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Considerations when sending a bulk mailout

  knowledgebase  :: network status

A bulk email can be very useful method of informing your customers and other contacts about new events at your business. However, due to the wide prevalence of unsolicited commercial email (spam), it pays to follow several basic rules when sending a bulk mail.

You should ensure you send only to people who have requested it, this being for the following reasons:

  1. You are trying to win business, so you don't want to upset your potential customers with an unwanted message.
  2. In the UK, it is illegal to send an unsolicited commercial email (spam) to an individual who has not given you prior consent (this law does not apply if the recipient is a business, rather than an individual). You can obtain prior consent by clearly stating your intention to use an email address they supply for commercial purposes, BEFORE they supply it (this is called "opt-in").
  3. If any recipient of your mail objects to it, and his service provider (such as Yahoo, Hotmail) provides him a function to "report this email as spam", and he uses this function, you may find you are unable to send mail to anyone at that service provider - for example, anyone at Yahoo. Yahoo may block your server, rather than your domainname - if you're using a shared hosting account, this will prevent all users on any account sharing your server from sending mail to Yahoo, which may have implications for the longetivity of your hosting account.
  4. The sending of unsolicited commercial email (spam) is likely to violate the Terms of Service of your hosting account. Your hosting provider is likely to take a dim view, if reports of spamming from your account can be substantiated.

In addition, your email should:

  1. clearly state the name and contact details of your business
  2. include instructions for unsubscribing

In addition, you should:

  1. ensure your list of addresses is up-to-date - remove those who have requested removal, change those who have requested changing
  2. avoid sending many mails (more than one a month, on average, is too much)
  3. avoid merging lists of "other" addresses with your opt-in list - those "other" addresses haven't opted in, and that means the owners may be annoyed to receive your message

Failing to follow these extra details may again result in annoying the recipient, and cause them to click the 'report this email as spam' button.

There are other things to consider as well:

  1. ensure you don't accidentally re-subscribe someone who has been removed, if you re-scan your database to build your list
  2. ensure your mail does not look overly "spammy" - for example, don't send it from an email address that ends in numbers; don't use excessive amounts of exclamation marks, etc
  3. ensure you do not exceed any limits your service provider(s) may impose, for example, sending to more than a certain number of recipients in a single mail, or sending more than a certain number of messages per minute
  4. ensure you purge your list of dead addresses, otherwise you may think your list is a lot bigger than it really is

However, this last set of items usually require specialised software to accomplish, and are beyond the scope of this article. If you would like to maximise your chances of delivery, we recommend using a third-party mailing list management service.