Whitelist your domain so you don’t miss important emails
Modern email providers use very aggressive spam filters to protect your inbox from unwanted, and sometimes dangerous emails. For most people, these filters are a godsend. For some of us, particularly small business owners like home inspectors, these filters can be a double-edged sword. What can you do to ensure that important emails from your website aren’t getting caught in the crossfire?
Regardless of any steps you take to avoid the problem, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of frequently checking your spam or junk folder. If you don’t, and there are important emails that don’t get through to your inbox, then you could be losing business without ever even knowing it.
Most email providers offer a way to whitelist an email address, or even a domain name. By adding either the email address that your website uses to send emails, or the domain name used in the email address, you can make sure that emails originating from your website always make it to your inbox.
To help you with this process, I’ve gathered instructions for some popular email providers. Where possible I’ve also included a video for those who prefer a visual aid. Feel free to skip ahead to your email provider using the links below, and let me know if yours isn’t listed.
- Yahoo! Mail and AT&T
- Outlook Online / Hotmail / Windows Live
- Microsoft Outlook desktop application
Email providers we’ll cover
These instructions are for the Gmail web application (https://mail.google.com) on a desktop or laptop computer. Other email applications, or accessing your email from a phone or tablet may be different.
- From Gmail, click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner and click on “settings.”
- Click on the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab across the top.
- Click on the “Create a new filter” link.
- For the from tab, enter your domain name.
- Click on the link that says “Create filter with this search.”
- Check the box for “Never send to spam.”
- Click on the “Create filter” button.
The video below from DIY Tips and Tricks does an excellent job of showing you exactly what you need to do.
Yahoo! Mail & AT&T
These instructions are for the Yahoo! Mail web application (https://mail.yahoo.com), on a desktop or laptop computer, using the new interface. Other email applications, or accessing your email from a phone or tablet may be different.
AT&T no longer maintains their own email service. Instead, you would use https://att.yahoo.com and follow these instructions as normal.
- Navigate to the spam folder in the left-hand menu.
- Check the box next to the message in question.
- Click the Not Spam button near the top-middle of the window (below the search box).
Method #2 (recommended)
- Click on the settings link in the upper right area of the window (hint: it has a gear icon next to it)
- A popup menu should have appeared. At the bottom of that menu, click on More Settings (hint: it has three dots (···) in front of it)
- Click on Filters in the left-hand menu
- Click on Add new filters (hint: It is located underneath Your Filters and has a + in front of it)
- Give the filter a name in the Filter Name field. You can name the filter anything you want.
- Open up the From section, if it isn’t open already.
- For Select a filter criterion, select contains.
- For the filter value, type in or copy and paste your website domain name (without http:// or www, just the domain.com part)
- Under Choose a folder to move to, select Inbox.
- Click on the Save button.
In my experience, AOL has been the greatest offender when it comes to sending legitimate emails to the spam folder.
- Click on the Contacts link in the left-hand menu.
- Click on the New Contact link located in the bar above your contacts. This is an icon with a person and a plus symbol (+).
- The only information you have to enter is the first name and the email address. For the first name, you can use the name of your company. For the email, enter the From address from the original email. This should be firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Click on the save button.
Outlook Online / Hotmail / Windows Live
These instructions are for the Outlook web application, accessed via a laptop or desktop computer. Using Outlook on a phone or tablet may require different instructions.
- Open the settings menu by clicking on the gear icon in the upper-right side of the window.
- From the settings menu, click on View All Outlook Settings at the bottom.
- A new popup window should have appeared, defaulting to the Mail section. From within this window, click on the Junk email link in the list of items.
- Under the section titled Safe senders and domains, click the Add button (hint: it has a plus sign (+) in front of it).
- In the text field that appears, simply type in or copy and paste your domain name, followed by pressing the Enter key.
- Click on the Save button near the top of the popup window.
Microsoft Outlook desktop application
- Locate the email in your Junk Email folder.
- Right click on the email, and there should be a Junk item in that menu.
- Within the junk menu, click on Never Block Sender’s Domain
- The email in your junk folder is likely still there. If you need to move that specific email to your inbox, or a different folder, you can just click and drag the message into any folder in the left-hand panel.
By following the steps above for your email provider, you can be sure that you always get the message when someone emails you from your website. If you need any help, just let me know by leaving a comment or sending me a message.
Regardless of the steps you take to prevent it, I recommend frequently checking your spam or junk folder. It’s also a good idea to test the website forms on your own from time to time. Otherwise, if a problem does crop up it could go unnoticed for months.
A word of caution
Be careful when checking messages in your spam folder. Most of what you’ll find is in there for a reason. Just look for important messages and ignore everything else. Don’t click on any links or download any attachments and if it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is.
To protect yourself from phishing scams, ignore anything in your spam folder that appears to be from a bank, credit company, PayPal, etc. These companies will never directly ask for your password, so don’t give it out. If you do follow a link from an email that prompts you to log in, always check the URL in your web browser to confirm that you’re on the real website.