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How Does Postlayer Work?

Postlayer is the spam filtering service that CourseVector makes available to clients at a small fee. It has historically be 99% effective.

First, we do not filter or block any email, other than viruses. Legally, it is questionable to block emails, spam or not, from an individual’s email box. Instead, the correct way to handle spam is to have it “flagged” and then filter it to a folder using your email client. That is exactly what Postlayer does. Following is how you can tell why an email has been “flagged.”

Postlayer will write a code in the subject of the email if it detects certain types of spam. You can then use your email client, based on that code, to filter the email to your junk mailbox.

[ConfirmedSpam] – This code indicates that the email is positively spam. It is safe to filter or delete messages with this code in the title.

[LikelySpam] – This code indicates that the email “could” be spam. It is highly likely that it is spam, however, we would suggest filtering these to your junk folder rather than deleting them.

[ConfirmedPhishing] – This code indicates that the email positively contains a phishing scam. It is safe to filter or delete messages with this code in the title.

[LikelyPhishing] – – This code indicates that the email is most likely a phishing scam. This code has a high degree of certainty, but we still suggest filtering the messages to your junk folder rather than deleting them.

[WordList] – This code indicates that we, at CourseVector, have utilized the training function of Postlayer and fine tuned or added some spam filters of our own. These are highly accurate, however, once again, we would suggest filtering them to your junk box rather than deleting them.

If you use Outlook for your email client, rules are used to filter mail to folders. Information on how to use outlook rules is available here. Almost all webmail and desktop clients have rule/filtering capabilities. If you need help, Google your email client and there should be information available. Or, you can always contact our support and we will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Email – Stop POP3D access blocks

If you have been blocked by the server for accessing the email server more than once a minute, here is how you fix that issue. Each email client is configured differently, but as long as the client is checking less then once a minute you will be OK. Below is where to adjust these settings for a few popular email clients Continue reading

Autoresponders Are Bad News

Use of an autoresponder will result in your domain being reported as spam or blocked. Autoresponders respond indiscriminately to forged and legitimate email. Spam and virus messages are almost invariably forged so as to appear to be “from” an unrelated third party. When an autoresponder receives one of these forged messages, they in turn send misdirected mail. Because of this, they become spam sources themselves and are the subject of blockades.

Traditional Autoresponder Issue:
A message is sent in response to inbound email informing the purported sender that you are on vacation, listing FAQs, suggesting an alternate email address, or otherwise sending a standard message – all too often, to the wrong person as the autoresponder will respond to phishing, hackers, spam, and any other type of attack. Not only will this get a domain blacklisted, but it discloses to the attacker that the email address is valid and allows for a much more targeted, hard to detect attack. In addition, if alternate email addresses are specified, that will open them to attack as well.

Please keep the above in mind when configuring an autoresponder as the potential damage far outweighs any benefit!

Gmail Email Domain Setup

Note: This service is no longer free from Google. You must have a Google business account and pay whatever current fees are for that account.

To add a domain to your organization’s Google account:

Sign in to the Google Admin console.

Click Add a domain.

Enter the name of the domain to add to your account.

Click Continue and verify domain ownership.

Choose the Meta Tag verification method and follow the instructions.

Download, install and follow the directions for the following plugin. If you are not sure of this step, obtain the Meta Tag information in the next step and open a support ticket and we will install and configure the plugin for you.
Google Site Verification Plugin

Click Verify and continue to setup email delivery.

Update the domain’s MX records to route mail to Google’s mail servers. If your domain name is registered with us, simply open a support ticket and we will update the DNS record for you. This step can take up to 72 hours to become visible on the internet.

Click I have completed these steps.

View the status of your domain verification on the Domains page in your Admin console. Immediately after you complete the steps above, the status should read “Updating.” When your ownership is verified, the status becomes “Active.” For domain aliases, it can take up to 24 hours after verification for all users to receive their alias email addresses.

SPAM Issues Resolved By Using Postlayer

Controlling spam is one of the most frustrating chores in today’s email world. Over the years, we have used and tested many ways to control spam and eventually settled on Postlayer. Postlayer is an online spam control solution that we have found to be 99% accurate. For just $3 per year per user, you cannot beat the price.

And, an added feature of the service is backup mail. If, for some reason, your mail server goes off line, Postlayer will queue the mail and deliver it when your server returns to service.

The best part is that anyone can manage this server. Out of the box, it is very accurate, but it can be fine tuned within a very easy to use control panel.

Two great, easy to use services for one very inexpensive price.

Find out more . . .

Spam – Avoid Having Emails Flagged As Spam

Check Your Message With An Online Service
You can use the SpamCheck service to determine the Spam rating of your message. Send your newsletter to spamcheck@sitesell.net with TEST as the first word in the subject line. In a few seconds you will receive a SpamCheck Report with suggestions regarding the newsletter content.

