Troubleshoot recipients who are not receiving communications in Messages

One question that we often receive in Finalsite Support is: "Why isn't this user getting emails?" This article explains how to identify and investigate why recipients may not be receiving your communications from the Messages module.

Here are the areas you can investigate:

Manage consent preferences

From the Find Recipient view, you can see the user’s preferences by selecting the orange bell icon.

find recipient .png


Unsubscribe from all messages

How to find

In the Find Recipient logs, if the preferences choice displays No Messages, this indicates that the user has opted to unsubscribe from all Messages, or "globally unsubscribe".


How it happened

Users can globally unsubscribe in several ways.

  • The user clicked on the mandatory Unsubscribe link included in all Messages. For more information about the Unsubscribe link and why it's required, please refer to CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.
  • The user marked the message as "spam" in their email client.
  • The user manually edited the Consent Preferences in their portal account to No Messages.

How to fix

If a user has globally unsubscribed, it's a bad practice to resubscribe them automatically. If, however, the user has contacted you and requested to receive messages again, you can do so.

Go to Messages > Contacts > Find Recipient. Search for the recipient using the search field located at the top right-hand corner. Select the orange bell icon to the right of the recipient's name, click the Preferences tab, and select the new preference selection.

Unsubscribe from a list

How to find

Rather than globally unsubscribing, the user may have selected to unsubscribe from a specific mailing list. You can check the recipient’s unsubscribe history on their Messages Find Recipient log to see if they are unsubscribed from the mailing list.

How it happened

Users can unsubscribe from a mailing list in two ways.

  • By clicking on the mandatory "Unsubscribe" link included in all Messages. For more information about the Unsubscribe link and why it's required, refer to Complying with CAN-SPAM: Unsubscribe link.
  • By editing their subscription settings in their portal account and clicking on the “-” next to the mailing list.


How to fix

It's a bad practice to resubscribe someone who unsubscribed from a mailing list automatically, but if the user has asked you to do so, you have the option available.

  • Go to Messages > Lists, find and click on the mailing list in question.
  • Filter by status “unsubscribed” and search for the recipient in the field at the right-hand side.
  • Select the + to the right to Resubscribe.

Manage suppressions

In some instances, there is some kind of problem with the recipient addresses (either temporary or permanent) and Messages will not send any messages to them. This may be triggered because a user has marked a message as "spam" in their email client (as discussed in the “Global Unsubscribes” section above).

You can receive a notification when a message either bounces or is flagged as spam. To do this, go to the Site Administration module > Email Domain Settings to add Notification Addresses where notifications will be sent in these cases.

Email domain settings > email notifications setup screen to set up unsubscribe and bounce notifications

How to find

  • Go to Messages > Contacts > Suppressions.
  • Search for the recipient in the search field at the right-hand side.

How it happened

When we send an email, there are three possible results:

  • The message is accepted by the receiving server normally, marked as “Sent” and “Delivered” in Messages Reports.
  • The server detects a problem with delivery but continues to attempt delivery over 24 hours. If it’s unsuccessful, it will be marked as “Dropped.” Dropped email addresses are not unsubscribed from mailing lists.
  • The email cannot be delivered to the intended recipient because of some technical error, so the recipient’s email server rejected the message and returned it to your Finalsite server. This will be marked as “Bounced,” and these emails are unsubscribed from mailing lists.

How to fix

Review the Summary code to learn more about the reason the email was suppressed.

If the recipient has been suppressed in error, you can remove them by clicking the “+” in the Suppressions list. This must be done one at a time; there is not an option to bulk unsuppress emails.

Messages will resume delivering messages to the address -- unless there are more bounces, in which case it will be returned to the Suppressions list. 

If the message was marked “Bounced,” but there is no reason code, this may be because the recipient kept the consent preferences as “My Choice.” This means messages will not get sent unless the recipient personally subscribes to the list through their notification preferences. This can be confirmed by going to Contacts > Find Recipients, as discussed in the "Find Recipients" section above.

Important Note

"My Choice" Preference: Even once the user changes their preference to "All Messages" they may still appear on the suppression list until removed.

Find data error(s)

How to find

If the user hasn't unsubscribed or been added to the Suppressions list, next check if the recipient's data is correct.

The first place to check is the recipient profile in Constituent Manager or from the datasheet upload. Confirm that the email address is correct, and the proper address is set as primary.

Important Note

You can quickly see the recipient’s profile by clicking on their name from the mailing list.

Double-check any details, such as grade and relationships that may affect mailing list filters and verify they are listed in the intended groups within Group Manager.

How it happened

The user's constituent profile may have an out-of-date address or the wrong address set as primary.

Other fields in the constituent profile may be misconfigured. For example:

  • The student may be in a different grade/class.
  • The parent/child relationship may be reversed.
  • The email type might be set incorrectly.

The user may inadvertently have multiple constituent profiles.

If recipients were added to the mailing list manually, the user might not have been added to the list.

How to fix

When you find an error in the user's constituent profile, the obvious solution is to update the data accordingly. If you have an integration, be sure to update the data on the SIS (student information system). This way, the updated information will be copied into Finalsite when the integration next runs.

If the user should be included on a mailing list but isn't, verify how recipients were added to the list. If dynamic filters generate the list, double-check that the filters are set up correctly. You may find other users aren't receiving emails and don't even know it!

Find recipient-side error(s)

How to find

Finally, if you’ve done the following:

Then there's a good chance the overall issue is that the user’s email provider or server is preventing your Message from getting into the user’s inbox.

How to fix

If you suspect the user's email client is blocking Messages from delivery, you can send the user the following steps:

  • Request that the user saves the emails’ “From” address to their list of contacts or safe senders (in the email client's address book). The “From” address can be found in Messages > Settings > Reply to Addresses.
  • Request that the user checks all spam/trash and all "promotion" filters and folders.
  • Whitelist Messages server IP addresses to ensure constituents receive emails sent from Messages. (Not every email client provides this option, but if they do, this may require reaching out to the email provider's support. If the issue is happening on a school's network, this may be able to do be done on the school's server.)

Subscriber best practices

  • Filter subscriber status in the Message List for a quick peek before you send a Message to help ensure more successful deliveries
  • Look up the user's history using the Find Recipient tool.
    • Go to Messages > Contacts > Find Recipient.
    • Enter the user's name or email address in the search field.
    • Select the name from the list to see Message history.

This log displays Lists that are subscribed to or have been unsubscribed from and recently received Messages.


Once you've been through all these steps, please contact Support if you still haven't resolved the user's issue. 

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