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Bulk email or Spam? How to Send Email Blasts and Newsletters and Avoid Blacklisting

Hey Everybody!

So you need to send out a newsletter, and you have an email list containing hundreds or thousands of addresses. Before you hit send, there are several things you should consider that could save you a lot of headaches down the line. While your email isn’t technically “spam”, it is bulk mail, and in order combat spam there are many restrictions in place on the internet that moderate your ability to send bulk emails.

Spam

Let’s start off by defining the term Spam. Spam is anonymous, unsolicited mass email, not just a delicious lunch meat. It comes in many shapes and sizes, but in general, it’s any email you don’t want to reach your inbox.

Now let’s return to that newsletter you’d like to send. Even though you are sending a legitimate email, there are restrictions in place to block spammers that could very easily mistake your bulk email as spam. One such restriction is from your email server. Many companies deliberately put a restriction on the number of recipients for one email. Doing this ensures that the network does not get bogged down sending thousands of emails. Even if the content of your email is as small 1MB (about the size of a 1-minute MP3) and you’re sending to hundreds of addresses, this can cause all sorts of problems on your network, such as emails taking a long time to send, a painfully slow network, and server issues. As an IT professional, when a client calls complaining of slow internet connection, one of the first things we check to see is if anyone is mass emailing.

Don’t Get Blacklisted

Another potential danger of sending bulk emails from your own mail server is the possibility of getting “blacklisted”. When an internet service provider or another company’s server receives several bulk email from your server within a short period of time, they are trained to automatically recognize your server as sending spam, and can “blacklist” your network. Once you are blacklisted, many recipient mail servers will automatically reject all emails from your network. This means your mail is not getting through to anyone. Removing your network from a blacklist can be difficult and time consuming, sometimes taking several days.

There’s a Service for That

If the newsletter is only going out to a couple of recipients and there aren’t too many attachments then sure, use your Outlook, but if you want to send an email to 1000 or even 100 recipients then you should use what is called a bulk email service. This is the most effective way to get your email to your target recipients and to ensure that you are protecting your business from getting blacklisted. Internet service providers and servers that maintain blacklists are trained to recognize emails sent from bulk email services as legitimate, and you will not be blacklisted when sending through one, no matter how many emails you end up firing off.

Our bulk email service of choice is Constant Contact. This is an excellent web-based service that not only allows you to safely and effectively reach a large number of clients via email, it has superior tracking and reporting features that will help you see how effective your email campaign strategies, and give you the tools to refine and make improvements. They also provide easy to use email templates in order to design elegant, attractive emails.

SPF Records

SPF records are additional DNS entries that allow receiving servers (if SPF checking is enabled) to confirm that the mail you sent came from where it was supposed to. This ensures that scammers cannot fake your email addresses (called Spoofing) because the receiving server will see the mail, recognize it came from an unfamiliar place, and will not pass it on to the user.

The flip side of these records is that if you are using a third party bulk mailing service and do not have an SPF record configured for that service as well, the emails are very likely to be quarantined by spam filters as it recognizes your email address coming from an unrecognized server.

Stay tuned. In upcoming articles we will be reviewing best practices for using email to help grow your business.