How to send a Newsletter without affecting your server

Today we are sharing some tips on how to send a newsletter to get traffic to your website, and doing it without bringing down your own hosting and your website on the process. You will be surprised how many times the websites have problems that are caused directly by their owners sending traffic to them.

Imagine you have a small website with low traffic. And imagine that you have a long list of clients that you want to send a newsletter for Christmas with your best wishes, and a link to your website of course. Sometimes the number of contacts on that list is way higher than the standard number of visits your website receive.

So when you decide to send your best wishes, you send thousands of people to clic and visit your website at the same time (and this is important).

In most cases, the list is not that big and the website is optimised, light and the server is capable to handle the traffic without any issues.

But sometimes everything goes wrong, and the moment you click send, your website goes down and you send all your clients to an error page, transforming your fantastic marketing plan into a Nightmare Before Christmas.

Lets see why this could happen and how to prevent it.

What could go wrong?

1.- Your website is not optimised.

If your website is heavy and take a lot of resources to load for each visitor , then the same server is going to be more limited and wont be able to handle as many visits as it suppose to.

So, please invest on optimising your website. It is important and it will cost you more money on the long run, in server costs but also in performance and conversion.

Having a slow website in 2020 is not worth it.

2. – Your list is too big.

The problem with mail newsletters is that you send too many people at the same time to the same place. It is similar to be announced on TV or any other event that will send many visits all at once to your website. The difference is that here you are the one sending the traffic, so you can do something about it.

If your list is 5.000 users and your small website is prepared to handle around 500 users per day (15k visits per month) you will think that list is not that big.

The problem is that 500 users per day normally means around 50-100 visits per hour (average numbers). And when you send your email to 5000 users, they all receive that email within the same hour, so you are asking your server to handle 100x-50x visits more on that hour than the server normally receives. That is not going to be good for any server.

3.- You are bypassing cache

What? I do not even know how to do that?!

Let me explain it (I will try to keep it low tech but if you do not know what a cache system is, check this).

By default, the cache systems on websites servers are setup to ignore the query strings on URLs. A query string on a URL is anything that goes after the ? symbol.

For example, this is a link with a query string:

The url is and the query string is ?q=wphercules
When a url like that reach your server, the cache is bypassed and the server will process the request as if there was no cache at all.

Most newsletter systems will ask (or force you) to use some strings on the links of your newsletter, so you can use that to track your visits and other stats. This is a common example of how those links look like:

Doing so, if you do not make any changes on your default cache system, you are most probably bypassing your cache system completely. And this is really important. A website server that can handle hundreds or thousands of visitors using cache, will be able only to handle 10 or 20 visitors without the cache.

Also important is try to avoid sending visitors to the dynamic part of your website. For example, your Cart. If you want to promote a product, do not send the “add to cart” button directly on the email, as that one is a dynamic one (with query strings most probably). It is much better to send them to a landing page for that product. It will also increase conversion and your server will be much more happy.

4.- You are sending an army of bots to visit your page

Ok, so yeah I send 5000 emails but I know most people won´t open the email, and only a little portion of them will click on the links, so why do I have that much traffic at once?

There is also a good reason for this to happen, and it is more and more common now.

During the past years, more and more email and antivirus companies are creating systems to prevent their users to open malicious links. And they do this with bots that visit the links and then confirm that the content is secure to their users. For example: Microsoft have a tool called Advanced Threat Protection. That tool includes a functionality that they call Safe Links.

When you send an email to a user that has activated the Safe Links protection, Microsoft will send a bot to visit all the links of the email received, and report back.

Note: it could be a good idea to add a confirmation to unsubscribe links (double opt-out ) because of those bots. If you do not do that, the bots will unsubscribe your contacts without them even knowing.

You can see where I am going with this. When you send your newsletter to 5000 people, you can count that a huge percentage of them (it will depend of the industry and other data) will be Microsoft emails: hotmail, outlook and office365 accounts. And if your email have 4 or 5 links to your website, then you are sending thousands of bots to visit your page at the same time and not only one page, but several visits per bot.

So what can I do?

If you are an user that receives newsletter:

  • Deactivate the safe links protection or make sure you configure to let the newsletter your trust to passthrough.
  • Report to the owner of the website if you try to follow a link and it does not work. They may not even know this is happening.

If you are a business owner or the marketing agency sending the newsletters:

  • Make sure you spread the sending of emails during several hours and days.
  • If you can, avoid using query strings on the links. Do not send people directly to dynamic pages (add to cart button on an email is a bad idea).
  • If you do not need the extra tracking, disable it.
  • Use only the necessary links on your emails. This is also best for conversion so win win.
  • Contact in advance your hosting provider or your tech support (or us if we are managing your WordPress website) and let them know as much details as possible of what you are trying to do.
  • Send a test with 10% of your mailing list coordinated with your hosting or tech support (or with us), that way you can see in real life how it is going to work.

If you are like us, a hosting or if you manage and handle websites for your clients:

  • Make sure your cache system is ready to handle the most common queries. There are several tips online on how to do this depending of the technology you are using for cache.
  • Ask for a copy of the email and test the links.
  • Add any extra measures you need to make sure the server can handle the extra traffic.
  • Be available to sort any issues at the time of launch of the first batch.
  • Optional: send this link to your clients so they can understand why communication with their support team is important.

I hope this post will help you to send a successful email campaign. Merry Christmas!