Domain inquiries and email deliverability problems

Do you ever wonder why some of your potential buyers go MIA after you reply to a domain name inquiry?

I did and I realized that I had an email deliverability problem. But how did I realize?

I wrote the other day that I hadn’t replied to domain inquiries for 3 weeks. So I started replying. I sent out 39 emails in one day. When I only got 3 replies in the next few days I knew something was wrong. Sure some potential buyers will ignore your emails or think that your price was too high and won’t reply. But 3 replies out of 39 emails is very low.

So I went to mail-tester.com and sent out an email to the email address provided in the webpage from the email address I was having problems with. Mail-tester is using SpamAssassin and various other indicators to calculate email score.

I then checked my score. It wasn’t good. I got 4.8 out of 10: “Consider yourself lucky if your email gets to an inbox.”.

I guess I was not that lucky as most of my 39 potential buyers were quite. Black crows were circling me…

(This is not exactly the score I got. I got 4.8.)

So I checked my results and I tried to fix them. I had 2 problems. It wasn’t that hard for me to fix as I am managing my own dedicated server.

The first problem was that I had duplicate SPF entries in my DNS settings. I also used mxtoolbox.com to find exactly what the problem was. I removed the duplicate record and my score went up. Not sure how the duplicate record appeared in my DNS settings.

The second problem is that I had stupidly not activated DKIM for outgoing emails. I got this message in the deliverability results:

“Your message is not signed with DKIM
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a method for associating a domain name to an email message, thereby allowing a person, role, or organization to claim some responsibility for the message.”

I activated DKIM on my server and then on the domain name in question. My test score went to a solid 10 out of 10.

I think that one of the problems is the domain name inquiries that are coming from 3rd party services and/or contact forms. That is when you are replying to an email (coming from the contact form or a 3rd party informing you for the inquiry) using the buyer’s email address but the buyer didn’t actually send you an email. The buyer entered his/her details in a contact form. If you don’t have a perfect score then your email can easily be marked as spam when your unknown email address hits the buyer’s mailbox.

But is it not that simple… I got no reply from inquiries that came directly from the buyer’s email address after finding my details on whois. Server-side spam filters are using many tools such as SPF, DKIM and DMARC.

I would really like to hear from people on what their scores are and if they are consistently getting replies from new domain name buyers.

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He loves domains and building websites. He is online since 1995, learned about html in 1996 and got into domains in 2002. He started the OnlineDomain.com blog in 2012.

14 comments

  1. this is a badly needed area for more illumination, thanks for sharing the real world

    ive used a mishmash of these sericcies, do i understand them , not really.

    but im diving in again.

    good post and thank you.

  2. This is a very timely article. I have had the exact same problems, even though I never do outbound sales or anything that could resemble spam.

    Now my score is 8.2 for my main email address, so not too bad I guess.

    At one point people didn’t receive my emails at all. It turned out the problem was that the domain had been using DNSSEC at GoDaddy, but I later transferred the domain to another registrar. Apparently, that screwed up everything, and it took me ages before I found out and requested GoDaddy to receive the DNSSEC records. So that is also a potential issue.

  3. One more thing you could do is to check if the IP address you’re sending from is not on some blacklist. It could be your ISP.
    Sometimes it’s large ranges of IP addresses that are blacklisted, affecting legitimate entities that have done nothing wrong.
    Blacklist maintainers don’t always go for the granular approach.

    Then you might have a dynamic IP address, it could change more or less often.
    This could affect deliverability, depending on the source IP address of the moment.

  4. Very timely tip. Thanks Konstantinos. Checked my email address only to see a score of 4.2/10! Followed the spam test result and copied the recommended SPF record and my score immediately jumped to 8.2/10. SpamAssassin reports a number of issues but I have yet to understand them, the most serious one being the following:

    ==========
    -1.985 PYZOR_CHECK Similar message reported on Pyzor (http://pyzor.org)
    https://pyzor.readthedocs.io/en/latest/
    Please test a real content, test Newsletters will always be flagged by Pyzor
    Adjust your message or request whitelisting (http://public.pyzor.org/whitelist/)
    ==========

    Once again, thank you so much for this great article.

    • Konstantinos Zournas

      You need to test an email message with a unique subject and a unique (substantial) message. E.g. don’t write “test” and leave the message empty.

  5. Great info, KZ, as per usual. Thanks.

    Question:
    Does anyone know how to get rid of (and stay rid of!) that infernal blacklister ‘Sorbs’?
    They are uncontactable and seem to be unmovable.
    They seem to be a law unto themselves.

    Any suggestions?

    • Konstantinos Zournas

      Actually last year I managed to get rid of the Sorbs blacklist. You just need to create an account with them and follow the steps.

      I am now having a problem with backscatterer.org. They ask for money or you have to wait a month before they remove the blacklist. #extortion

      • Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, my experience with Sorbs over a long period has been quite different.

        I had signed up with Sorbs.net (who have done the blacklisting) but I keep going around in circles with them ie I cannot get through to their Support as I can’t get through to raise a ticket with them – it does not allow me to continue, as error messages come up that say:

        – xxx.xx.xx.xx [masked] is not listed in the SORBS DNSbl.

        – An Error Occurred Processing Your Request
        Bad Network (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.com) [masked]

        ie it says I am not in their ‘system’ but yet they have blacklisted me … and I cannot get through to them as they make it clear that requests will be ignored unless the proper ticket is raised (and I can’t raise the proper ticket as they don’t recognize my domain yet they blacklist it). Go figure.

        Internet research tells me lots of other people seem to have the same problem.

        I work very hard to ensure I have no blacklisting but SORBS seems to have beaten me as they are the only one to keep blacklisting me (for no apparent reason).

        Suggestions are welcomed.

      • Konstantinos Zournas

        I can’t help you unless I know specifics: domain name, IP, shared or dedicated server, etc.

  6. Thanks for your kind offer to help, KZ.
    Next time that SORBS blacklists me I’ll contact you direct and provide the info you mentioned.
    [ Also – thanks for a great site. ]

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