A recent test by InformationWeek columnist Fred Langa shows that up to 40% of valid E-mails never reach the recipient. Here's what it all means to you.
You're losing E-mails. It's almost certain that some significant percentage of your legitimate outbound E-mails aren't getting to their destinations; or that some significant percentage of your legitimate inbound E-mails are being lost before you ever see them.
When I say "significant," I don't mean a few. I mean something like 40%, or even more in some cases. And I'm not talking about losing junk mail. I'm talking about the loss of totally valid, non-spam/non-junk E-mail.
Think about that for a minute: As many as four out of 10 of your serious E-mails--the sort you might exchange with co-workers, friends, business associates, or customers--may not be making it to their intended destinations.
This alarming statistic is derived from a large test I conducted late last year, involving more than 10,000 participants. I announced the test with a call for volunteers in an issue of my E-mail newsletter last October. It said, in part:
...I'd like to gather a group of volunteers... and send each one a simple non-spam E-mail message, in plain text and with no attachments, from a personal mail account (not a bulk mailer). I'd like to see how many of these simple messages actually make it through the gauntlet of servers, routers, and ISP-based and local mail filters.
I won't tell the volunteers in advance what address the mail will come from or what the subject line will be.... Rather, I propose to simulate a normal, unanticipated, plain text, non-spam E-mail, as if between friends or coworkers, and see what gets through....
I included specific sign-up information, and asked interested readers to indicate their willingness to participate by sending a reply E-mail to a designated mailbox.
I'd hoped for maybe 500 volunteers. But less than a day after my request went out, I was astonished to see that more than 10,000 people had signed up. Clearly, E-mail reliability is a real hot button!
To keep the size of the test manageable, I then stopped accepting additional applications to participate, ending up with 10,979 volunteers on tap.
It's important to note that these test participants were eager, motivated, and E-mail savvy: They had learned of the test via E-mail, and had signed up by E-mail within hours of the call for volunteers going out. Thus, if anything, this body of E-mail-enthusiastic volunteers represents a best case for E-mail success, a fact that puts the dismal test results in an even starker light.
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. We've got a management crisis right now, and we've also got an engagement crisis. Could the two be linked? Tune in for the next installment of IT Life Radio, Wednesday May 20th at 3PM ET to find out.