A small percentage of our members have not been receiving club MailChimp messages.  We have made configuration changes to our MailChimp accounts that fix the problem.  That is, we have verified that members who didn’t receive messages sent “the old way” successfully receive messages sent “the new way”.

While investigating this problem, we have also learned that Google has announced upcoming changes to Gmail Spam filtering that could cause delivery problems members with Gmail accounts.  Thus, we must make the changes described below or a significant percentage of our members will start having problems in the future.

The solution: all MailChimp messages must be sent from the mailchimp@vailclub50.com email address.  (If you’re interested in the reason why, there is more information at the bottom of this page.)

How To Format Your MailChimp Campaign To Make Sure It Is Received

Here’s all you need to do differently:

  • The “From name” of your Campaign must be: Vail Club 50
  • The “From email address” of your Campaign must be: mailchimp@vailclub50.com

Screenshot 2016-05-15 at 12.54.16 PM

Note a very important implication of this change: If a member clicks Reply to your message, the reply will be sent to mailchimp@vailclub50.com, which is an automated mailbox.  No human will see that reply.  Thus, if you want members to respond to your message, it must say something like:

If you have any questions, send an email message to paul.m.gerhardt@gmail.com
Do not simply Reply to this message.

This is clearly an annoyance and may take some “getting used to” for our members, but it’s a necessary side effect of making sure our MailChimp messages are delivered reliably.

“Email Beamer” Feature

This change also impacts the “Email Beamer” feature.  Click here for updated instructions and help video.

Why Must We Use mailchimp@vailclub50.com As The From Address?

If you’re interested in “why”, read on…

Without going into a lot of technical detail, we must use mailchimp@vailclub50.com in order to “prove” to that our MailChimp messages are not Spam.

When I create a MailChimp Campaign, I can enter any “From name” and “From email address” for my message.  Suppose I am a bad person.  I can enter “Hillary Clinton” as the “From name”, “hillary.clinton@gmail.com” as the “From email address”, and include a link asking for a donation.  Suppose I send that MailChimp Campaign to a list of email addresses, including “johndoe@yahoo.com”.  If John Doe receives that message in his Inbox, and John isn’t the suspicious type, he might think “Wow, Hillary Clinton really needs my help.  I’ll just click here to give her money.”

Fortunately, when the Yahoo Mail system receives the message, it can look “under the covers” to determine which computer (in this case, a MailChimp server) actually sent the message.  Yahoo Mail will immediately realize that something is funny: the “From email address” says the message is from Hillary Clinton’s Gmail account, but it wasn’t sent by a Gmail computer, it was sent by a MailChimp computer.  On top of that, the message is asking for money.  So Yahoo Mail will decide to put the message in John Doe’s Spam folder.

In general, Yahoo Mail will consider any MailChimp message “suspicious”, because the From email domain (in our example, gmail.com) doesn’t match the domain of the computer that actually sent the message (mailchimp.com).  When a message is suspicious, Yahoo Mail does additional checking to decide if the message is Spam.  If the message pretends to be from Hillary Clinton and asks for money, it’s pretty safe to assume that it’s Spam.  But if the message content doesn’t look “funny” (say, an announcement of a Vail Club 50 event), Yahoo Mail might decide it’s OK.  Spam filters have become quite sophisticated, and may do hundreds of checks to decide if a message is Spam.

Spam filters vary greatly from one email provider to another.  Thus, a club MailChimp message sent to a Yahoo account might go into Spam, while Gmail puts the exact same message into the Inbox.  The same Spam filter may even generate different results for different recipients: if I have previously received messages from the sender in my Gmail account, and I didn’t flag those messages as Spam, a new message might go into my Inbox, while the same message might go into Spam for another Gmail account that has never received a message from that sender.

The bottom line: When a MailChimp message is sent from a “public” domain (gmail.com, yahoo.com, etc.), Spam filters need to guess whether the message is Spam.  The results can be different based on the email provider and recipient account.  Thus, some of our members receive club messages with no problem, while others don’t receive anything.  Also, as mentioned above, Google has announced that in the near future, it will start flagging any MailChimp message from a “public” domain as Spam, which will cause problems for a significant percentage of our members.

The solution is to use vailclub50.com, which is a “private” domain.  Since we control the computer that sends vailclub50.com messages (unlike a “public” domain like gmail.com), we are able to do special configuration of the vailclub50.com account to “prove” to MailChimp that we own the mailchimp@vailclub50.com email account.  This allows MailChimp to format the “under the covers” information in our email messages so that the receiving Spam filters know that we are really sending the messages, and that those messages are not Spam.