Bulk Email Marketing Tips – The most cost effective Mass Mailing Solutions

Sending out email to thousands, tens or even hundreds of thousands of recipients can be a very effective way to get new business, keep existing clients thinking about you, and bringing repeat business back. Before you can even consider what your mailing should say or look like, what offer(s) you want to make to recipients, how often to send them out, or any of the other “time of mailing” issues, you need to first find the most cost-efficient way to send the email out. Then you need to know how you’re supposed to determine the effectiveness of the mailing.

In the age of spam, there are definitely right and wrong ways, as well as very efficient and also very costly ways as well.

Bulk Email – A Brief History

When the concept of sending out large amounts of email to lists of recipients first emerged in the early days of the Internet, the earliest solutions came from software that allowed you to set up and send your mailings from the comfort of your own computer. There were no limits on the size of the lists, what should or should not have been included, or any rules about what qualified as spam.

That was because spam didn’t exist as a concept until those first solutions really gained in popularity. Combine software that lets you send out tens or hundreds of thousands of email messages at one time with mailing lists provided to you where you personally had no prior contact with the recipient, let alone knew whether they had any desire to receive your mailing, and spam was born.

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Government Regulation

As the problem grew severe, the U.S. Government stepped in and in 2003 issued the CAN SPAM act. This regulation stipulates several requirements that email must follow in order to not be deemed as spam.

The problem with this of course, is one of enforcement and compliance oversight. There are just too many originators of email, and too little willingness on the part of mailers or too little knowledge of the rules.

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Industry Self Regulation

So in recent years, the major service providers including Microsoft, Google, AOL, Yahoo and others, stepped it up and began writing software to specifically look for email that would potentially be considered spam according to their own corporate view. Smaller mail server owners also got into it as well. And if any of them deem that an email coming from your mail server is spam, you can now see your mail server “black listed”. Meaning that from that point forward, either temporarily, or permanently, any email from that same source would be blocked. Regardless of whether it is spam or not.

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Why Not Manage The Service Yourself?

Why not just get your own mail servers? Or pay your current Web Hosting or Web Site Developer to let you use their servers? Or use one of the top ten Free Email Providers services?

Setup, Maintenance and Compliance Costs

Setting up your own mail servers is proably not the most cost efficient means of sending out regular mailings to large volumes of recipients any more. Between the costs of the hardware, software and IT infrastructure both in initial costs as well as ongoing, plus having to set your system up so that every mailing complies with the CAN-SPAM act as well as the ever changing rules of the major ISPs, it’s too cost-inefficient.

Outgoing Email Limits To GMail, MSN, Yahoo Mai, AOL Mail, Comcast, RoadRunner…

Every major service provider allows you to set up mailing lists, but they all now “meter” or “throttle” your alloted mailing capacity. This means that if you try to send one email to more than 10 or 15 or 25 recipients at one time, their systems will often obliterate the email after the first X recipients.

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The Answer – Compliance Based Mass Mailing Solution Providers

In order to help resolve the problem of legitimate business owners having their mailings trigger blacklisting flags, service providers have cropped up recently where their sole or primary function is to give you the ability to set up mailings, maintain mailing lists, and send out mass email, while ensuring your mailings comply with the CAN SPAM act regulations as well as the anti-spam policies of the major service providers.

Two of these that I routinely recommend to my clients are Constant Contact and Vertical Response.

I manage many of these accounts on behalf of my clients, and have trained several others in a very short time-frame how to manage it themselves.

Constant Contact, among other similar service providers, does one thing as their primary business. Mass Email Campaigns. Some of my clients have upwards of 50,000 to 60,000 subscribers. With Constant contact and Vertical Response, these top clients send out as many as one or two mailings every week, without problems.

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They Do All The Heavy Lifting For very low fees

Constant Contact does all the work – and when you send out a mailing, their system sends it out in batches. Every mailing implements every single requirement to comply with the CAN SPAM act and meets all the top providers guidelines. When those guidelines change, it’s seamless to you, and you don’t have to do anything different.

