Jan 4, 2006

Sending Test Emails to Yourself and Getting Spam Filtered?

We’re starting to see more and more spam filters (particularly in corporate environments) block test emails, where the message reply-to: and the recipient address is the same. In other words, they’re blocking emails that try to look like you’re sending yourself a message.

If you’re sending yourself a test message from MailChimp, and they’re not coming through, read on to find out what you can do about it…

First, find out why your email’s not getting there…

  • Log in to MailChimp to see if the message bounced.
  • If it bounced, read the full message headers for an smtp reply (here’s how in MailChimp).
  • Look for an error code, to find out why it bounced. It could just be that the account was over quota, or busy. But if you see something like, "571: Message Refused," that usually means that the corporate spam filter outright blocked your message, because it seemed too "spammy."
  • If you didn’t receive the test email, and you don’t have any bouncebacks, the message is still on its way towards you in cyberspace. Give it a little more time and check back again.

What to do if your tests are being blocked

If you’ve determined that the message bounced, and the SMTP reply in the header says that the message was refused, then your corporate or ISP spam firewall is definitely blocking your email.

  • The first thing to check is whether or not your "reply-to" is the same email address that’s in the "recipients" list. If so, you can temporarily change the "reply-to" to another email account (like your home account or something). Just remember to change it back before you send the real campaign. Or, remove your email address from the recipients list, and use another email address that you can check.
  • If that didn’t work, check your content. Is it too spammy? Check the subject line, message body, HTML coding, etc. Look for stuff like spammy words ("BUY NOW!!!!") or excessive use of exclamation points. Look for sentences that were colored bright red. Here’s an article that might help you determine if your message is too spammy, and here’s an article that lists some of the more obscure items that spam filters check for.
  • If you’ve changed the "reply-to" and you’ve removed all "spammy" content, and your email is still not getting through, it could just be that your corporate spam firewall is really, really strict. You can ask your IT guys (very nicely) to "whitelist" MailChimp. They may need IP addresses from you in order to do this. If so, contact us via email or chat, and we’ll give you all the details you need for whitelisting.