Email plays a crucial role in virtually every single one of our lives. Studies show that 58 percent of consumers check their email first thing in the morning. Compare that number to dwindling five percent of people who check their favorite news program when they wake up.

Due to the popularity of email, it’s no wonder that developers and business owners are focused on making sure their messages reach their destination. Similarly, they must get emails from their website when someone completes a form or leaves a comment.

Missing messages can result in decreased sales, limited productivity, and a broken line of communication between employees and consumers. We are going to look at two protocols you should keep in mind if you want to improve your email deliverability and keep your website running smoothly.

What is SMTP?

The first protocol we are going to talk about it called SMTP. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. If you developed your website on a platform like WordPress, you might still be using PHP settings to send out emails.

PHP allows you to quickly send out emails because it doesn’t include an important step that verifies the message as authentic. The email server that transfers the message to the recipient’s inbox will try to confirm if the email was created and sent using the same server. PHP settings can create a conflict that causes the message to go to the spam folder, or it will never get delivered in the first place.

SMTP settings secure the message and ensure that it is correctly authenticated before landing in the recipients inbox.

What is IMAP?

IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, is another notable aspect of communicating via email. The purpose of IMAP is to deliver emails from the transitional server to the inbox of the intended recipient.

There are other protocols for receiving emails, most notably POP3, or Post Office Protocol. POP3 is popular, but the technique used to transmit the emails are considered ancient by our standards today.

POP3 will transfer the email, but once it’s sent, it’s wiped from the server. IMAP, on the other hand, transfers the email and syncs the transmission across multiple devices. In other words, it’s retrievable regardless of the method you choose to use.

Why You Need Both

Now let’s look at an example of how IMAP and SMTP play a vital role when sending out emails to colleagues or your email list.

Let’s say you decide to create an email and send it out. Your email service provider (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) takes your message and sends it to an email server. If you’re using SMTP, you should see success when sending your email to the server.

The server will process the email and attempt to make a connection with the recipient’s service provider. Again, SMTP is used to communicate with the service provider. The client will verify that the message is not spammy or sent from a different address when compared to the point of origin.

Finally, the recipient’s email service provider will use IMAP to retrieve the message from the server and drop it in the inbox of your intended recipient. The entire process doesn’t take long, but one small error in the protocol could stop the email from sending. Similarly, IMAP is important if you want to ensure that emails get delivered right to your inbox.


There are plenty of different ways to send and receive emails, but none are quite as effective as using SMTP and IMAP. As technology advances, we will likely see new types of protocol in use for helping developers and business owners handle sending and accepting new messages.

Your service provider can help you set up and use SMTP and IMAP. Regardless of the size of your website or business, these are two aspects of email that you can’t afford to skip. We all rely heavily on our inbox, and one missed email could result in days, or even weeks, of lost time and opportunities.