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How to build the right contact list

Having an existing business relationship with someone doesn’t mean it’s okay to add them to your mailing list.

If you are adding people automatically, if the sign up process isn’t clear, if you are buying or renting a list many recipients will flag your email as spam simply because they don’t recognize you or didn’t want your email to begin with.

Complaints are the number one influence on your reputation so it's in your best interest to do everything you can to avoid recipients clicking the spam button.

Rules to follow

  • Get permission: Recipients must have agreed to receive your message.
  • Stay up to date: If you haven't contacted people on the list in 6 months, you should reconfirm your list before you send a campaign.
  • Let them unsubscribe: Always include a an unsubscribe link and respect any opt-out requests from other channels by removing them promptly from the contact list.

Best practices

Ask your subscribers to 'whitelist' you: You should encourage recipients to add you to their Safe Senders/Contact list or to Display the images/Enable images from this sender.

Note: The wording changes according to the email client.

Create groups: Have one master list, but create groups within it to target your messages while keeping overall list hygiene.

Should I buy, or sell a contacts list?

Never agree to sell your list! Purchased mailing lists are email addresses that have been bought from someone else for a price. Many companies contemplate buying lists as a means of gaining access to a particular group of email addresses quickly, but consent is not transferable and using these types of lists is not good marketing.

I'm thinking of renting a list to help boost my own list. Is this ok?

Rented lists are similar to purchased lists, in that the sender has no existing relationship with the recipients. These are usually used for a one-time email campaign to reach a new audience quickly. Often, the marketer never sees the actual list, but simply provides the content and is at the mercy of the list owner to send the message on their behalf.

This can result in a high bounce and/or complaint rate and the reputation being tarnished is shared between the list owner and YOU (the sender). The recipients may also feel that you are using bad marketing practices.

Regardless of who sends the email, if the content is yours, you are responsible for what others do on your behalf.