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semi-bulk email software - what do you use ?


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We use a shared server and have the same problems as many like us with emails not being delivered as it is seen as possible spam.

What pc installed software is suggested to use to send out out emails to out mailing list but allows us to customise each email to the user.  The only few differences is the greeting text (Hi.. John) and the unsubscribe link that contains their email address and a hash that is stored on our server so we know that it is most likely them wanting to be removed.  The emails are all in HTML (tabled) format.

Please suggest what programs you use.

Thank you

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20 hours ago, requinix said:

No "programs". Use a third-party service.


You can find these described in a few different ways.  Here's an article for you to get you kickstarted on looking into them:  https://www.isitwp.com/smtp-transactional-email-services/

Depending on your volume, some of these services have a free tier, but depending on the amount of email you are creating you might need to pay for them.  One benefit that most of them have is access to the types of log information that you would otherwise need to be a sysadmin for.

Some have programmatic api's and some you just configure smtp-to-smtp, so you don't even have to change your current code or setup, other than to configure your MTA.  Since you stated you are on a shared server, you probably don't have any option to mess with the MTA, so you'll likely have to reconfigure.

There are also full maillist SAAS providers like Mailchimp or Constant Contact that are specifically built to offload email list services.  This may or may not be something worth looking at for you.  

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There are around 500 in the list. We are currently using the server to send out emails, one every minutes (cron job).  The issue is that a lot of them return due to possible spam.  I have the email sent using the actualy email login and tls.  But as with shared servers it gets added to block lists a lot.

Sometime ago we used a few of the free email services but a lot of them have their advertising in which we wanted to do with out, so opted for the method we have now.

I have a custom link in the email so they can quickly unsubscribe.  But looking as mailchimp and a few others none allow for custom stuff like that from what I read.

I was wondering if ther is a config issue from our end that might cause it to be seen as spam, which it is not as they subscribed to it in the first place.

as for MTA the server uses a system called relay.mailchannels.net


Now if I was to send the email manually from my computer exact content as the automated one sent from the noreply address it goes through fine.  So I understand it is the servers IP that is the issue.  Is there a way to have the email sent like it was sent from my pc ?

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You really should go for a paid service. Many of them bill based on volume and usage, not on a monthly or annual basis. Consider what it will cost you just trying to maintain all this email stuff.

If you must do it yourself then you need to get a dedicated server/IP address and set up SPF and DKIM records for your domain. You also need to stay on top of your bounce rate to make sure that doesn't get you (temporarily) blacklisted.

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Setup of the email takes no more than a few minutes.  My host has already set up SPF and DKIM.  As for bounce rate one bounce and I have to manually check the returned email to decide if the customers email address (if exists still) will get any more emails.  Out of the 500 ish subscribers we might get 2 or 3 that come back as no longer found as the employee does not work for that company anymore.

The ones that I am worried about are the 20 or 30+ that come back and not delivered due to spam score rating.  They are completely random and not the same customer email.  Otherwise it would be that these customers are marking it as such.

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Could be them marking as spam. Make sure your unsubscribe link is obviously visible at the bottom of the email. Consider disabling the recipients and sending them a one-time "are you still there" notification.

For comparison, a spam rate of 5 in 500 is high.

Note that spam and bounce reporting is another thing paid services offer.

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I thought that at first but there is a large unsubscribe link (three times the size of other text) which is why I placed it on a line of its own at the bottom of the email.  The length of the email is never more than one standard screen length.

I manually sent the mailshot from my pc to a few that bounced back as it was thought to be spam and the person got it.  We even contacted a few of them by phone to see if they were filtering any email but no one is.  But still it does not explain why say 20 fail one time and another ten fail yet another time, rarely two return from the same email address.

Just a thought...

So if the server was to auto send out say 100 and a number of them returned undelivered due to it might be spam, should I stop there and then from sending out any more from that batch to be sent and wait a short time before resuming to prevent some of the rest from being seen as possible spam?

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Aside from the things Requinix listed, another thing that influences spam scoring is having a valid reverse DNS.  

Here's a list of some services you can use to check your rep:  https://sendgrid.com/blog/5-ways-check-sending-reputation/.  You also have to make sure your domain and your MTA IP is not on a RBL.

The reality is that sending email from a Shared server is only as reliable as the worst client they have had on the server, or your ISP, depending on how email works for you with your hosting company.    

The other issue is that some systems may consider your emails to be spammy.  Most analysis works on a scoring system, so if your emails are getting rejected outright as spam, that tells you something.  Throttling isn't going to help you improve your score, and depending on the server you are communicating with, getting help with finding out how and why you are being rejected may be next to impossible for you.  This is another reason to use a commercial email delivery company, since it's their business to insure delivery of client emails, and they have paid staff to correspond with sysadmins of major email systems.



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