Drip Marketing, Marketing Automation, ActiveCampaign, Zoho

BCC: and TO: Email Is Not Free; It’s Spam

By in Email Marketing | 2 comments

Spam With BaconHard to believe, but I was actually asked this question today by a business owner who still thinks he can use Yahoo Mail for email marketing. If you, too, don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, then please read this post.

Q: We are looking for bulk email software to send one email to 1,000 contacts, plus have the ability to check emails if they bounce back, opt out or are invalid (Mailor Demon unknown). Yahoo won’t allow us to send large BCC emails. Any suggestions on software? Ideally the software should integrate with Yahoo, too.

Here’s My Answer for Sending Bulk Emails

All personal email accounts (Outlook, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc.) have a limit on how many people you can email in the TO: or BCC:

That’s because the Internet Service Provider (ISP) who hosts the account (even if it’s your company’s own hosting account) doesn’t want to be flagged as a spammer. Once tagged with that bad reputation, it’s nearly impossible to mend. And it means that NONE of your email, commercial or personal, will ever be delivered again.

The ISP has hundreds, if not thousands, of subscribers like you. Your one bulk email of 1,000 addresses, if identified as spam, has the potential to shut down *everyone*–potentially millions of emails–traveling through the ISP’s IP (the hosting address). So they limit you.

Email Just Wants To Be Free

Even though everyone knows that email is “free,” you must subscribe to an email service provider (ESP) if you want to send commercial email (even personal email in bulk quantity). An ESP typically prices its service from $15/month on up, depending on frequency and volume. (For example, sending 1,000 emails in a transmission costs less than sending 5,000). The benefit is that the ESP compiles your email results: Who opened your email, who clicked on a link, who forwarded, etc.

But it also makes all subscribers follow U.S. federal CAN SPAM requirements. It manages the opt-outs and makes sure your email templates have the proper footer identification. This is how it protects you (and the ESP) from being labeled a spammer. If you skirt these rules, the ESP will “fire” you. The well-being of the subscriber base trumps your importance as a single-subscriber revenue contributor.

The bottom line is that when you send BCC: (blind copy) or TO: mail with hundreds of email addresses showing, you are either violating federal law or deluding yourself that your email messages are actually being delivered. Plus, if you mail as a business entity, BCC: email and overstuffed TO: address lines look amateurish and piss off the people in your address book who don’t want their email address exposed to strangers.

The professional way to set up an email marketing program is to subscribe to a professional service that integrates with a contact database, like ACT! Software and Swiftpage Email. You keep customers and prospects in this database–a true database, not an address book (like Outlook) or a spreadsheet program (like Excel).

Then instead of having to work out of two software programs, the integration makes it possible for you to keep track of responders and those who opt-out right from your database. Over time, you can view all campaign results under each contact’s record, and this insight helps you make appropriate business decisions, such as which products and services are most popular and which contacts are most motivated by what you’re selling.

Like most business solutions, there is a cost of entry to email marketing, even though email itself is “free.” As inbox security tightens and future customers are less willing to receive your messages, you only get one chance to make a good impression. Don’t cheap out and ruin future customer opportunities with unprofessional BCC: and TO: transmissions.


  1. I thank you for this posting. Though, I have never wanted to send bulk e-mail for commercial reasons, I have sent them for “announcement reasons” and had them refused by the ESP.

    Recently, I have been considering e-mail marketing and found your posting insightful regarding a reasonable approach. You also have helped me realize the “homework” I need to do before I start.

    Ron Rogers

    • Ron, I appreciate your thoughts. Most people don’t think ahead on this until they get themselves in trouble: The ISP cuts you off or a customer complains or reports you as a spammer. Prevention is better than cure.

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