Bounced Emails – Common Issues and What To Do

It happens to everyone once in a while – you send an email and it bounces back undeliverable.  You end up with a cryptic email which may have 30-40 lines of strange information in it, but what do you do to fix it?  Luckily the most common issues are easily resolved and the details of the issue are in the bounce message.

It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for.  Don’t let the long gibberish of the bounce email scare you!  Giving it a quick review will usually show the cause of the bounce:

Quota Exceeded

This is the most common issue and is usually the easiest to determine  as it generally appears near the top of the bounced email:

procmail: Quota exceeded while writing "/var/mail/johnsmith"

You can guess the issue here – the “johnsmith” email account is full.  If that’s your own account  or one of your users then you can login to webmail and delete old email from the inbox, or set the email program to delete old email when it downloads.  Either solution will clear up the issue, but setting the email program to delete old email will keep it clean automatically.

If you were sending to someone outside of your hosting account with LexiConn, then they would need to clean up their inbox with their mail provider.

User or Host Unknown

Very common, and usually easy to find in the bounce message:

550 5.1.1 <webmaster@domain.com>... User unknown

If you see “User unknown” then the receiving email server may have a problem, or it could simply be a typo in the email address.  Check to make sure the email address is correct.  You may also see “Host unknown” which points to an issue with their mail server itself or just the domain name is wrong on the email address.  For example if you send an email to someone at gmail.com but typed in gmaill.com you may see a “Host Unknown” bounce come back.

Large Emails

A less common issue, but usually easy to determine from the text of a bounce message is:

552 5.2.3 Message size exceeds fixed maximum 
message size (20000000)

The number at the end may vary in size, but the issue is still the same – the email was too large for the email server.  In this example the max size allowed is 20MB.  A normal text email would never reach this size, so there must have been a file attached.  The file itself may have been smaller than 20MB, but due to email encoding the total size of the message was over 20MB.

If you’re sending a variety of files in 1 email, the solution may be to simply split your attachments over 2-3 emails, assuming no single file is too large by itself.  Another option would be a forwarding service such as the one by HighTail below.  Their free option allows files up to 250MB to be sent.  The sender can upload a file to the website and it in turn emails a link  to the receiver to download the file:

https://www.hightail.com/lite

The Dreaded Block List

This issue appears a large variety of ways, but the premise of the error is the same – your email was blocked due to the IP address being in a block list with either an ISP or a black list provider.  Here’s a sample of what it can look like in the bounce message:

550 OU-002 (BAY004-MC6F8) Unfortunately, messages from 10.11.12.13
 weren't sent. Please contact your Internet service provider since part of
 their network is on our block list. You can also refer your provider to
 http://mail.live.com/mail/troubleshooting.aspx#errors.

When you see an issue like this, the first thing to do is check to see if the IP address is your own.  To check your IP visit the following website:

http://www.whatismyip.com/

They will show your IP address on the screen.  If it matches the one shown in the bounce message then your local IP is on the list.  If you have a business-class internet service you may be able to contact your ISP and have them work on getting the block cleared.  However if you’re emailing from home and have a regular residential internet service provided by someone like Comcast or Verizon there is usually no chance of ever getting the IP removed.

A better solution is to change your email program to send through your hosting account with us and not through your ISP.  When sending through your ISP your email goes out with your local IP and is then seen by all the email servers.  If you send email through your hosting account then your server’s IP with us is seen instead.

We have a section in our Knowledge Base here with articles for how to configure various email programs:

http://support.lexiconn.com/kb/categories/E-Mail/Configuring+Email+Programs/

Basically you want to check to make sure your email program sends using “mail.your-domain.com” with your email username and password.  A setting usually called “Outgoing Authentication” or “My outgoing server requires authentication” must be on which tells your email program to login when sending email.  This will allow your email to be sent through your hosting server.

Unfortunately not all email providers look at the sending IP correctly.  Even though you may have configured your program to send through us, some blacklists still look at the original source IP and block it.  If this is happening for you or if the IP in the bounce doesn’t match your local IP please forward us the bounce message and we will research it.