Avoid The Following

  • Phrases and wording spammers commonly use.
  • Using all upper-case words in the message subject.
  • Do not use (too) many images.
  • Properly balance your pictures size with the text size.
  • Avoid using HTML tags that could increase your spam score, e.g. iframe tags, multiple large font tags and/or color font tags (better use inline CSS styles instead).
  • Using scripts in your messages, like javascript, vbscript.
  • Correct any HTML coding errors in your messages, since these too will increase your spam score.
  • Only Send Acceptable Attachments
    Be careful with sending attachments other than .pdf, .gif, .jpg and .png files. Attachments like .zip, .avi, .swf, .exe, etc., may trigger spam filters or anti-virus checkers.

    Do Not Use Third Party Sending Services
    Sender Reputation: Your sender reputation is a number or score assigned to your sending IP or source. It’s believed that it’s also combined with domain name and several of the factors listed below, but the actual algorithm remains a secret. If you are using a third party email marketing platform such as Comm100, it’s important that you select a service that has a high sender reputation and that protects its sender reputation by ensuring that its clients don’t send spam emails.

    Make Sure Your Emails Are Of Interest
    Activity of Your Email List Subscribers: Another more recent development in spam filters is to apply a score based on the activity of your email list. If your emails regularly get incredibly small open rates or are deleted without being opened, then that indicates to email service providers that you are sending low quality email that is potentially unsolicited. While it won’t automatically get you blocked from the inbox, it will combine with other scores that may reflect unfavorably on you.

    Watch Your Subject Line
    Subject line will be a huge determinant to your email’s ability to get into the inbox. It’s the first thirty-five to fifty characters of an email subject line that users see. The reality is that you should not write an email subject line that is significantly longer than that because the longer your email subject line is, the more likely it would be flagged as spam.

  • Shorter is better! (But not less than five or six words)
  • Don’t rely on words that are viewed as spam.
  • Avoid using all caps or special characters in your email. They may end up resulting in having you flagged as spam.
  • Minimize The Use of Images
    Emails that are one large image have a high chance of being flagged as spam. Using a large image to encompass the entire email is a frequent trick of email spammers. If the entire content of your email is in an image file, then the email spam filters have nothing to spider in terms of content and can’t figure out if your message is junk or not. While images are an important part of any email template, the more images you use the more you may experience spam filter issues. If you are having a difficult time making it into the inbox, then one of the first steps you’ll want to explore is to reduce the number of images in your email template. Do not use templates with multiple images.

    Minimize the Use of Red Fonts and Huge Headline Size Fonts
    Red fonts and huge headline size fonts have also been shown to cause spam filter issues, though not as frequently as many of the other issues noted here. As a general rule, it’s just a better idea to avoid using red fonts (pick an off-red color), huge headline fonts of more than sixteen pixels or a combination of both. There are plenty of design options that still give you great flexibility without using those font sizes and colors.

    SPAM Control

    We get many inquiries about how to control spam. Unfortunately, there is really no 100% accurate way to control spam. There are two methods of spam control provided for free within cPanel.

    SpamAssassin is one of the most widely used mail server spam filters. SpamAssassin is available within cPanel, through a simple to use interface. Instructions for use can be found in the online cPanel Manual.

    Another free spam program offered within cPanel is called Box Trapper. Box Trapper is a Challenge Response email system with pros and cons. A Challenge response system is, for the most part, 100% effective against spam.

    Both of the above systems require a certain amount of technical knowhow, and some amount of upkeep/adjustments.

    On an individual basis, not server wide, we recommend two programs for controlling spam. Both solutions protect individual mailboxes. Since additional information is available on the provided websites, we have taken the liberty of posting our experience with both programs.

    The first is called Cloudmark. The program is easy to set up and with a little tweaking can be used to protect mobile devices as well. It integrates with Outlook, however, we would suggest not using the integration feature as we had continuous issues with compatibility. Basically, this is a set it and forget it solution and is about 90% accurate. It had very few false positives but the major drawback is the lack of support. We were unable to obtain any support, even for the paid version. We would, however, still recommend this solution for the average computer user.

    The second is called Choice Mail. This is a challenge response system, meaning that anyone sending an email to your address will get a “challenge” that they need to respond to, one time, in order for their email to reach your inbox. If they do not respond to the challenge, the email is not put through to your inbox. This program is a little more complicated to understand and install, however, it is 100% effective. On the plus side, it does configure itself and will work fine as installed without tweaking.

    Although we cannot actually support any of the above options, if you have additional questions about spam prevention services, please feel free to contact us.

    CAN SPAM Compliance

    Spamming Information

    The CAN SPAM Act is a law that can result in fines of up to $250 per email sent if the email being sent is not CAN SPAM compliant. Before sending any emails to more than one or two individuals, please review the information on this page. It is your responsibility as the sender to ensure CAN SPAM COMPLIANCE! If you have any questions or comments please ask your IT Administrator.

    Note that the CAN SPAM Act applies to all Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social networking environment that permits and/or distributes messages electronically.

