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When I send a non-gmail email to someone (company email) for the first time, there's a chance it will get filtered into the ether, never to be heard from again.

However, if I use their website's contact form and fill in the same email, it reaches them. I've had this happen a few times.

What is the difference in using a contact form? Isn't my email being used as the from/reply?

  • Does email goes to spam ? – again Mar 6 '18 at 5:23
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A contact form is setup by the company to explicitly get feedback. Contact forms are also often somehow protected against automatic submissions or at least any automatic submission need to be specifically adapted to the companies specific contact form. That's why such contact forms are not much used to deliver spam, at least not in mass. And that's why not much filtering for spam is done there. And, contact forms usually don't result in an email to the company with the address you've gave as sender. If the contact information are delivered by mail at all (often they don't), these emails are usually from a fixed sender and only include the information about the claimed sender and the message he left in the body of the mail.

With email instead there is no implicit rate limiting, no customization needed for specific recipients etc. This makes email a cheap way for spamming and because of this it is heavily used for spamming. And this is even more true for widely known email addresses like the contact email usually published by companies. To fight the amount of spam companies therefore employ heavy filtering so that most of the spam gets automatically detected. This might also result in false positives, i.e. non-spam messages treated as spam. This is especially true if these look like spam or they use similar delivery infrastructures as spam, like not using the delivery infrastructure of a major mail provider but instead having setup their own delivery infrastructure.

  • Contact forms come from the email of the person who filled them out. You are wrong on that point. – 4thSpace Mar 6 '18 at 13:51
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    @4thSpace: maybe the contact pages you've implemented so far do this. I know contact pages which don't and I know contact pages which don't even forward the information to the company by email. There is no inherent reason why a contact page should send a mail with the given sender. – Steffen Ullrich Mar 6 '18 at 14:16
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Email address is not the only signal used by email spam filtering. (In fact, it's far from the main signal.) Other signals that would vary between a contact form and sending an email include:

  • SPF/DKIM (in fact, these suggest your email may not be being used as the 'From')
  • Server reputation (if you're sending from a server with poor reputation)
  • Keywords in the email

It's also possible that the email server is configured to explicitly whitelist mails from the contact form, which would obviously result in the behavior you describe.

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Main difference could be is the mail domain used to send the contact form details to particular company. This email/domain could be their internal domain or trusted domain/mail (may have been configured to use only for internal communication and external reception might have been blocked). So the chances of droping could be less.

Where you are sending it from an external domain where it might go through Email Security Scan and the chances of getting dropped based on the configured rules could be high.

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