These are just a few of the many reasons emails may bounce.  Luckily the most common reasons are simple to resolve, but if you’re hosted with LexiConn and have not been able to find a cause for the bounce please don’t hesitate to forward it to us and we’ll take a look.  Be sure to include a copy of the bounced error as it will help us track down the cause, and (if it’s not already in the bounce email) including details such as the sending email address, the to email address, and the date/time the email was sent will help as well.

Magento – Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

speeding-bulletMagento is a popular, powerful ecommerce solution. It’s also quite slow out of the box.

How slow?

The metaphor “as slow as a snail” comes to mind. (and that’s being kind…)

However, with a few changes and some know-how, Magento can be as fast as any other ecommerce application, and likely faster than most.

Here’s what we do for our hosting clients to make Magento fly…

Out of the box vanilla install

To put this into perspective, we first installed a Magento Community 1.9.0.1 version along with the sample data for a fully functional demo store. For this install, we did not perform any optimizations, just installed it as-is on a regular server.

We tested the “Sale” page of the demo, which is a category page with 4 products on it. This is a good representative page for any ecommerce store.

  • The initial page load came in at 3.9 seconds.
  • The repeat view had a page load time of 3.5 seconds.
  • The Time to First Byte (TTFB) was 1.8 seconds

Here’s the Webpagetest.org results:

Unoptimized Results (click image to enlarge)

Unoptimized Results (click image to enlarge)

The load time of nearly 4 seconds is very slow to render a web page. The TTFB of almost 2 seconds is an eternity. Ideally you want to be under 0.25 seconds.

As you can see, Magento out of the box with no optimizations is a dog.

Optimized Magento Demo on a Virtual Private Server (VPS)

The speeds you saw above with the vanilla install are what you might find at a host that does not specialize in Magento. In fact, that may be considered “fast” on some hosting servers (which is sad).

What could you expect if you were to host a Magento store with us? To answer that, we installed the same Magento 1.9.0.1 version with sample data on a standard VPS (that has other live Magento clients on it). We applied our standard optimizations that we do for any Magento store we host.

Here’s what we did:

  • Latest Apache web server running in threaded mode for the most efficient environment to scale well.
  • Latest PHP 5.4 with proper optimized settings running as php-fpm for the best performance.
  • APC Op-code caching installed and optimized for Magento (size, speed, fragmentation monitoring).
  • MySQL 5.5 with optimized Query Caching and InnoDB settings.
  • .htaccess adjustments for proper gzip compression and proper client side caching
  • Magento admin settings adjusted for caching, indexing, ideal cron, and log rotations.
  • Two extensions installed for a Full Page Cache and Site Optimizer (combining css/js files, compressing images, minifying html code)

Optimized Results

  • The initial page load was 0.9 seconds
  • The repeat view page load time was 0.38 seconds
  • Initial Time to First Byte (TTFB) was 0.16 seconds

Here’s the Webpagetest.org results:

Optimized VPS (click image to enlarge)

Optimized VPS (click image to enlarge)

We were able to make the initial page view 400% faster. On a repeat view, this increased to almost 1,000% faster!

TTFB dropped by a factor of 10.

Essentially, you can browse this ecommerce Magento site with pages loading in well under a second. Almost seamless browsing from page to page.

Feel free to try the site yourself: magento-demo.lexiconn.com

Magento can (and should) be fast

We were able to take a fully populated demo of Magento and make every page fully load in under a second. Each page is rendered viewable in under 0.2 seconds.

That is how it should be.

Unfortunately, many web hosts don’t offer this type of speed for their Magento clients. Overloaded servers, improperly tuned environments, and poorly executed set ups can contribute to a Magento store that can take up to 20 seconds for pages to load.

If your store is not running as fast as you’d like, get in touch with us. We can help you migrate your Magento store with NO downtime, no re-work needed, and we can enable your store to complete more sales due to a vastly improved experience for your customers. All of this in a PCI compliant environment.

No two Magento stores are alike. We personalize each environment to meet the needs and specific requirements of each installation. This is “the magic” that can set your store apart from the rest, and allow it to be “faster than a speeding bullet”.

photo credit

Shopsite Tip – Universal Analytics

universal-analytics-logoAs many of you know, the latest version of ShopSite (v12) now supports Google’s Universal Analytics tracking code.

