Elbel Consulting Services, LLC
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How does my website email work?

Do I get an email account with my website? Can my email be forwarded to another address? What about spam? ECS will answer these questions and will work with you to configure your email environment when your website is set up. Email handling and website contact form processing is just as important as your website itself because that is how people will contact you for more information.

How does my website email work?

When you set up an email account with your website, the information is made available across the internet via mail exchange (MX) records that are associated with the Domain Name System (DNS). This allows other computers connected to the internet to be able to look up your website domain name and thus send email to you at your website.

Your website is hosted on a website server, and this is where mail records and DNS records point to. An email program on your server receives incoming email and stores it until you read it.

Your email account is usually configured as a Post Office Protocol (POP) account or as an Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) account. You have two methods of accessing these email accounts on your website:

  • From your computer with an email client program like Eudora, Thunderbird, or Outlook. The email client will connect to your website and download new email for you to read. The client will also upload any new email to send and send it through the website server email system.
  • From a web-based mail interface, such as Squirrelmail. Here, you use your browser to connect to your website and to send and receive email. With this method, you can send and receive email from a web browser anywhere. You typically can use either, or both, of these methods to access your email.

You can also establish email aliases, or email forwarders. These let people send email to an email address at your website, with the email then being forwarded to a different email address. For example, if your commonly-used email address is bob@somewhere.com, and your website is www.mywebsite.com, you could set up an email alias so that email sent to bob@mywebsite.com would forward to bob@somewhere.com. In fact, the alias could be configured to forward to multiple recipients - a useful feature.

Email addresses usually model common formats, such as firstname@mywebsite.com, firstnameLastname@mywebsite.com, firstname-lastname@mywebsite.com, firstname_lastname@mywebsite.com, and firstname.lastname@mywebsite.com.

Email spam

Spam is unsolicited email that you did not ask for. Spam is categorized as unsolicited commercial email (UCE) and non-commercial unsolicited bulk email (UBE). Billions of spam emails are sent every day.

A problem with using common email addresses like bob@mywebsite.com is that spammers will guess at it using a "dictionary attack", where they try various combinations of words, letters and numbers until one works. You could obfuscate your email address, as with b0b12.4c@mywebsite.com, but eventually spammers will guess at that email address, too.

Most hosting companies install spam detection and blocking software on their servers - Spam Assassin is one popular tool. The battle between spammers and email service providers is constantly-escalating. Although the spam problem will likely not go away, and the volume of spam is growing, the number of spam emails that actually get through to email recipients is being kept under control. In other words, spam countermeasure techniques are indeed effective.

ISP email accounts and email portals

An Internet Service Provider (ISP) will typically offer an email account for you to use. Such an email account can serve as your unchanging email address. Local ISPs often will adjust their spam filters per your requests, but that is generally not the case with large ISPs such as Comcast.

Another method of implementing an email account is to use an email portal account, such as one with AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, or with an email service provider such as mail.com and hotmail. This usually means that your email is hosted at a different location (and with a different domain name) than your website.

An advantage of these arrangements is that you have a designated email address that is independent from your website - in fact, a website is not required at all. In these cases, you can forward email from your website to your actual email address.

Email campaign management

If you have a membership list, constituent list, or sales list of email address that you want to send email to, you can send email to them from your own email account. However, this is a tedious process and often does not work very well. A better solution is to use an email campaign management system such as the state-of-the-art ECS Directional MailTM system.

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