    Innocent emails, sent in bulk, can cause a compliance issue. For example, an email that is used for informational purposes which would normally be compliant, like a newsletter or news bulletin, but has a signature or tag line like, (Join us for our 90th anniversary celebration. Check our website for details.), would cause the email to fall under the CAN SPAM Act and would be out of compliance as it would be a solicitation for money, services or a product in relation to the event or conference. Anyone sending emails with a signature line should take this into account before placing a “promotional” statement within the signature space of an email.

    Your mailings are CAN-SPAM compliant if:

  • The subject line is not misleading and is clear as to the body of the email. If there is a commercial advertisement or a solicitation to purchase any product or service anywhere in your email, you must be clear that the email is an advertisement in the subject line. If you have an in-house list of individuals who have opted-in, in other words provided you with their email address, you are exempt from the use of words such as “advertisement” or “solicitation” to label the message. However, if there is a single non-opt-in address, the subject line must contain the word advertisement or solicitation if you are selling a product or service.

  • The email headers, sending email address and other identifiers in the headers have not been tampered with in order to conceal your identity.

  • The body of the email contains a valid physical address for the sender. (This is done by putting your name, email address and title as part of your signature line.)

  • The email contains a functioning opt-out mechanism, and opt out requests are honored within 10 business days of receipt of that request. (This can simply be a statement, in the signature line, that the receiver can reply to the email with a request for removal.)

  • Nonprofits have additional rules that must be followed:
    Provide a valid physical postal address of the sender. (This can be done in the signature line.)

    Sample Compliant Signature Line If You Are Selling A Product Or Service:
    You have received this Email because EXAMPLE COMPANY would like to offer you our services. To avoid future contact from EXAMPLE COMPANY, please e-mail UNSUBSCRIBE@EXAMPLE-URL.com, or reply to this e-mail with the word ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ as the subject line of your message. Your request will be honored, we do not buy or sell email addresses. Our mailing address is EXAMPLE COMPANY, ADDRESS1, CITY ST 12345. Our Phone number is (888) 888-88888 (toll free). Thank You.

    Sample Compliant Signature Line For A Newsletter or Other Informational Only Document:

    You have received this e-mail because you opted in to the EXAMPLE COMPANY newsletter during an online purchase. To avoid future newsletters from EXAMPLE COMPANY, please email UNSUBSCRIBE@EXAMPLE-URL.com, or reply to this e-mail with the word ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ as the subject line of your message. Our mailing address is EXAMPLE COMPANY, ADDRESS1, CITY ST 12345. Our Phone number is (888) 888-88888. All other e-mail inquiries should be directed to info@EXAMPLE-URL.com. Thank You.

    Can Spam Act Compliance Guide

    Email – Why Use SMTP Port 587

    E-mail Can Be Received But Not Sent

    First and foremost, please note that we are NOT your ISP. We simply host your web site and sometimes e-mail. Your ISP would be someone like Verizon, Comcast, Earthlink, etc.

    Second, if you can obtain your e-mail through the web mail interface, then the server and e-mail system are working fine.

    Many ISPs are blocking what is called “Port 25” which is the port used to send e-mail. They are doing this to cut down on the amount of spam that is sent from their networks.
    Port 25 blocking allows ISPs to block spam sent out through their networks, but it tends to punish people using their own domain for e-mail, as e-mail addressed in that manner can no longer be sent through your ISP.

    This only affects outgoing e-mail! If you can receive e-mail but not send it, then there is a 99.9% chance this is your issue. If you can send and receive e-mail through web mail, then there is a 100% chance this is your issue. If your technician has told you that the problem is with your web host, but you can use web mail normally, we would suggest outsourcing this issue to a different technician or company.
    Please note that almost all ISPs are now blocking port 25, and those that do not will be doing so in the near future. Here is a recent news release from Comcast, one of the largest ISP’s in the country:

    Comcast, the nation’s largest broadband Internet service, this week began selectively blocking a network loophole commonly exploited by spammers.
    The cable giant, whose broadband Internet service has more than 5.7 million subscribers, said it will block what’s known as “port 25” for accounts suspected of sending mass amounts of unsolicited e-mail. The company will implement blocks based on subscriber accounts with the most outbound activity.

    To bypass the port 25 blocking you have these options:

    Use a different ISP. You can use a different ISP to connetc to the Internet. Smaller local ISPs usually do not block Port 25.

    Try using port 587 as your SMTP server.

    Use your ISP’s outgoing mail server. Contact your ISP and ask them for the correct settings for the mail servers.

    Unfortunately, we, as your web host, cannot support or correct issues concerning your ISP. If web mail is working, but your e-mail client is not, you will need to contract with a qualified technician or contact your ISP for additional help.

    Outlook – Correcting PST Errors

    This document will provide detailed instructions on things you can try if you are having problems with your Outlook mail. The problems discussed in this document have to do with opening mail, Outlook closing down when you are reading mail, corrupt mail, etc. It does not have any information about sending and receiving mail.

    Correcting Errors In Outlook PST Files

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