Mass mailing procedure

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A proper mass mailing procedure is necessary to make sure the message is clear and reaches its target audiences, to avoid errors, misunderstandings, complaints, GDPR or other legal issues.

Keep in mind: every communication is an opportunity to get trust from your audience.

General procedure[edit]

  • Prepare the content of the message (please take multiple days, invite others to write and verify, use a Google Doc to prepare)
  • Determine the target audience
  • Choose the format and channel(s)
  • Choose a proper structure
  • Choose a good timing (closely related to the subject; not just before, during, or after holiday periods; not at busy moments)
  • Do send the message timely (depending on the subject or activity)

Quality check[edit]

  • Completeness of the message
  • Right sequence of statements
  • Did you cover all possibilities?
  • No conflicting statements?
  • Clear message?
  • Keep it easy, don't use uncommon or difficult words (not everyone uses a native language)
  • Correct, no errors, no confusion, trust (content, language, typing errors)
    • No privacy issues
    • Did you target correctly by language? (user likes to be addressed in their mother tongue)
    • Don't be technical
    • Verify all (language dependent) URLs
  • Consistent layout
  • Select the right audience
    • You might need to filter/remove geographic-top domains for specific Belgian subjects (e.g. tax exemption)?
    • Possibly apply other filters (make sure you reach the correct target audience, and don't rely on "collateral damage" spam, confusing, or unnecessary messages)



Preferably from: Put everyone in BCC (privacy; extremely important!).


Proper identification of Wikimedia Belgium NPO. There are strict legal requirements. Use a logo if possible or convenient. Make sure standard e-mail footers are activated (from the e-mail server).


Pay attention to language-sensitive URLs (suffixes, translation).


Use UTF-8 HTML encoding (properly handle accents).

When using a two-column table, make sure the columns are equally long, and aligned top.


  • Proper signature
  • Include a message like: (translated by language)

The Wikimedia logos are the property of the Wikimedia Foundation. You are receiving this message because you have indicated that you would like to be kept informed about our activities. Please reply if you do not wish to receive further messages.

Distribution list[edit]

  • Are you sure you can use the distribution list?
  • Did you take the latest version?
  • Did you systematically unsubscribe refused addresses?
  • Can you possibly target the message by community? (split the body text in variants)
  • Split by language
  • Sort for easy handling of reply mail (duplicates, removal or updating of addresses)
    • You might later resend and adapted message with a subset of the recipients (reminder, ...)
    • Do not send reminder messages to people that already reacted
    • Send a reminder to participants of the activity shortly before the event starts

Technical pitfalls[edit]

  • You can copy/paste from the web page (newsletter)
    • Start with an empty email (do not reuse a previous message)
  • With Google Suite you can only send an e-mail to a maximum of 500 recipients
    • Split your distribution list if needed (use the option "Resend this message" for subsequent messages)
  • Pay attention to accents (use UTF-8 encoding)
  • Be careful to have a proper HTML encoding and layout

Final check[edit]

  • Is it the right from address (info@ or other)?
  • Everyone in BCC (privacy)?
  • No more than 500 recipients?
  • Title?
  • Signature?
  • No other possible errors?


  • Addresses being served via a server will instantly reply "out of office" messages
  • Addresses served via IMAP will only return "out of office" messages when the user connects to the server
  • People might opt-out (this is not possible for member-related messages because we have the legal obligation to communicate to all our members for statutory reasons).
  • People might have questions, or remarks about the message
  • Remove failing addresses (user, domain)
  • Users may always unsubscribe from the newsletter

See also[edit]