Best Practices for Bulk Email Senders

Whether you’re using a third party application or building your own bulk email system, there are a few critical list management tasks your mailer should be able to handle.  These best practices will help you maintain a favorable SMTP IP reputation and ensure the best delivery rates possible for your campaigns.

No matter how fresh or how clean you think your list is, sooner or later you’re going to have some bounces, ie addresses that reject your messages for one reason or another.  Sending to addresses that bounce over and over is not good practice.  In particular, ISPs take note of IP addresses that repetitively send to non-existent mailboxes and eventually throttle or block mail from those IPs.  That’s where bounce management comes in. Simply put, bounces must be removed from your list(s). If you’re purchasing an application, look for one that automatically processes bounce removals on a regular schedule.

Complaints from recipients at major ISPs like AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail are a fact of life in email marketing.  Even the tightest double opt-in list is going to have some spam complaints.  In case you’re not aware of how the ISP complaint system works, each time a user at a major ISP clicks the ‘Spam’ button, a feedback report is generated and sent back to the email service provider or ESP responsible for sending the email.   Addresses that report your messages as spam must be removed from your list(s). Similar to bounce processing, feedback report processing ensures that you’re not sending to recipients who don’t want to receive your messages.

The law requires that you provide clear instructions for list recipients to unsubscribe from your mailings.  This means you could simply include a message at the bottom of your email asking unsubscribers to email you with a subject that includes the word ‘Unsubscribe’. However, best practice is to always include a one-click unsubscribe link somewhere in your email.  One-click means exactly what it says.  No additional checkboxes to select or buttons to click.  After the link is clicked, a page should display in the user’s browser informing them that their email address has been unsubscribed.

While this is just the tip of the iceberg in email marketing and deliverability, having these best practices in place in your email system from the get go will give you the solid foundation you need to reach the inbox. If you’re outsourcing the SMTP component of your email application, adhering to these best practices will help ensure a lasting relationship with your SMTP hosting provider.