Mass Email Communication Guideline

Mass email communications have a higher bar to clear in order not to get blocked by spam filters. Messages can miss the intended audience if they include phishy email characteristics. By following these rules you help ensure campus email recipients remain sensitized to characteristics that are typical of phishing messages and reduce the chance that your message gets blocked.  

Communicators should follow these basic guidelines to help messages from being blocked:  

  • Provide sufficient identification
  • Authenticate messages from external marketing communication vendors
  • Avoid spammy characteristics

These guidelines are especially important if the communications request personal information.

Provide sufficient identification to avoid getting blocked

  • Send from a berkeley.edu email address

  • Include a UC Berkeley contact for message validation, e.g.,

    • campus phone number 

    • campus physical address

    • berkeley.edu email address

    • berkeley.edu web address

  • Send the message through berkeley.edu servers when possible

  • Use berkeley.edu web links when possible (also applies to graphics)

  • Do not display a URL and link it to or pass-through to another URL (this can occur with 3rd party link-tracking services)

  • Simple and direct URLs (e.g., security.berkeley.edu/phishing) are preferable to long, cryptic URLs.

Authenticate messages from external marketing communication vendors

If the mass mailing is sent through an external marketing vendor (e.g., Constant Contact, MailChimp) using a berkeley.edu address, use DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to prove that the message is legitimate.  (If mass mailings are coming from outside berkeley.edu address, you do not need to do this).

DKIM is a protocol that allows an organization to take responsibility for sending a message, even when it sends via a 3rd-party service provider.  DKIM can help prevent email marketing campaigns from being flagged as spam or phishing.

Below are instructions for two marketing vendors. Coordinate with the bConnected team at consult@berkeley.edu to implement DKIM for bulk mailing:

Note: DKIM authentication is not required for email message posting to UC Berkeley Google Groups (bConnected Lists).

Avoid spammy characteristics

Avoid spammy/phishy qualities like:

  • ALL CAPS

  • Spammy words (e.g., "free money") in the subject line (see below for an extensive list of words and phrases to avoid)

  • Excessive punctuation!!?!

  • Attaching documents - instead link to a web page for additional content (e.g., Google doc)

  • If an attachment is necessary, use a PDF file rather than a Word, PowerPoint deck or other file types

Additionally, messages linked to web pages that require login are often flagged as possible phishing attempts

Spammy words to avoid in mass communications:

  • Amazing

  • Act Now!

  • All New

  • Avoid Bankruptcy

  • As Seen On...

  • Buy Direct

  • Casino

  • Cash

  • Call now!

  • Click Here

  • Collect

  • Compare

  • Don't Delete

  • Free!

  • Guarantee, Guaranteed

  • Great offer

  • Give it away, Giving it away

  • No cost, No fees

  • Offer

  • One time

  • Order Now

  • Opportunity

  • Please Read

  • Promise You

  • Removes

  • You're a Winner!

  • Hidden

  • Information you requested

  • Special Promotion

  • Stop or Stops

  • Subscribe, Discount!

  • Save up to

  • Time limited

  • Visit our web site

  • While supplies last

  • Why pay more?

  • Winner