So for one small monthly fee, you can send out as many mailings as you’d like. (Although it is not wise to ever send out more than perhaps two mailings a week – one a week being ideal from both safe-best practices as well as ideal brand building)

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Effortless List and Campaign Management

You can split your list into multiple groups, and every time a mailing goes out you can not only see how many people got the email, but how many opened it, how many clicked on each link in the email itself, anyone that unsubscribes does so from within the email and the lists are updated automatically. You can see how many formerly good email addresses are now bad, and so much more…

It’s infinitely more cost effective and prudent to use such services.

Constant Contact and Vertical Response have different pricing models, but otherwise both are highly effective and offer both pre-designed mailing wizards as well as the ability to create completely custom email.

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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7 Comments

  1. John Murphy says:

    Another option to consider if email deliverability is high on your requirements is ReachMail.com I work at ReachMail and we have all of the deliverability tools built in including your own IP address, delivery monitoring and blacklist alerts. We’re also lower cost.

  2. John

    I’m always on the lookout for better solutions for my clients. How is ReachMail.com lower cost than ConstantContact.com? Your site’s pricing page lists the cost of sending 10,000 email messages a month at $109.95 per month whereas Constant Contact charges $150 a month for up to 10,000 addresses but you can send as many email messages as you want to that list in one month.

    So if you send out one newsletter a week, that’s the equivalent of sending 40,000 addresses for $150 a month at CC, but at ReachMail, it would cost $349.95.

    If I’m missing something here please let me know

    Alan

  3. Kirsty Hughes says:

    Hi Alan, thanks for your useful article. I produce email campaigns on behalf of clients, using New Zealand-based compliant bulk email providers (like Smartmail and Mailprimer); I’m a reseller and a big advocate for their services. But I do get a LOT of questions from people running their own lists and servers (using things like ListServe or even just Outlook) about ISPs current and future treatment of their bulk sends. Yahoo!Xtra deliver about 60% of the emails in New Zealand, but I’ve found it (so far) impossible to find anyone here who can tell me about their bulks sending policy, or even about their DomainKeys and dedicated IP application processes. Any tips on how to get information like this out of the ISPs? Or have you found a website that contains any of this information (for example, the outgoing email limits).

  4. Kirsty

    If you are trying to learn what rules Yahoo or any major ISP has for detecting spam, you’re going to continue to be hard pressed to learn the answer. While major ISPs are all hoping to have an established set of benchmarks that says “this is spam”, the actual methods used on the internal server level are typically considered proprietary unless they use an open source solution, and even then, the big players would most likely either modify the open source technology or supplement it in some secret way, simply because they don’t want spammers to find holes in the system.

    The other fact to remember is that spammers are always trying to find workarounds so the ISPs, no matter what their policy was yesterday, will always attempt to improve their detection methods today, in the hopes of a more secure tomorrow. And let’s not forget that every provider has their own methods – some overlay other ISP policies, some are unique to each ISP.

    I think what it comes down to is not how they handle and treat header identity such as through Domain Keys, or whether they use a comparison to their own database of open relay flagged domains (the way ORDB.org used to), but instead – what are the best practices for someone who runs mail servers?

    It’s always my opinion that whether it’s the IT staff that maintains the mail servers, or the marketing team responsible for the content of the email – if they’re not following industry best practices, they’re leaving themselves vulnerable to being blocked.

    To this end I would suggest exploring MAAWG (The Messaging Anti Abuse Working Group). They’re made up of some of the biggest players including Yahoo, AOL, Verizon, AT&T, Google, McAfee, Symantec, Microsoft and about a hundred other message handling (web, email, mobile) organizations on a global scale.

    They have a number of best practices documents online at
    http://www.maawg.org/about/publishedDocuments

    Hope this helps!

    Alan

  5. Kirsty,

    Just to add to my answer – regarding outgoing email limits – contacting tech support at a particular service provider should give you that providers current policy. Most have a maximum for simultaneous as well as per hour sends. Typically this would be 20 – 50 at a time, or 500 per hour, or some mix. Again though, ISPs can and do change their policies when it suits them and they don’t contact all of their clients in advance.

  6. jack parler says:

    Very nice information. Thanks for this. You are a very good blogger. I look forward to reading more information from you.

  7. Every day I am more amazed about online marketing due to observing the way in which the youger generations communicate with the outside world with technology. My 12 year old daughter just showed me a web system they had developed to manage areas of interest for their peer group. They needed to know how to generate advertising on the website to generate revenue. We are very happy.

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