How to troubleshoot Email Delivery Issues in Blackbaud Internet Solutions

In this Knowledgebase, Application will refer to both Blackbaud Internet Solutions for CRM(BBIS).

Email is a critical tool to share messages and information. There are multiple Functional Areas for email within the Application, and investigating issues may vary from area to area. For example, the Application processes Campaign Messages in a much different way than it does standard Messages. 

There are many different reasons why an email may not be delivered, including but not limited to: Application issues processing an Email Job or List, receiving server spam policies, reputation of the sender, quality of Lists, frequency and regularity of contact, recipient reports of spam, and Message content.

Email Delivery issues may be categorized in two main ways.  Click the link to jump the related portion of the Answer section:
  1. Issues processing an Email Job
  2. Issues delivering to a particular address, or group of addresses

What common scenarios might lead to an investigation into email delivery issues?
  • Intended recipient contacts sender to advise that they have not received expected Acknowledgement/Message/Appeal/Newsletter
  • A Failure Notification email is sent to the address specified in an email Message (Configured on a new Message by clicking More Options)
  • Reviewing the Message Report and Recipients tabs of a Sent Message identifies an Email Delivery Status of something other than Sent
  • Reviewing a Query or report from the back-office system identifying failed deliveries
Issues processing an Email Job
The Email Delivery Status tells us the status of the email job, and is the key to understanding workflow and identifying the points of failure for the processing of any email job. Email Delivery Status is a universal value across all Functional Areas where an Email job is generated. Some examples include:
  • Messages tab of an Acknowledgement
  • Message Report > Delivery Summary of a submitted Message
  • Send Test and Send Final tabs on Campaigns
A comprehensive list of job Delivery Statuses and meanings can be found in the user guides, but some notable ones that could indicate issues processing the email job are listed below:
 
Prepared - A Message will stay in Prepared status until the Email service runs, as defined in Administration > Sites > Settings > Schedule. With the default value of Every 1 minute, a message should not persist in this status for more than 1 minute beyond its submission. If a Message is in a Prepared status for longer than the scheduled interval indicates, refer to this Knowledgebase article.

Processing - This status has the most difficult timeframe to gauge universally. The number of recipients, message content, number of merge fields included, and system connectivity between Application and back-office systems; can all impact processing time. A good way to establish a benchmark for a list/message is to review prior messages sent to the same list. If the last three messages to that list spent 1.5 hours in Processing, and the current message is similar in content and appears to be in that Status for the last 3 hours, troubleshooting should begin with this Knowledgebase article.

Accepted - Email jobs in this status have been fully processed and uploaded to the Email delivery servers. They will persist in this status until the Send After date passes, at which time the job will be sent from the email delivery servers.

Exception - Exceptions indicate an error in the execution of the email processing code and/or in the process of uploading email job to the email delivery servers. If information on the particular exception is unavailable in Knowledgebase, a critical support case should be created to assist in evaluation.

Important note: after cliking 'Send Final', deleting the email from within the application will not prevent the email from being delivered, regardless of the status of the email job. Refer to this Knowledgebase article for more information.
 


Issues delivering to a particular address, or group of addresses
The first step is to Identify what email job the recipient(s) has not received, and confirm the associated job has processed to a Sent status. The second step is to investigate the details of the individual's Recipient Status.

Following is a breakdown of how to investigate each of the Functional Areas associated with sending email. 
 
Note: While this approach will identify why the intended recipient did not receive the message, it may sometimes be necessary to investigate the root cause of Bounced messages further. Lack of standardization across email server Bounce responses makes maintaining a comprehensive list of these types of messages impractical. If the Bounce response returned does not provide enough information to progress investigation of the issue, it may be necessary to contact the administrator of the receiving server for additional information.
 
Messages (and Message Reports)
Message Reports are available on all Messages; as well as on sent Newsletter Issues and sent Campaign Test/Final Messages. On Message Reports, the Recipients tab allows you to search and filter the message recipients.
  • Verify that both the recipient and the email address is included in the message's List
  •  The Application defines the Email address used from constituent-based lists, in Administration -- > General > Phone Type Mapping > Email address. If a record is included in a list and does not have the matching email type, the record will appear with no email address in the list or message report.
  • For BBNC, confirm that "Request no email" is not checked on the Raiser's Edge constituent record
  • Evaluate the Recipient Status
    • Sent (aggregate of both Opened and Not Opened )
      If a messages shows that it was Sent to a specific address, this means it was processed by the Application and delivered from the email delivery servers.
      If a constituent reports non-receipt of an email with this Recipient Status, suggest the recipient check the following:
      • Check personal Spam/Junk/Trash folders via email client
      • Confirm whether their organization uses an anti-spam appliance or application that has quarrantined the email
      • Confirm correct email address is on file, and update records as necessary
      • Add sending domain as a Trusted Sender (Consult your email program's Help files)
         
    • Bounce (Hard)
      Hard Bounces represent messages that where the receiving email server explicitly identifies the email recipient as invalid within their domain. Syntax of the rejection will depend on the receiving email server, but typically takes the form of: "invalid recipient", "recipient does not exist at this domain", "address does not exist", "mailbox not found", etc.

