to add an email sender to their personal whitelist. This set of whitelist instructions for most inbox providers and email programs is a convenient resource for educating clients; feel free to link to it!

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