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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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
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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