5 Ways An Email Reaches Its Destination

by | Sep 22, 2016 | Email Marketing

4 Min Read. |

Have you ever wondered how an email is delivered to your recipient in just a fraction of seconds? It is important for us, especially the email marketers, to know how does an email works so that the mail does not bounce back or reach the spam folder.

Following are the 5 ways an email reaches its destination i.e. the inbox of the users.

  • Your email starts with composing and sending an email using  your mail client. A mail client is a software that sits on your desktop and allows you to create and receive emails. It basically stores your email so that you can access it even if the internet is not connected. Examples are web browsers like Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo Mail or it can be an application on your computer like Outlook, Thunderbird or Mail.
  • This in turn will send it to your router. A router’s function is to give direction to the query from server to server and sends back to the recipient. In this case the router will send to your Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server whose job is to send email to the mail server of the recipient. Before the mail reaches the mail server of the recipient, it has to pass through the barriers. Most of the barriers happen at the server level because the server is a gateway into an entire system and if any malicious mail enters the server then it will affect the entire system.

So the mail server is protected by:

  1. Firewall – is a barrier which protect the system from viruses.
  2.  Spam filter- checks whether the content of the mail is malicious or the mails are known spammers or not.
  • After the mail reaches the mail server, it has to face with other barriers as well to reach the recipient’s router. They are:
  1. Reputation check – checks your history or patterns of sending emails, your reputation whether you have been sending spam mails or not.
  2. Authentication check – checks to see who you say you are or your id proof and checks whether the sender is showing problematic behavior or not.
  • After clearing the above mentioned barriers, the mail will reach the recipient’s router. From here the mail will pass through yet another check to reach the mailbox and i.e.

Spam filter-  which will check for text as spam which is managed by the mailbox settings, whether the user                has marked the sender as spam or not.

  • If the email clears even this spam filter, then it gets send to 3 different places as per today’s standards of email.
  1. Their Mail Client if the users using it
  2.  Their Mail App that you use on your mobile or tab
  3.  Their Web Mail

These 3 have been mentioned separately because there is a protocol in place which allows this email system to work, which is called the post office protocol or POP3. This is the older one. There is a newer version that most of the systems use now i.e. IMAP4 which has a lot of additional benefits. One of the major benefits is that it allows synchronization of our action across devises which was not seen in POP3. That means the emails read, unread or deleted in web mail will be synchronized in app as well, which was not seen in case of POP3.

Below is the flowchart for how email works.


Problems while emailing:

The above mentioned points are the ways to send an email successfully to the other end of the user. There are various problems due to which an email will not reach the recipient’s inbox. Following are the common reasons why a mail does not reach to its destination.

  • If it does not pass through any of the barriers, then the mail will be rejected by a mail server. It bounces! Depending on which barrier the mail did not pass, it will be called a different kind of bounces:

  1.) Soft bounce-  it happens when recipient’s mailbox is full, mail server is down or email message is too large and

 2.) Hard bounce- it happens when recipient’s mail address is invalid, domain name doesn’t exist or it encountered a firewall or filter.

  • If the email addresses or IP address routinely bounce emails, then you could be put in a blacklist. Therefore no one can afford to send bulk mails.
  • If the content is lengthy or there are too many links in one mail then the mail will land up to a spam folder.
  • Bulk mailing is one of the major reason which forces users to mark the mail as spam.
  • Another reason that leads a mail to reach a spam folder is that most of the email marketers send mails to the unknown people without taking their permission. This can be called as a cold calling.

These are the commonly made mistakes by the mailers which needs to be taken care of.


Email has become an important part of our lives in terms of online conversation. So, in order to increase your presence it is important to keep in mind the problems of mailing. If we are to rely on the stats given in http://internetlivestats.com then the email marketing is going to increase in the coming years. Therefore it is important for us to understand the importance of email marketing by taking a first step towards understanding the 5 ways an email reaches its destination.

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  1. Arush Kapoor

    Thank you Vidisha Malviya for giving us such a valuable knowledge about mails. sometimes i also face such problems now i will use your technique as a guidance.

    • Vidisha Malviya

      Thanx…I hope this will help u in future:)

  2. karthikala

    These provided information was really so nice,thanks for giving that post .our giving articles really impressed for me,because of clear explanations about an ways of email reaches its destinations.And well said about an spam filters.

    • Vidisha Malviya

      Thank u so much 🙂

  3. Ravi

    Appreciate for posting the simplified process……

    • Vidisha Malviya

      Thank you 🙂


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