Universal Analytics includes many improved features over its predecessor, including:

  • Tracking of user sessions across multiple devices
  • Compatibility with more devices
  • More control over configuration options
  • Custom dimensions and metrics for more advanced reporting

A complete list of Universal Analytics features and benefits can be found at:

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2790010?hl=en

If you haven’t already upgraded your existing Google Analytics properties to Universal Analytics, now is as good a time as any to make the switch.  Simply follow the upgrade instructions (step 1 only) at:

https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/upgrade/guide#transfer

Once your property is upgraded, the next step is optional.  Although it is recommended, it is not required that you incorporate the new tracking code (at least not immediately).  Your pages and conversions will continue to track using the old code, despite having upgraded your property/account.

Merchants using ShopSite will update their tracking code in one of two ways – either using the built-in option or by adding the code manually.

ShopSite Published Pages

Merchants publishing their store pages via ShopSite can simply enable (or update) the Google Analytics feature in the back office under Merchandising > Google Services > Analytics.  Once the configuration changes are complete, save, then publish the site.

ShopSite will automatically add the required tracking code to your store pages, products and shopping cart.  This includes the ecommerce tracking code for the thank you page (requires that ecommerce tracking be enabled in your Analytics account).

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Order Anywhere (or Custom Tracking Code)

Merchants building pages outside of ShopSite (and those who require customized tracking code), will need to add the new UA code manually to their site.

To assist you, we have published the following tutorial with instructions for manually adding Universal Tracking code (including ecommerce code) to your pages and shopping cart:

http://support.lexiconn.com/news/forums/topic/manually-adding-universal-analytics-to-your-site/

If you are hosted with LexiConn and you have any questions or difficulty implementing Universal Analytics, please don’t hesitate to contact us :)

ShopSite Tip – Quick Tips For Quantity Discounts

Quantity Pricing Sample

Quantity Pricing Sample

Quantity Pricing is a simple but powerful feature in ShopSite Pro which allows you to provide discounts for large orders, and even discount pricing across multiple products in the same product group.

In this post we’ll cover some tips for configuring as well as common mistakes which can occur.

 

The Settings

Quantity Pricing Settings

[click for larger view]

Quantity Pricing is configured at the product level, on a product’s Edit Product Info screen. In the sample here you’ll see it’s enabled with 3 different pricing quantities configured.

If Quantity Pricing is not working for you, the first thing to check is to make sure the “Check here to turn on Quantity Pricing” checkbox is enabled.  It’s common to miss that setting.

Next, be sure that the “Price/Unit” field is set with the amount you want to charge “Per Item”.  It’s not a total price for the quantity shown, but the price you want to charge per item when that quantity is in the cart.

For example in our sample we charge $2.00/each if you have a quantity of 1-499 in the cart.  But if you have 500-999 in the cart you are only charged $1.50/each.

NOTE: The price shown is charged for the total quantity of that product in the cart.  Ordering 750 will not charge $2.00 for the first 499 products and then $1.50 for 500-750.  Since the quantity is in the 500-999 range all 750 are charged $1.50/each.


Quantity Groups

Quanity Pricing Groups

[click for larger view]

What really expands the Quantity Pricing feature is its ability to classify products into groups.  Let’s say you want to run a special where someone can buy a mixture of 10 or more items at a discounted price:

The first step is to create a group for those products, which is done on the Merchandising Tools > Discounts > Quantity Groups screen.  Shown here is that screen with a “Movies” group created.

Then configure each of those 10 products to have Quantity Pricing enabled and set the 1+ price to the regular retail price and the 10+ price to be your discounted price.

While editing the pricing, set the “Quantity Pricing Group” field on the bottom of that section to the group you created.  You can see that field set to “none” in the first screenshot above.

With that field set, ShopSite will count the quantities of all products in the cart which are assigned to the same group to determine which price they receive.  So if someone buys 5 each of 2 different products in the Movies group they will receive the 10+ discounted price.


Sale Prices

As you may have seen in the first screenshot, Quantity Pricing also supports sale prices, so when the “On Sale Toggle” value (on a product’s Edit Product Layout screen) is enabled the “On Sale Price/Unit” column will be used.  It’s blank in our sample, but you can fill that in if you use the On Sale feature with your products.


