Why Does Email Get Delayed?

email marketingEmail marketing is a powerful tool for businesses around the world. In fact, email is one of the most handy tools available to both individuals and businesses alike. It provides nearly instantaneous communication with friends, family, colleagues, and businesses all over the world.

For the most part, when you send an email, the recipient has it within a few seconds, but sometimes, that email that you really really need doesn’t show up when you expect it, and you don’t know why. To understand why emails get delayed, you have to undestand how an email is sent from one person to another.

When an email is sent, it doesn’t just go from your computer, to the recipients computer, it follows a path along the Internet, and along the way has several stops.

  1. An email is created on your computer using a email authoring tool like Outlook or by using a webmail service like Gmail.
  2. Once you click send,the message is sent to your mail server.
  3. Your mail server then looks at the email, determines where it needs to send it according to DNS records the recipient company has set up.
  4. Your mail server then sends the message to the place listed,
  5. Many times, the server listed isn’t actually the recipients mail server, it is an intermediary server set up as a spam filter or an archive server.
  6. The receiving server then forwards the message off to the real mail server
  7. The recipient then connects to their mail server and grabs the message.

(In the case where you are setting up emails to go out through your TrafficWave account, your email gets sent from our servers and the process picks up at step 2 above.)

Seems simple enough, right? Not exactly. The Internet really is a series of computers, connected via wires, fiber optics, and other computers. An email must travel long distances, and a break down at any step, or between any step can cause a delay.

Some of the most common causes for delays and failed delivery that I see are the following:

  1. User Error: It is very common for someone to mistype an email address. If you are missing an email, get in touch with the sender, and have them read you the email address they are sending to (don’t ask “did you send it to youremailaddress as they will just assume they did). If they are your subscriber in your TrafficWave campaigns, the email address has already been confirmed but can be delayed by any number of other possibilities.
  2. Spam Filters / Grey Lists / Black Lists: Spam filters are meant to block spam, but sometimes they are wrong and block a legitimate email, which means the recipient doesn’t get it, check your junk mail folder, or ask your admin to check the spam filter if you are missing something.  Double check your email messages for possible spam triggers as indicated in the following:Most Common Spam Triggers Killing Your Deliverability
    How Content Affects Deliverability
    Tips To Improve Email Marketing Deliverability
  3. Internet Connectivity Problems: Sometimes things break, and broken things causes delays. A bad connection between your computer and mail server, your mail server and a DNS server, your mail server, and the recipients mail server(s), or the recipients mail server and the recipients computer can all cause delays in email delivery. Because of this, email servers have various rules they have configured to retry message delivery several times before you ever get an error that says the message could not be delivered. This can lead to delays.

The bad part about most of these delays is that there is little you, or your IT department can do about it. People make mistakes, computers make mistakes, and things break. The good part is, this article gives you a little more insight in to some of the things that can cause email delays.

4 thoughts on “Why Does Email Get Delayed?

  1. Hello Brian.. Nice article…

    Most email services are of good quality today VS back 15 years ago. Back then spam was rampant and email was fairly new to many households. When they first came out with filters, the filters would block most all emails. And some of those filters, if you wanted to see them. You had to physically login and look what emails had been filtered. Those were the day huh..

    Today email and email marketing has come a long way. One thing I noticed is, if you have emails go back and forth from one user to another. Most email programs today see that as mail you want delivered. So they send it thru as if you were best friends.

    I personally try to get some sort of response for the emails I send out. Then I personally respond with a thank you or just let them know I am a real person.. Seems to work fairly good for me.

    Informative article
    Richard Faller

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