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How do I keep bulk emails from getting caught by spam filters?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Anyone at Stanford can send an email to a large list of Stanford email addresses from a Stanford email account and the email will be delivered properly. However, when sending emails to a large group of Stanford email addresses using a third party service, like a survey website, the email delivery might be blocked by spam and security filters.

You can enlist the help of University IT (UIT) to add the sender address or domain to an approved sender list so that Stanford spam and security filters don’t prevent delivery of your legitimate email. And, by following some simple formatting guidelines, you can likely avoid problems with non-Stanford spam filters blocking your legitimate email.

Preparing Stanford spam filters

With advance notice of your plan to send such an email, UIT can ensure that your email message isn't flagged by Stanford’s spam and other security scans, and is delivered successfully to Stanford email addresses.

To request UIT’s help to deliver your bulk email successfully, submit a Help request that contains the following information:

  • Sender address or domain.
  • Date the email will be sent.
  • Subject line of the email.

By enlisting UIT’s help, it’s important to note:

  • Delivery of your email is enabled for a two week window of time.
  • Emails sent to non-Stanford addresses are not guaranteed delivery by this service as they are not managed by UIT.

Avoiding other spam filters

Non-Stanford email addresses may also have spam and security filters that might route your email to the recipient’s spam folder. These filters scan emails looking for content that is likely to be included in spam, rather than in a person-to-person email.

To minimize the chances of having your legitimate email get caught in these filters, follow some best practices as described below:

  • Links
    • Use links with domain names, not IP addresses. For example, use and not
    • Link only to websites that are reputable.
    • Do not abbreviate URLs to mask the destination of the link. For example, use and not https://gotomylink.
  • Content
    • Use a personalized greeting whenever possible.
    • Use conversational language.
  • Formatting
    • Avoid using excessive punctuation, especially exclamation points and question marks.
    • Do not capitalize entire words or sentences, such as TAKE THE SURVEY NOW!
    • Do not put spaces between each letter of a word, such as W e l c o m e.

Another tip: If you know in advance that you’ll be sending a bulk email to a group, especially if the email will come from a third party service, tell your recipients to be on the lookout for the email and to check their spam folders if they don’t receive the email as expected.

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