Bulk email is an extremely powerful tool to have in your marketing arsenal. You can dramatically extend your reach and drive lead generation sky-high, but many marketers are wary of sending bulk email the wrong way and getting flagged as spammers.
If you want to send bulk email without spamming (or being flagged as a spammer anyway), there are a number of factors to consider. Finding a thorough, understandable explanation can be difficult.
We’ve put together a guide to help you succeed with your bulk email campaigns.
How to Send Bulk Email Without Spamming: A Definitive Guide
The factors you need to be aware of can be separated into three categories:
- Technical factors such as IP and domain reputation, SPF and DKIM records.
- Email content and design factors such as wording, links, attachments and images.
- Recipient engagement factors such as open rate, clicks, and spam reports.
We’ll address each of these categories and show you exactly what to watch out for and how to make sure your emails hit the inbox – and you stay safe from being flagged.
We will also show you an email software platform that takes care of many of these factors automatically for you, making it easy to send bulk email without spamming.
IP and domain reputation are crucial to successfully sending bulk email. This is a metric that your Internet Service Provider assigns to each IP and domain you use to send email. It’s based on many factors, such as the number of emails you send, your emails’ bounce and unsubscribe rates, and more.
For example, if you send to a large list of contacts and most of the emails hard bounce, and many of those that get through result in unsubscribes or spam complaints, your IP and domain reputation scores will plummet, and your future emails are much more likely to land in the spam folder (or get blocked entirely).
The quality of your contact list is absolutely critical to successful bulk emailing. Make sure you get your lists from reputable data providers, and have it independently checked and verified before sending to those contacts.
Another important factor is SPF records (Sender Policy Framework). An SPF record is part of a domain’s DNS (Domain Name Server) zone file. It’s a list of authorized hostnames or IP addresses that an email can originate from for that domain name.
When a mail server receives an email, it checks for many different sender signals. Two key ones are the sending address and the reply-to address.
If the sending address and the reply-to address don’t match up, this will cause many spam filters and mail security programs to trigger.
If you’re sending bulk email using a specialized email software, the reply-to address you’ve configured may not match the sending address the software uses.
A properly-configured SPF record tells the receiving mail server that, for example, Clickback is allowed to send email on behalf of your address, so the spam filters ignore the discrepancy between the sender and reply-to addresses.
For more detailed information, see How to Set Up SPF Records Using Clickback.
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a more complicated topic. In a nutshell, it’s a protocol designed to detect forged sender addresses (email spoofing). It attaches a digital signature (which is linked to the domain name) to the outgoing email message.
A valid signature also guarantees that some parts of the email have not been modified since the signature was affixed.
The recipient system can verify the DKIM signature against the existing email content, and if the content is different from what was included in the signature, the DKIM check fails.
A failed DKIM check is a major red flag for spam filters.
You also need a functioning unsubscribe option in the email. It needs to be accessible to the recipient. Not only is it a requirement, but if your unsubscribe link is not easily visible, people are likely to report your email as spam anyway.
Email Content and Design
The actual content and design of your email plays a large role in determining whether it passes spam checks. There are certain trigger words that increase the chances that your email will end up in the spam folder, particularly when used in the subject line.
For a handy guide on which words and phrases to avoid, check out HubSpot’s Ultimate List of Email Spam Trigger Words. It’s even broken down by industry.
Text in all caps is also a trigger for spam filters, as is overly large or small font size. Another potential trigger is a low text-to-image ratio. Spammers sometimes use images to communicate their message, because email clients can’t read text in an image. This means spam filters are suspicious of emails with a large image and very little text.
The same applies to links. A common spam tactic is to include a lot of links and little text. Make sure you have a good ratio of links to text. Another tip: don’t link to known spammers. If your links point to a known spammer, you’ll immediately trigger spam filters.
Avoid mismatched links as well. A common phishing technique is hiding an unsafe URL behind a legitimate-looking link. For example, they might have a link with anchor text that reads “yourbank.com/verify_your_account” that actually leads to a page that downloads malware onto your system.
To combat this, email clients will look through your email content for anchor text that is also a link, and if the text doesn’t match the URL it points to, that email can be flagged as unsafe or spam.
If your email software has the ability to report on which links were clicked and how often, your URLs are probably being replaced with tracking redirect URLs when you send the email. This enables the software to track clicks and is harmless, but it also means the URL no longer matches the anchor text, which triggers red flags.
The easy solution to this is simply not to use URLs as anchor text. Use “visit my website” instead of “mywebsite.com”, for example, and you’ll bypass this problem entirely.
The third major category of factors that impact your deliverability is how your recipients engage with your emails.
In a nutshell: if more people engage positively with your emails by opening, reading and clicking them, your deliverability will improve. If people don’t open your emails, unsubscribe or – worst of all – report it as spam, your deliverability will drop.
You can’t directly control these factors, so it’s crucial to write fantastic, engaging content. You need a compelling subject line and excellent body copy (and a punchy landing page, if you want those clicks to become conversions).
Want help crafting awesome cold emails that convert? Read our cold email copywriting guide.
Use the Best Tool for the Job
That’s a lot to keep in mind, isn’t it? Luckily, you can make it a lot more manageable by using the email lead generation software Clickback. Here’s a quick list of some time-saving features that’ll keep the spam filters happy with your emails:
- Sender Score Safeguards: When you send a bulk email campaign from Clickback, the software uses its own IPs and domains. This means that your sender reputation remains untouched.
- Contact List Verification: When you upload a list of contacts to Clickback, it runs each address through a number of rigorous filters and hygiene checks to filter out bad data and spam traps. This feature is built into the software – no need to pay for a third-party cleaning service.
- Powerful Design Tools: The email editor offers a drag-and-drop option to make it easy to make professional designs, as well as an HTML mode if you want to design your emails directly in the source code.
- Real-Time Content and Design Check: The editor also checks your content and design in real-time, looking for any words, phrases, design elements or links that could negatively impact your deliverability.
You can see it in action with a live 1-on-1 demo. Sign up here for a personalized walkthrough of the software and how it lets you send bulk email without spamming.