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| There Are Better Alternatives

Over the last few years we’ve seen a growing trend for clients wanting to use email forwarding. This allows the use of a branded email address matching a website’s domain, whilst receiving email in to a generic (aol, gmx, t-online, etc) personal account.

Lets say your name is Markus, and your website uses the domain https://yourdomain.de. You setup an email forwarder for markus@yourdomain.de to forward to magicmarkus1986@t-online.de, and all your email arrives very conveniently at t-online for you to read, and process in the normal way. Sounds good?

It’s certainly an improvement over using a generic address for your business email – but it’s actually a really bad idea. Read on for our 6 Reasons Why Email Forwarding Is A Bad Idea.

 

1) Its unprofessional

It’s fair to assume that the contact email address for a business uses the same domain as the website, rather than something generic. Not only do generic email addresses look bad, they don’t help your customers find your website, and website visitors don’t instantly know your email address.

What’s easier to remember -or guess- markus@yourdomain.de or magicmarkus1986@t-online.de? And, what happens after customers send that first email message to you about a big money deal?

Well, with forwarding, emails sent to markus@yourdomain.de reach your host server and then get redirected to the forwarding account. You open up your t-online account and amongst your personal email you see that customer enquiry worth €1,000’s. Excited at the prospect, you hit reply type up an amazing proposal and send it on it’s way. Then wait, and wait and wait, but no reply comes.

What happened? Well, your email probably landed in their spam folder, or maybe they deleted it because they didn’t remember sending any email to magicmarkus1986@t-online.de! Heck, they might have even just read your message but didn’t feel confident doing a big money deal with a company that uses a cheap email service.

Unprofessional? Yes! From the minute an email gets forwarded from markus@yourdomain.de to your generic magicmarkus1986@t-online.de, the rest of the conversation will take place to and from your magicmarkus1986@t-online.de account.

 

2) Missing messages

Can you afford to lose important emails? Imagine a customer sends you an email making an enquiry about your services and rates for a long term deal. This could really take your business to the next level, you could give yourself and all your staff a pay-rise, you could take more time off and go on expensive holidays with your family.

Except, you never get the email… Sure, the customer sent the email and it reached your web/email host, then it got forwarded to your t-online account. But, you never actually get to read it. There are lots of reasons why this can happen. The way email works, is complicated and sometimes emails just get lost, don’t reach their target or end up in your junk folder. Forwarding emails just adds another step to the process that your messages have to overcome to reach your inbox.

 

3) Aggressive blocking

Mass market email hosts such as aol, 1 & 1, hotmail, gmx, t-online.de and many more, host potentially hundreds of millions of email accounts. That means they get hit with a lot of spam, every single second of every day. Statistics indicate that 48.16% of all email sent is classifiable as spam! That’s a lot of spam, so imagine how much spam passes in and out of the average mass market email provider.

We did some maths, and it turns out that the answer is: A LOT!

It’s no suprise then that cheap hosts need to block much of that spam from getting in & out of their networks. They make use of some fairly heavy-handed network policies just to get that down to a manageable figure and ensure their networks can cater for their customers email demands. This means everything about the forwarded email has to conform to the very highest standards inorder for the email to be accepted.

The email server that forwards the email to your generic email address also has to be setup almost perfectly and have a good reputation and not be on any blacklists. It also has to be setup to forward email properly otherwise the receiving server will still reject it.

 

4) You are the spammer

When email is forwarded from your forwading address to your magicmarkus1986@t-online.de, it counts as email sent by markus@yourdomain.de rather than the true sender of the email. So, when a spammer gets your email adress off your website and sends you SPAM after SPAM messages, it’ll be markus@yourdomain.de that get’s marked up as a spammer!

There are methods to identify a server as simply forwarding an email on. Sender Rewriting Scheme for example is designed to identify servers that are simply forwarding email, but not all email servers recognise this. Even, when your personal account does recognise SRS, the forwarding server is still identified as passing on the message.

This means that the forwarding email server is left with a choice between forwarding all messages or refusing to forward email that looks like SPAM. The former risks being marked as a spammer whilst the latter risks angry calls from clients wanting to know why some emails aren’t reaching their inbox.

 

5) Rate limiting

Some ISPs also have spam filters in place which are based on the volume of incoming email. If you suddenly get a lot of spam email, or – more likely – a lot of “bounced emails” caused by someone faking your markus@yourdomain.de address, then there’s the potential for a serious volume of email to all be forwarded onto your chosen destination. That all get’s marked up as a big negative against your email server.

 

6) Bad Neighbour

Email forwarding  can get you on blacklists, stop your emails being delivered, and prevent you from sending email to other people. All of which can have a huge impact upon your business and ruin your reputation with potential clients.

But, it get’s worse. It’s not just about you and your email forwarding account. In fact, not only do all email accounts on your domain get taken into account, but the whole server!

Let’s go back to Rate Limiting discussed above. Imagine you forward 50 messages a day, one of your colleagues sends another 35 to their own t-online.de account. Meanwhile you send out your company newsletter with numerous t-online recipients. All of a suddent t-online is looking at your domain suspicously, and without warning they limit the number of emails they will accept from you. The rest either get sent back ‘bounced’ or just get binned and lost forever.

Do this too often, and you’ll be reported to blacklists. These are picked up by other email servers to protect against spammers and now they start blocking your emails to. In no time at all you’ll find that emails you send aren’t being received by your clients and emails from your clients aren’t reaching you.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, blacklists, SPAM filters and ISP rules will have also noted which server was sending these emails. Every email sent carries information about the servers and accounts that it’s passed through, including the forwarding server. ISP’s don’t appreciate servers that forward ‘bad’ emails, and so they’ll happily add this to their list of ones to block.

And, this is how you end up not only blocking your own accounts but those of every domain hosted by your email server.

 

BONUS: The Solution

Most email providers allow you to conveniently access your email via a web browser, you may know this as ‘webmail’. Accessing your email has never been easier, especially since all decent webmail hosts allow you to add external accounts.

Likewise, all modern email clients allow you to send and receive email from multiple accounts. Whether you use, Outlook, Thunderbird or one of the many alternatives, you can view all your email in 1 place. And, when you reply to a message is send that message from the account that received it. Convenient, professional and it’s not going to raise any alarms.

 

Conclusion

There really is no need to use email forwarding anymore. You can acheive the same results with by imply adding additional accounts to your current webmail / email client, but without any of the additional risks highlighted above.

Many web hosts are now banning email forwarding, removing the capability all together.  The result for these hosts is a serious decrease in spam complaints against their servers.  We’re currently planning on removing email forwarding and helping existing users to migrate away from the idea. The potential for negative outcomes is just too high, if we are to ensure our email deliery rates remain amongst the highest.

Do you use email forwarding or were you considering it? How do you use email forwarding? Do you already manage 1 or more accounts via webmail or an email client app? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.