Q: Can I use an email program such Outlook to send bulk mail?

Quite a few clients have asked if they can run an email marketing campaign through our servers using an email program like Microsoft Outlook. The main thing to note is that email accounts provided by our hosting company, Rackspace, are not really to be used for sending out bulk emails. Although it is technically possible this method is not recommended for several reasons:

  1. You may breach Rackspace’s terms of service
  2. It’s more error-prone and therefore the results are unreliable.
  3. There is no way to gather metrics such as view and click-through statistics.
  4. There is a risk of getting your domain blacklisted as a spam sender by ISPs. Once you’re on the blacklists, some or all of your email accounts will keep ending up in the recipient’s spam filters. It may be very difficult to get off the blacklists.

However, many of our clients are small and micro-business who send out nowhere near the levels of bulk mail as many larger corporations. I’ve therefore contacted Rackspace to ask what are the allowable limits under their Rackspace Cloud service. Based on their reply, you should be safe if you:

  • Send no more than 250 messages per 20 min
  • Send no more than 5,000 messages per day
  • Include an unsubscribe link in the messages (and act on the request)
  • Send only to people who’ve given you permission to contact them about this

Nevertheless, I recommend that you a dedicated bulk emailing service to send to your distribution lists. The catch is that there’s a fee and the legitimate ones are very strict with how you’ve gathered the email addresses. (They won’t allow you to send to people who haven’t given you their permission.) However, the messages are more professional and you’ll be able to track statistics such as the number of emails that have been opened, unsubscribed or bounced.

We use such a system and if you’re interested, I’ll be happy to put together a quotation for you. As a rough idea, our profile of clients tend to average approximately £10 per campaign to use the system.

For your reference, Rackspace have a Knowledge Center article that states the following:

If your application is going to be sending out single messages (or less than 25 messages at a time), we highly suggest using SMTP. SMTP is a better option for sending out small amounts of mail. If you have questions on configuring your application to use SMTP, please visit with a member of our support team.
On the other hand, you may need to use our mail relays if your application will be sending out messages to a larger mailing list. If that’s the case, please review the following rules for sending messages through our mail relays:
1. Your message must have a working unsubscribe link, which must be demonstrated to us upon request.
2. The message must have a valid Return Path. This means the message must have a valid from address listed in the message.
3. The message of the email can only refer to the domain the message is being sent from. This means “DomainA.com” cannot send messages for “DomainB.com.”
4. You must obtain Rackspace Site’s advance approval for any bulk or commercial e-mail, which will not be given unless you are able to demonstrate, at a minimum, that your intended recipients have given their consent to receive e-mail via some affirmative means, such as an opt-in procedure, your procedures for soliciting consent include reasonable means to ensure that the person giving consent is the owner of the e-mail address for which the consent is given, you retain evidence of the recipient’s consent in a form that may be promptly produced on request, and you honor the recipient’s and Rackspace Site’s requests to produce consent evidence within 72 hours of receipt of the request.
5. We do not allow bulk or commercial e-mail being sent to more than five-thousand (5,000) users per day at a rate of 250 messages every 20 minutes.
6. Rackspace Sites may test and otherwise monitor your compliance with its requirements, including requesting opt-in information from a random sample of your list at any time.

Apple Mail setup

Email Setup Instructions for Apple Mail

Your Settings

If you are hosting your email with our preferred hosting company, Rackspace Cloud, the settings for your email server are as follows.
Incoming server: secure.emailsrvr.com
Outgoing server: secure.emailsrvr.com
Username: Your full email address
Password: This will be sent to you separately

Setting up a new account in Apple Mail

  1. Open Apple Mail and in the menu, click Mail > Preferences
  2. Click the Accounts setting
  3. Click the + (Create an account) button
  4. Mac Mail Accounts pane

  5. The Add Account settings will appear
  6. Mac Mail Add Accounts

  7. Enter your Full Name, Email Address and Password, then select Continue
  8. Set the Incoming Mail Server settings
  9. Account type: select IMAP
    Description: this is up to you but I suggest you enter your company name
    Incoming Mail Server: type secure.emailsrvr.com
    User Name: type your user name
    Passwrord: type your password

  10. Select Continue and if the details you entered were correct, it will take you to the Outgoing Mail Server screen
  11. Set the Outgoing Mail Server settings
  12. Description: this is up to you but I suggest you enter your company name
    Outgoing Mail Server: secure.emailsrvr.com
    Check Use only this server
    Check Use Authentication
    User Name: type your user name
    Password: type your password

  13. Select Continue and if the details you entered were correct, it will take you to the Account Summary screen
  14. Select Take account online and click Create
  15. Close the Account Settings by clicking the red close button on the top-left of the screen.

If the tests at step 7 or 9 failed, the most likely reasons are:
The user name was entered incorrectly. For example, you may have only entered the part before the @ sign. On our system, the user name is made up of the while email address. e.g. [email protected]
The password was entered incorrectly. If you copied and pasted from an email, you may have inadvertently included a space character.

Editing an existing account in Apple Mail

  1. Open Apple Mail and in the menu, click Mail > Preferences
  2. Click the Accounts setting
  3. Select the Account Information tab
  4. Mac Mail Account Information pane

  5. Set Incoming Mail Server to: secure.emailsrvr.com
  6. Under Outgoing Mail Server, click the drop-down and select Edit server list
  7. Click the + button and a new server should appear (a grey note to ‘Double-click to enter’ should appear in the Server Name column.
  8. Mac Mail Server pane

  9. Double-click it and enter: secure.emailsrvr.com
  10. Select Advanced
  11. Use these settings
  12. Set the Use default ports option
    Check Use Secure Sockets Layer
    Authentication: Password
    Enter your usual username and password

  13. Click OK
  14. Make sure secure.emailsrvr.com is set under Outgoing Mail Server
  15. Close the Mail preferences window