* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Customer not getting my emails - what to do?

This problem is probably not unique to me.

Upon purchase, my website automatically sends a registration email to the customer. Sometimes, about 5% of the cases, they don't receive it for some reason.
If they don't download the registered copy after 30 minutes, I'll send them emails manually from 2 other mail addresses.
This usually helps.

At the moment I have a customer who purchased 6 days ago (!) and still hasn't found or received my emails. He just wrote me an email yesterday (from a different email address than he used for registering) that his registration is missing.

I have sent a total of 4 emails to both his addresses and still nothing. I'm out of ideas, really.

How do you solve situations like that? How do you reach the unreachable customer?
How could I transform my delivery to avoid incidents like that in the future? (Emails should not be essential part of delivery - but how?)

Zka Send private email
Sunday, December 22, 2013
First phone them.

Then write a letter.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Sunday, December 22, 2013
My ecommerce provider has an option to generate the license key and display it on the receipt page, a few seconds after they complete the sales transaction, i.e., in real time. They can copy and paste it from there. They also are sent the license via email. Maybe your ecommerce providers offer this solution.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Sunday, December 22, 2013
He did not supply a phone number.
Sending a postal mail isn't a bad idea, though I live in eastern EU, he's in the US, therefore this solution would take a LOT of time.

I use no ecommerce providers. My solution is a simple PayPal IPN process. Customers click the buy button inside my program and they instantly get to the paypal purchase page. When they complete the transaction, my webpage is notified and an email is sent. I also create the customer record in my database, etc etc. This is clear, simple and works well unless the email gets lost. It is a simple $20 B2C software, I see no point making a big fuss about the registration process.

Maybe I should route them through my webpage first to get their IP, attach a passthrough variable to the PayPal transaction so I could display a personalized message for them if they return to my webpage after purchase. Still not bulletproof, they may never return and their IP may change anytime. I absolutely do not want to add extra clicks and steps to the purchase process.
Zka Send private email
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Something I've helped a lot of clients with is explaining to the buyer exactly what will happen, preferably with a picture.

Explain that they will receive an email with their registration or license number, that it might end up in their junk folder and, most importantly, show them what the email looks like.

If for example your product is called Blue Widget, they may be scanning their email for "Blue Widget" or "License Key" or similar. But they could easily miss it if you're using the subject heading of "Thank you!" or "Upgrade to Pro" or something obscure.

Ideally, show an image of your license email's subject heading on a typical email client such as Outlook or Yahoo/Gmail

Likewise, make it very clear what the email is, such as;

Blue Widget License Key

The next step is to look at the text of the email. Are you offering anything FREE! or other such terms that trigger spam filters?

Here's a free tool to help test:


Hope that helps :o)

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, December 23, 2013
You might want to try this too:


That will show if your server is blacklisted

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, December 23, 2013
Thanks for the links. The spam test says clear (-0.3).
I'm not blacklisted anywhere. I've sent about 10 mails from 4 addresses to both his email addresses and none went through. This is quite clearly a VERY badly configured spamfilter.

Snail mail posted today, customer lives in Puerto Rico, that's gonna be a nice trip from Hungary. Anyone inclined to post bets on the delivery time? :) I say 2 weeks :(

I've spent the last night figuring out how to force paypal to return to my site after purchase. I've found a great and simple solution: turn on Auto Return and PDT (Payment Data Transfer). This will redirect to a given URL 3 seconds after purchase. The transaction ID and some other params will be passed via the URL. As I already have the customer record by this time (via IPN), I look up the appropriate record from the database and redirect the user to his download page and that's it. If the customer doesn't close the browser immediately after paypal purchase, he will return to my store seamlessly, making the email redundant.

By the way I'm properly listing all the information AC suggested on my registration page - but many users don't see it as they never visit the registration page before purchase. I guess I'll have to show a stay on top dialog when someone initiates a direct PP purchase from my trial and explain the things there as well.

Thank you guys.
Zka Send private email
Monday, December 23, 2013
Air Mail from the UK is a maximum of seven working days, I expect it's similar from Hungary.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The problem is likely to be your non-US server. Some US email providers (sbcglobal and earthlink in particular) bounce almost all non-US email addresses. We check for this on our contact forms and advise the user that they need to use a different email address when contacting us, as there's no way around it - it's simply impossible for us, with our UK server to send emails to any of these addresses. (This is a known issue going back years that the companies in question have never addressed - little island USA mentality).

In the case of purchase emails, you should offer a CC payment option as well as PayPal. If you use a company like Fastspring, all the emails get through. This is one of the things you pay for, and one of the reasons you should consider paying for it.
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
"bounce almost all non-US email addresses"

Okay, but my server that sends the automated emails is located in TX, USA.
Zka Send private email
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Try using MailChimp's Mandrill.com service.

It's for sending transactional emails and includes statistics on emails being delivered and opened.

I've found it much more reliable than sending emails from your own server.

It's free for up to 12k emails per month with no monthly fee.

Give that a try.
Scott U Send private email
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Thans for the advice Scott, this Mandrill thing looks really good.
Zka Send private email
Sunday, December 29, 2013

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz