Sending Legitimate Bulk Email

This is for all those people who are trying to run a web business that need to send bulk email messages and don’t want them to go directly into their recipients’ spam folders.

Yesterday, I (and several others) dedicated several hours to the task of determining why every email we sent went directly into the spam folders of those we were trying to reach. When you search Google for information about spam filters, you find plenty of information about blocking unwanted email, but hardly anything about making sure your legitimate bulk email is not discarded with the trash. We were able to solve our issues, and so I thought I’d share our findings with the community.

  • Send only plain text. Attachments and HTML content raise flags with content filters.
  • Set the message header: “Precedence: bulk”
  • You must set a subject, body, from address, and reply-to address (not having reply-to was my problem

In addition, if you are hosting your own mail server you should:

  • Publish an SPF record in your DNS configuration
  • Configure your MTA to and DNS to use DKIM. (Acronyms FTW!)

I hope this info is helpful to someone. I wish I had it.


2 thoughts on “Sending Legitimate Bulk Email

  1. Good post. WE have many thousands of folks that we send bulk email (newsletters) to and I’ve found that it’s worth the $xyz we pay per month to be able to send HTML emails through a bulk mailing company (like AEWeber or ConstantContact). IMO, text emails (1) suck to receive as they are boring, and (2) suck in terms of CTR (especially when compared to the HTML experience.

    If you and your team spent “several hours” determining the problem and then, I’d guess, at least one hour with this post – how much time was that? 10 man hours? 20? That’s a lot of money… I would think it would be worth the $50/month or whatever you have to pay to send bulk through a dedicated service (plus you don’t have to worry about server spikes affecting other sides of the biz).

    Anyway, enjoyed the post and it’s good to hear of another Dallas tech startup (I run one as well!). Best of luck to you!

  2. Thanks for the post. Using a paid service is not always an option. This article does help.

    However, not using HTML (for marketing purpose) is not an option as most recipients would not give importance to text only messages.

    Yahoo’s bulk mail filters are strange. I sent a mail to myself from my yahoo account and it promptly ended up in the bulk folder. Yahoo does have a process (fill out an online form) to help if your mails end up in Yahoo spam forlder. Not sure how helpful that is though.

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