Make your email messages count!
It's no secret that the mass delivery of emails can be affected by a number of issues, which may or may not be in your control. There are steps you can take to increase the effectiveness of delivery.
Good email addresses
Making sure your email database is clean is one of the first and most important things you can do to ensure good email delivery. Use the Bad Phone/Email report for the accounts flagged by Blackboard for having bad emails addresses.
Some bad email address are clear to find because they do not conform to standards, such as [email protected], bob.yahoo.com, and [email protected], which are all missing information. Other bad addresses are harder to identify. These are address that are properly formed, but are undeliverable for other reasons. To find these addresses, analyze the bounce report that is returned to you when you send a message. These addresses can bounce emails for a wide range of reasons - the account can be suspended, a user's inbox can be too full, or the address may no longer exist.
Whenever you receive a returned message because of a bad email address, work with parents, students, and staff to resolve the problem.
The text and images you include in your messages may increase the chances that your email is flagged as possible spam. Spam filters look for elements common to many spam messages including:
- Lots of images with little text
- Messages with frequent words in all caps
- Keywords and key phrases like "Free!", "from our partners", and even "Dear <someone's name>"
When writing a message, ask the following questions:
- What will this message look like in the preview pane in someone's email client?
- What will their email provider think of this message in the two seconds they take to look at it?
Email blacklists are often difficult to be removed from, so it is easier to stay off them by avoiding spam-like content.
Improve email delivery
As a way to increase successful email deliveries, your school district may need to make changes to your district email servers and district DNS servers. Updating your Sender Policy Framework and DNS servers authorizes the Blackboard email servers to send messages on your district's behalf, which prevents messages from being rejected or flagged as spam by the email services used by parents and students.
The Sender Policy Framework (or SPF) may be used to let email service providers know that you have authorized Blackboard to send emails on behalf of your district or school. Add the following information to your district's SPF record:
A typical SPF record might look like this:
v=spf1 mx include:_spf.bbnotify.net ~all
You can configure district and school email servers to accept messages addressed within your district that actually originate from Blackboard email servers. Some email servers will use the SPF record to allow these messages, while others require that the Blackboard mail servers be manually listed in the DNS records. Here are the current IP addresses of the Blackboard mail servers:
Details about the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) can be found here:
- http://www.openspf.org (archived version)
If you have questions, contact Blackboard Support at [email protected] or 800-829-8107.
On the Blackboard side
Blackboard monitors its delivery efficiencies to ensure the delivery of your district's and schools emails.
Reverse DNS records are an additional way for a mail client to verify the authenticity of a message sender. Reverse DNS uses the connecting information from the sender's server and verifies this against the host the message. So, if the email header says the message is from google.com, but the server links back to a yahoo server, the message will receive a high spam rating. To help ensure your email delivery, Blackboard has configured its mail servers' to support reverse DNS lookups.
Email Reputation Services
Many email providers use a third-party monitoring service to assist them in identifying email abusers. These sender reputation services assign a score to mail servers that deliver messages. This information is used to allow providers to delay or stop message delivery from abusive mail servers. Blackboard monitors its mail servers reputations very closely to maintain an excellent reputation with these services.