Test, Test, Test

When you’re trying a new feature don’t hesitate just to test it.  Add a test page to your store (be sure to give it a filename: ex: “testpage.html”) then add a test product to that page and configure it with quantity pricing and all the settings you want to use.

Then you can visit your test page and your product’s More Info Page see how the pricing displays and test it by adding the product to your cart.  This way you can experiment without using a live product a customer may be trying to order.

 

Google Shopping: Goodbye Product Listing Ads

Google recently launched Shopping Campaigns, a new type of Adwords campaign, which is set to replace Product Listing Ad campaigns (PLA’s).  New Merchant Center feeds are required to use the new Shopping Campaign type.  According to Google, legacy feeds will be migrated to the new campaign type later this Summer (August 2014 ETA).

The new Shopping Campaign type has many benefits for merchants, including:

  • Streamlined Interfaceshopingcart
  • Advanced Product Targeting
  • Custom Labels
  • Negative Keywords

 

Within the new interface, Google has included a complete list of all eligible products in your shopping feed.  That’s right, no more switching back and forth between Adwords and Merchant Center just to verify current product list :)

Having the list in Adwords also helps eliminate any question as to whether your most up-to-date product feed is connected to Adwords.  There is, of course, a short delay before Adwords updates with the latest feed, but it’s worth the wait!

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

 

Dissecting the ‘All Products’ group is another strength of Shopping Campaigns.  The improved interface is easier and more powerful than its predecessors often irritating task of setting “Auto-Targets”.

When sub-dividing a group, Adwords automatically verifies the attribute exists in your feed.  Then,  it loads the appropriate items into the left window.  To select items for your sub-group, simply drag from the left window to the right window.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

Below are the attributes available for sub-dividing the ‘All products’ group:

  • Category
  • Brand
  • Item ID
  • Condition
  • Product type
  • Custom label (0-4)

While there are several new options, it’s important to note that “adwords labels” and “adwords grouping” are no longer available for targeting products.  If you use these fields currently, you will want to migrate those values to one of the newly available custom labels.  Also noteworthy, is that “Category” represents the first level of the Google taxonomy (assigned to each product in your shopping feed).

Item ID works quite well in the new interface and gives merchants the ability to set CPC targets for a single product.  If you recall, this option did not work as expected in the PLA version.

Google also delivers five new custom attributes to help further organize and segment your product list.  Using these new fields of course, requires that you add them to your shopping feed.

To take advantage of custom labels, ShopSite users can leverage Extra Product Fields to send across new product categories, labels, descriptors, etc…

To create Extra Product Fields:

  • Navigate to Preferences > Extra Fields
  • Determine which Extra Product Field is to be used, assign it the name ‘custom_label_0′ (You can add up to 5 custom fields – last one would be named ‘custom_label_4′)
  • Update the ‘Number of product fields to display’, then Save

Assigning Extra Product Fields to the Google Shopping Feed:

  • Navigate to Merchandising > Google Services > Shopping > Configure
  • In the Attributes section, check the boxes next to each custom label you wish to include in the feed, then Save
    (click to enlarge)

    (click to enlarge)

  • Click ‘Send Feed’

The steps required for Magento users will vary based on the extension used in their respective stores.  The steps below apply primarily to those store owners using the core Google API.

  • Create new product attributes under Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attributes.
(click to enlarge)

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  • Assign new attribute to the appropriate Attribute Set under Catalog > Attributes > Manage Attribute Sets.
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  • Map new attributes to the Google Shopping feed using Catalog > Google Content > Manage Attributes.
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  • Synchronize products under Catalog >  Google Content > Manage Items.

Negative Keywords

Using negative keywords helps prevent ads from displaying where they have little opportunity to convert.  While this doesn’t necessarily change your budget, it should help ensure advertising dollars are better spent.  the new interface allows negative keywords to be assigned at the campaign and/or ad group level.  For negative keywords to be successful, you should choose terms used to find your products that also have keywords which do not relate to items you sell.

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Be careful not to include a negative keyword or phrase that matches one of your valid keywords.  Doing so will prevent your ads from running!

Here are some links that may be helpful to understanding and using negative keywords:

To read more about the features in Shopping Campaigns, please visit Google.

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