      Hard Bounces represent permanent failures, and as a result, accounts will be added to Email > Invalid Accounts. Bounce information can be viewed by clicking the corresponding icon in the Action column. 
      If a constituent reports non-receipt of an email with this Recipient Status:
      • Confirm correct email address is on file, and update records as necessary
         
    • Bounce (Soft)
      Soft Bounces represent a sent message that was undeliverable for a non-permanent reason. These may include: "inbox full", "could not connect to server", "server unavailable" or any other bounce message that isn't an explicit rejection of the recipient address. Bounce information can be viewed by clicking the corresponding icon in the Action column. 

      Accounts with a Soft Bounce are not added to Invalid Accounts. Thus, the system will attempt to process and deliver the next attempt to send to the address. Unless the Bounce message implies otherwise, action would not typically be taken on accounts with this Recipient Status.  
       
    • Invalid Account
      A previous message to this email address resulted in a Hard Bounce. If the recipient is not removed from the List(s), subsequent attempts to email the address will not be processed by the Application, and will appear in the 'Not Sent' area of the message report.
      If a constituent reports non-receipt of an email with this Recipient Status:
      • Identify if the account in question is now valid. If so, edit the Invalid Account entry and click 'Mark as Valid'
         
    • Invalid Address
      These addresses don't conform to the correct format of an email address: recipient@domain.xxx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_address) . The Application does not process such recipients, and these would also appear as 'Not Sent'.
       
    • Opted Out
      These are list recipients who were included but who have previously opted out. The application will not process these and they appear as 'Not Sent'
Campaigns
When troubleshooting Campaign issues, it is best to follow the workflow of the tabbed interface. There will typically be multiple Messages associated with each list throughout the lifecycle of the Campaign's Appeal or Email Effort, so identifying all of the Messages initially will ensure thorough investigation. Once the specific message(s) have been identified, it can be investigated per the Messages section above.
Campaign Appeal/Email Effort Tabs:
Target Lists - These are the intended recipients. Each List results in its own associated Test and Final Messages.
Seed Lists - This group receives all messages sent, and is typically an internal control group
Exclusion Lists - This is a list of recipients that will be removed before job is processed
Messages - Create the messages to be used in the Test and Final phases
Send Test - Each Target List can have multiple Test Messages added, each sent to a percentage of the Target List. Message Reports are
available for all sent Tests
Send Final - Each Target List can have one Final Messages added, sent to all recipients who did not receive one of the Test Messages. Only
Messages sent as Tests are available to be sent as a Final Message. Message Reports are available for Final Messages.
Results - Overview of the response of each of the Target Lists' Test and Final Messages

Newsletters
Each Newsletter requires explicit opt-in via Email Preferences or Communication Preference forms. Anonymous users may use the Anonymous Newsletter part, which can be configured for a specific Newsletter. Newsletter lists consist of all addresses opted in to the Newsletter, and are not available for review. Once an Issue is sent, however, you do have access to review the Issue's Message Report, per the Messages section above

Acknowledgements
Acknowledgement emails are managed under Email > Acknowledgements. This list shows the Acknowledgement emails for all parts that use Acknowledgement emails (Donation, Event Registration, Forgotten/Password etc.) Editing the Acknowledgement allows you to review the Messages tab for that Acknowledgement. This tab list recipients of that Acknowledgement, and is searchable and includes a Recipient Status filter.

In BBNC, Acknowledgements are not affected by a constituent account's email preferences. Regardless of whether or not an account is opted in to received email, Acknowledgements will be delivered to the address submitted, for all applicable transactions.

In BBIS, Communications Preferences Forms allow for granular configuration of Acknowledgements preferences. The Communications Preferences Form should be investigated for an Acknowledgements form element, as well as the status of the reporting account.

Scheduled Emails
When investigating issues with specific Messages sent by a Scheduled Email, you will need to:
1. Edit Scheduled Email and identify Template
2. Access the Templates functional area
3. Edit the template and click the Message tab
 
Email Functional Areas:
Lists - Created from a variety of data sources, including queries and CSVs; Lists represent groups of targeted recipients
Templates- Commonly used themes may be saved as Templates, and all Messages must be based on a Template
Messages - Directly targeted, bulk email efforts. Messages must be sent to Lists
Campaigns - A newly-created Campaign Record allows you to generate any number of Appeals (BBNC) or Email Efforts(BBIS) beneath it. Within each Appeal/Email effort you add at least one List and send a series of Test Messages, each to a percentage of the Target List. After evaluating response of each Test, you send a Final Message to the remainder of List(s) recipients
Acknowledgements - Automated transactional response emails such as: Forgotten Password, New User Registration Emails, Donations, Event Registrations
Invalid Accounts - Invalid Accounts are the result of Hard Bounces from a previous email attempt. Hard Bounces are those where the receiving email server explicitly responds that the addressee is not valid within the domain. When the Application is Processing the email job, it will remove any included recipients who appear in Invalid Accounts. This is a key way the Application protects email reputation by scrubbing jobs of Invalids, which would increase spam ratings if they were included
Newsletters - In each Newsletter, you create Issues that are sent to recipients who have opted-in to the specific Newsletter via their website profile.
Notifications - Configured for site users to provide notification of site/account activity
Scheduled Emails - A process for scheduling the sending of Templates, only
 
For more information on each functional area, please consult our Email User Guides:
Blackbaud Internet Solutions for CRM
https://www.blackbaud.com/files/support/guides/bbnc/emailec.pdf

Blackbaud NetCommunity for The Raiser's Edge
https://www.blackbaud.com/files/support/guides/bbnc/emailre.pdf

Environment

 Blackbaud Internet Solutions

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