Malta: How To Send Bulk Email Without Being Blacklisted?

Last Updated: 19 September 2016

Authored by Casper Manes.

Has this ever happened to you: your phone rings, and it's one of your executives screaming because a mail he or she sent to a customer bounced back with a Non-Delivery Report, the dreaded NDR? Just as you hang up your phone rings again about another NDR, and your cell phone beeps a text message from your monitoring system notifying that your outbound mail queue is starting to back up, and before you know it you've got a full-fledged disaster on your hands because no email is getting out. You do some digging and find out pretty quickly – you've been blacklisted. So what happened?

Well if this was the mid 90's, I'd say you had yourself on open relay on your hands, and got added to one or more of the blacklists that track those things. But you know better than that, and so that leaves your marketing department. Maybe they set up a script using blat to crank out thousands of emails to a mailing list they found/created. Or perhaps they purchased an application and are running it on their desktop to do similar things. Or they could have simply started cranking out bulk volumes of email with Word and Outlook because you don't have restrictions on send rates.

Whatever the reason, the road to heck is paved with good intentions, and when someone tries to do IT without IT's involvement, bad things can happen. You get the mess cleaned up, finally figure out how to get yourself delisted, and speak harshly to the marketing team about never doing it again. That's when they look at you and say "But we have to send out these emails. How do we do it?"

Commercial remailer services are the way to go here. There are several on the market that offer remailing services to send out newsletters, advertising, notifications, or pretty much any other bulk emailing need you may have, and there are multiple advantages to using these.

No bandwidth issues

Bulk emailing uses a lot of bandwidth, especially when attachments are included. It can use even more with replies, NDRs, unsubscribe requests, and more. If a third-party service is sending email for you, then they are using their bandwidth and can deal with all the responses, provided that you are using a subdomain instead of your primary domain. In other words, if you are @example.com, ensure that mail is send by something@subdomain.example.com and either delegate that domain to them for management, or ensure your MX for that domain resolves to their systems, not yours.

Safe from blacklists

You will still find some recipients that will blacklist the sending system. When that is a subdomain instead of your primary domain, and the IP's blocked are the third party mailer's and not yours, you can avoid all the legitimate mail being sent by your users being blocked.

Manage unsubscribe requests

Anyone sending bulk email needs to have an unsubscribe method and honor requests for removal. That can be a lot of work, so third party mailing services have this down to a science, with automatic processing. That's much easier than doing it by hand, can be done instantly, and will go a long way to keeping your customers' good will towards you.

How to get started?

What do you need to do in order to start using a third party service? There is a great blog post over at Zapier.com titled Transactional Email: The 7 Best Services to Send 1000s of Emails Daily that lists, well, the seven best services to send bulk email.

Check out that list for links to the top services, and keep in mind there are others out there too that you may want to investigate. Keep the costs in mind and speak to your colleagues from marketing, but also keep your eye out on the following features:

  • Will they send from a subdomain?
  • Will they manage DNS for that subdomain, or let you, as you prefer?
  • Do they support DKIM and DMARC?
  • Do they handle replies as well?

You want to minimize the likelihood that your business email system is going to suffer any backlash from sending outbound mails in volume through a service, and you also want to ensure that the mails, while bulk, do adhere to best practices for bulk email, and that you map them into your SPF or other DNS records so that they are not flagged for spoofing.

So if you have a need for sending bulk email, check out one of the services listed in the post linked above, and ensure you set things up on your end as well. That way, marketing can do what they need, you don't get angry phone calls, and your company email keeps flowing.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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