IT ServicesStaff

Email

Best practice guidelines for internal and external mailshots

Email is used as the University's primary communication channel with both staff and students, also with external contacts such as prospective students, academic partners or industrial contacts.

Occasionally, mailshots are sent to individuals, groups of individuals, mailing lists or distribution groups (all of which are slightly different things) but they end up in the Junk Email folder. This can be for many different reasons, but it's important to understand that spam/Junk filters are machines. They cannot see context and they don't generally understand nuance - if they've been told by lots of people in the past that a specific type of message is spam, then they'll process it as such.

Here are some guidelines that should reduce the risk of your message going in the Junk folder:

Limit your audience

You know what you have to say, and most likely to whom you need to send it - so don't send thousands of messages to people when a couple of hundred will do. The more recipients decide to mark your messages as Junk, the more likely it is that all your emails will end up in the Junk in future.

Never, ever, send to yourself and Bcc hundreds of individual recipients

This is a classic hallmark of spam, used for 20+ years to mask the recipient list. If you must Bcc someone, save that for personal communications. If you need to send the same message to lots of internal recipients, use the appropriate distribution group or mailing list.

TRY NOT TO PUT YOUR SUBJECT ALL IN CAPITALS!!!! (or over-punctuate).

It's known as 'shouting', it's perceived as rather rude, and the machines think it looks like Junk. The same applies to the message body - if there's a lot of sentences in capitals, your email is at risk of being classed as Junk.

Where possible, keep messages short and relevant (but not too short!).

Spam often contains very long runs of hidden, unrelated text in an attempt to bamboozle the AI/Machine Learning technologies that are used in automated filters. As a result, some filters will rank a message more highly if it contains lots of seemingly unconnected text. Additionally, sending a one-word email to hundreds of people could trigger a Junk classification.

Avoid including large numbers of web links.

Again, this is an old-time spam tactic. If you need to send out large numbers of links, consider putting them on a web page on your department's site or on a module or programme page on Learn, and send a link to that. It's also much easier to re-use the content if you've put it somewhere on the web.

Try to use distribution groups or mailing lists to contact large groups of people

In Loughborough's system, these are in the Outlook Address Book with names beginning "Dept." or "School." or detailed on the mailing lists page which can be found on the IT Services website. Each one of these is a single recipient with many members, so your message is viewed as a single message to each group/list rather than being tens-to-thousands of separate messages.

Try not to repeat yourself too frequently.

This applies to text within a message, or repeatedly sending the same thing to the same recipients over and over again.