To me, the real question isn’t “Why are your emails to the U.S. bouncing?”
The real question is, “Why do your emails to Australian addresses work?”
Let me explain why I look at it that way.
BCC is good for some things
BCC (Blind Carbon Copy), the ability to send an email to someone without their email address appearing in the header, is useful for many things.
- It’s a great way to make sure your boss is included on an email to someone else, without that someone else seeing that you’ve done so.
- It’s a great way to protect recipients from exposing their email addresses to one another, or to spammers — for example, when forwarding humor.
Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to send spam.
BCC is not good for lots of recipients
Sending the same email once to 50 recipients is a lot easier than sending 50 individual emails. Sending that email using BCC — including all 50 recipients on the BCC line, so they can’t see each others’ email addresses — seems like a polite and sensible thing to do.
The problem is, spammers do this. As a result, long BCC lines, or the same message going to multiple BCC’ed recipients on the same destination service (say five of your 50 are all @hotmail.com email addresses), are a couple of the many factors considered when judging whether or not your email is likely to be spam.
To me, 50 is excessive. I’m surprised your local email delivery succeeded without problems; I’d expect some of those recipients to have flagged your email as spam. It’s possible they did, but you didn’t hear about it, since all that happened was your email was placed in a spam folder without a bounce notification back to you.
The detail that matters
If I send you a message using BCC, you receive a message that is not addressed to you. I may put myself in the “To:” line, or I might put a different email address in the “To:” line. Naturally, the “From:” line contains my email address.
But your email address is nowhere to be seen.
That’s a mark against the message when it comes to evaluating spam.
Now, it’s important to realize it’s not all-or-nothing. Using BCC doesn’t automatically mean your email will be treated as spam. It’s just one factor — perhaps even a small one — of hundreds used in aggregate to make a measured guess as to whether or not a message is spam.
So right now, we have three possible strikes against your message:
- It uses BCC.
- It’s going to “a lot” of email addresses all at once (as seen by the sending server).
- It may be going to “several” email addresses on the same domain all at once (as seen by the recipient domain’s mail server).
When you started sending overseas, that added one more strike:
- It’s coming from another country (as seen by the recipient email server).
It’s possible you were on the bubble, and that last point was enough to push you over for some number of your recipients.
The right solution
The right solution is to send 50 individual emails, each explicitly addressed “To:” one of your recipients.
That’s a lot of work to do yourself. Fortunately, there’s software for that: mailing list software. This is the same kind of software I use to send my newsletter to nearly 60,000 readers each week.
When my newsletter is sent, the service sends 60,000 individual emails. Each message stands on its own, each is explicitly sent “To:” one recipient, and no BCC is used at all.
That’s my recommendation as the “right” solution: use a mailing list service for anything over 10 to 20 recipients that you plan to email regularly. The other alternative that might be worth considering, depending on your situation, is a Yahoo! or Google group. While this often exposes members to one another, these services are also set up to distribute email messages to large numbers of members.
The email address you’re sending from matters. The email domain (the @hotmail.com part) matters the most.
One characteristic of spam — and in turn a mark against you — is if email claims to be “From:” one address, but it’s being sent by mail servers completely unrelated to that address. For example, my email newsletter comes “From:” my email address @askleo.com, but it’s being sent by email servers @aweber.com. That’s a strike against me.
In my case, it’s a strike I can avoid by also saying elsewhere, “Aweber.com is allowed to send email on behalf of askleo.com.”2
If you’re sending from an email address on a free service, like yahoo.com, you don’t have the ability to make that kind of statement. Further, the owners of some domains — again, specifically, yahoo.com — can say “If you see email from a Yahoo.com email address that’s not coming from a yahoo.com server, treat it like spam.” What this means is that you can’t easily use mailing list services if you’re attempting to send “From:” a free email address.
The solution here — again, if you plan to do this regularly and find you’re sending “from” a domain that has this issue, like yahoo.com — is to get your own domain. Just as I own “askleo.com”, you can own “yourveryowndomainname.com”. When you do so, the email services you use can help you permit them to send email on your behalf, and not have it seen as a strike against you.