The BCC is probably something you don’t normally think about in reference to marketing or transactional email. Chances are if you spent any time in marketing, you probably don’t use BCC for one to many communications—and, in reality, you shouldn’t. If you Google “BCC and email marketing,” you’ll find a plethora of blogs decrying how you shouldn’t use BCC and instead use a marketing or email platform that allows you to send individual emails to your recipients.
Couldn’t agree more!
With that said, I have heard of companies using the BCC, occasionally, for record keeping in the financial services and statement fulfillment world. I recently had a conversation with a financial services employee about the BCC—he was focused on one specific use case: storing copies of emails sent to recipients from a bank.
This got me thinking about different methods of achieving the requisite communication storage of a BCC yourself while doing it in a more efficient (and slightly less archaic manner).
First, there are a lot of reasons to try and avoid using the BCC, including:
- If you BCC yourself, you will always get a “250ok delivered” or you will certainly receive a copy of the email you sent.
- Just because you received a 250ok delivered to your BCC’d address doesn’t mean the intended recipient received the email.
- BCC’ing will require the sender to marry up the delivery record of the BCC and the intended recipient—you need proof that the email was delivered vs. just a record that it was sent. (Additionally, you will need a plan and course of action for when the email isn’t received, what then? What’s the alternate execution channel?)
- Most industrial strength email platforms aren’t well suited to sending BCC’ed email as that’s not how one to many communication platforms were built.
In truth, one of the best ways of achieving communication storage would be to take the log file with confirmation of delivery and receipt (a 250ok in SMTP speak) to the recipient, noting the time, the campaign ID, and marrying it up with a template that was delivered.
Other reasons why you want to avoid BCC in general include:
- It looks strange when you receive an email where the "to line" is someone else’s name and email address because your email was in the BCC.
- Omitting a recipient address and shoving all recipients in the BCC is “spammy” behavior—it won’t end well. Learn more about avoiding the spam folder in our how-to guide.
- Professional marketing email (and transactional for that matter) give the appearance of 1:1 communication by a sender “addressing” a recipient through the use of a "friendly from," subject line personalization, etc. You can’t personalize an opening greeting, or a subject line if a single email is bound for hundreds of people via the BCC.
There are a few industries or use cases that have a notion of "assured delivery." Anyone who is legally required to deliver a statement or notice of legal change, bills, and other fiduciary documentation, looks at electronic or paperless statements as one step in a chain they call, assured delivery.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “assured delivery, that’s great, I want that!” We all do, and SendGrid delivers a great deal of email on behalf of our customers—north of 30 billion pieces of email a month. However, the specific use of the word "assured" has a nuanced meaning.
If it doesn’t arrive via a paperless option, there is another channel to assure that it reaches the recipient one way or another. If the email doesn’t arrive, there will be a postal envelope waiting, and naturally at a higher cost, but that is what is required by law.
Specific industries require a "record" of the email delivery or attempted delivery. These industries view the delivery of email as if it were virtual paper and keep it filed as if it were heading into a manila folder.
Ultimately, anyone who may be required to store electronic records should legally consult with a lawyer on what is required and permissible. Consider the use case and the moving parts associated with email—it’s a highly instrumented and infinitely measurable channel with log files capable of recording every nuance of an email’s transmission.
Lastly, make sure you have an easy way to get at the records (of delivery and non-delivery) if you are required to present them from a regulatory standpoint or an investigative one. It does no one any good if you have a record that is buried.
For more on other email deliverability best practices, check out our Email Deliverability Guide