How do I do a mass email without triggering spam filters?

I have a huge list of alumni that I need to send emails to inviting them to an alumni event. The list is in Excel and I use Lotus Notes. There might be a small attachment of a pdf invitation.

Do I split the list up into smaller emails, or just drop all 400 addresses into the ‘bcc’ field and hit send and pray? What would trigger a junk mail filter? Is there a way to send 400 individual emails easily with lotus Notes?


I would probably contact my ISP and ask them. You don’t want to get fingered as a spammer.

You can’t be guaranteed that you won’t get caught by some spam filters, since there are so many out there (and if there was a way around spam filters, the spammers would rather obviously make use of it :slight_smile: ). Some ideas to improve your chances - use plain text (not HTML), don’t have a blank To: field (i.e. if you just try to use BCC: to stick all your recipients in a single message some filters won’t take kindly to your message), and don’t use obvious “trigger” words (money, sex, etc.). I’m sure the others can provide some other hints.

PS I assume your message will include some way to get off your mailing list!

They have to put their email on this list, so it’s approved. I’ll add my name in the to: field and plain text.

Yes. One email per recipient.

Unless all of your alumni are expecting email from you and have adjusted their spam filters accordingly, you should assume that email sent to more than one recipient, and/or bcc’d to recipients, is going to land in the trash can, unread. I’d also nix the pdf invite, and don’t use any html formatting in the email (plain text only).

I don’t know Lotus Notes and am also not good enough in Excel to write useful macros, but assuming there’s an easy way to pass a complex URL back to the OS, just create a calculation formula in a column, e.g., {assuming column A contains your email addresses in this example} “mailto:”&A1&"?Subject=invite&body=Hello, please come to the alumni event, blah blah blah" and then have your macro step down the rows executing the URL column value for each row.

If you have FileMaker, it’s effortlessly easy. Open your Excel sheet in FileMaker, create a calc field as described above, then run a script,

Open URL [that field, no dialog]
Go to Next Record [exit after last]
End Loop

Keep in mind that your question, “How do I do a mass email without triggering spam filters?”, is exactly the question that every spamfuck asks themselves every day in the process of trying to get past my spam filters. The easy answers have been tried and addressed by more formidable spam filters.

I would break the list up even more than 400 apiece if you’re going to do it that way. Our mail system our server has a “limit recipients per email” feature and I believe we have it set way lower, like 100. Maybe even double-digits.

As for the PDF invite, I agree maybe nix that. Instead can you post it to the Web somewhere, or make it a Web page and just add a link?

I have another idea, but it’d involve pimping a product I’m involved with. You can email me through here if you want to hear it.

I have found this piece of freeware very useful, stable and easy to use. We have used it for sending out our organisations email newsletter and it coped with almost 2,000 messages no problem. We use Outlook Exchange and it was a doddle to set up - other email arrangements may not be as simple.


Two things - first, my PS in the preceding message still stands; I assume you have a way for them to get off the mailing list once they are on it (I have opted out of lists that I’ve previously opted in to many times when I realize that I’m not interested in what is being sent). Second, it is entirely possible that if you don’t put the recipient’s name in the To: field the message will fall afoul of some spam filters.

I’ll second what Canadjun said. I may not delete everything I get that doesn’t include my name in the “To:” field, but it’s likely to get filtered out and I won’t notice it for days (or sometimes weeks).

If you’re going to be doing other mailings, I’d suggest starting a Yahoo Groups list. You can mail to a large number of people through the list, but each message goes out individually. I’ve done a weekly newsletter for a large midwestern athletic club for 4 years, and we had to move to Yahoo Groups exactly because our newsletter was getting flagged as spam.

One of the “issues” with Yahoo Groups is that you can generally only add 50 addresses to the list per day (just to prevent spamming). But if you have a larger list, you can e-mail it to the administrators with an explanation of why you need all loaded, and they generally will do it (since you have a non-spam reason). A nice benefit of Yahoo groups is that the people you add can opt out if they so choose.

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