Knowledgebase: Marketing

Best Practices for Sending out Newsletters/Bulk Email


The following are general recommendations for sending newsletters from your Shift4Shop eCommerce Store. While most of the suggestions are specific to settings and configurations within Shift4Shop, the concepts are still considered best practices for online newsletter marketing overall. As such, even if you are using a 3rd party service to send your marketing emails, many of these practices should be followed there as well.

Newsletters and marketing emails are a great way to promote your Online Store and keep potential and existing customers engaged and aware of your offerings. However, there can be a fine line between what some may consider marketing emails or unsolicited spam messages. Here are some best practices to consider when preparing your newsletters and marketing email functions.

Setting up your Store's Sender Email Address
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One of the main components of your online web store is its domain name. Not only is it used as the URL/address of the store, but it can also be used for your store's emails.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that you set your store's global email address to something that reflects your domain. After all, if a shopper makes a purchase at, they would expect order notifications and your other business emails to also be [something]

To set your store's global "From" email address:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Settings >General >Store Settings
  3. On the right hand side of the page, under Invoice Information, enter the email address in the field labeled Email

Be aware that - if the email address entered in this field does not reflect your store's domain - messages coming from your Online Web store will appear as coming from [email protected].

Set Up SPF Records
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Emails sent directly to and from your domain email provider (i.e. Office 365, G Suite, etc) typically deliver without issue. But emails coming from your store's web server require some extra steps to ensure the messages get delivered to the recipient correctly.

One of these steps is the inclusion of a Sender Policy Framework or SPF record to the domain. These records help prevent your web store emails from being flagged as spam (or blocked altogether), and are added to the domain's DNS records.

You will typically need to add your domain email provider's SPF record, so be sure to get this information from them first. Some common domain email providers include services like Office 365 and Google's G Suite, but please refer to your specific domain email provider for details on their SPF records.

Adding the SPF Records

Adding SPF to your DNS record depends on whether your DNS is hosted by Shift4Shop or a 3rd party domain provider like GoDaddy.

If your DNS is handled by Shift4Shop:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Settings >General >Store Settings
  3. In the Store Information section, click on the blue "Manage Domain & Store URL" button
  4. Locate your store domain on the list and click on its "Manage DNS" link found at the far right.

This will display a list of your domain's current DNS records.

Check to see if there is already an SPF record for your domain. If there's already an existing SPF record, it will be a TXT record and it will include "v=spf1 include:" in its data column. Here's an example of an existing SPF record

If found, click on its action wheel at the far right and select details to edit it.

To add the new SPF records:

  1. Click on the "Add New Record" button at the top right of the screen.
    • For record type, select TXT
    • You may leave TTL and Record Name (host) at their default values
    • Then enter your SPF records (provided by your domain email provider)in the "Text Data" field
  2. Click Save when done.

If your DNS is handled by a 3rd party domain provider
(i.e. GoDaddy,, etc)

If you handle your own DNS through a 3rd party provider, you will typically need to add two separate SPF records:

  • One for your domain email provider
  • One for your Shift4Shop online store

Please refer to your domain provider on how to add DNS records, but remember that you will need to add two SPF records in this case. The format will need to include the Shift4Shop SPF record after the domain email provider's record as shown below:
(ours is listed in blue for reference)

v=spf1 include:[your-email-provider's SPF] -all

Set up DKIM
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Another DNS record that is similar to SPF is the DomainKeys Identified Mail - or DKIM - record. This record acts as a type of digital signature embedded within email messages to ensure that messages sent from your web store's server are actually linked to your domain. Without DKIM present in the domain's DNS, messages coming from the store itself may end up in the recipient spam or junk folders.

As is the case with SPF, where to add the DKIM record depends on whether the domain's DNS is with Shift4Shop or a 3rd party domain provider.

If your DNS is handled by Shift4Shop:

  1. Log into your Shift4Shop Online Store Manager
  2. Using the left hand navigation menu, go to Modules
  3. At the top of the Modules page, search for DKIM
  4. Mark the enable checkbox
  5. Click "Save" at the top right of the screen

That's it! DKIM is added to your DNS. To confirm it was added properly:

  1. Go to Settings >General >Store Settings
  2. In the Store Information section, click on the blue "Manage Domain & Store URL" button
  3. Locate your store domain on the list and click on its "Manage DNS" link found at the far right

You will see a record added with the name "cartdkimk._domainkey." with your store's domain added in the name.

If your DNS is handled by a 3rd party domain provider
(i.e. GoDaddy,, etc)

You can follow the same steps above to enable DKIM and review your store's key. Once you have the key copied, you can add it to the DNS records. Also, even though your domain's DNS is handled by your 3rd party, you should still leave the DKIM module enabled on the store.

Again, please refer to your domain provider for details on adding DNS records.

Use Double Opt-in When Collecting Subscribers
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When collecting subscribers for your newsletter and marketing emails, always be sure your subscription form has some sort of "double opt-in" process built into it. In other words, the recipient has to not only sign up for the newsletter/subscription, but they then need to confirm their subscription via an automated email to verify their request.

This helps to ensure that your subscribers actively chose to be added to your lists and minimize claims of spam coming from your store.

Most email marketing services offer this feature. If you are using Shift4Shop's Mailing List Function (Found in the Modules section!), it already includes the double opt-in function by default.

The subscribe field will typically appear on your store's footer (some themes may have it in the header or left banner), and it will allow users to both subscribe and unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Add an Unsubscribe Link to Every Email. Make it Prominent
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All of your store's marketing emails should contain an unsubscribe link of some sort. Furthermore, the link should be easy to see and use by the recipient.

As with the double-opt in suggestion above, this also serves as a way to prevent spam complaints being lobbied against you and your business.

This is a standard feature on most marketing email platforms and should always be enabled. If you are using Shift4Shop's built-in Newsletters, every email sent by it includes details on the sender, the recipient, and the unsubscribe link automatically included in each email's footer.

Upon clicking the link, the user's email is automatically removed from your subscriber list in the system.

Clean up your Mailing list
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Whether you're using Shift4Shop's built in Newsletters or a 3rd party service like MailChimp, the actual number of newsletters you can send per month is also something to consider. Routine maintenance, review and cleaning of your mailing lists can go a long way in ensuring you reach your intended targets more effectively - instead of using up your allotment to send message to people who aren't interested anymore.

Take time to analyze your newsletter delivery, open and bounceback rates to maximize the impact of your delivered messages.

If you are using Shift4Shop's built in Newsletters function, you can review each mailing list campaign by using the following steps:

  1. Go to Marketing >Mailing Manager
  2. Look towards the top right of the page and click on the Actions button
  3. Select "Report"
  4. Look at the statistics next to the name of the newsletter you would like to see a report on

The report will show you how many messages were sent for the newsletter, how many of these messages were opened, and how many sales were generated as a result of the newsletter via click through traffic.

Consider the following ideas to help clean your mailing list:

Review Engagement
Go through your open rates and review it for subscribers that don't seem that interested anymore.

The criteria you use to determine their engagement level is really up to you, but try to consider the length of time since they've clicked through on a message. Or the amount of time that has passed since they've even opened the messages.

Nowadays most people simply add rules and filters to their emails to clear out what they might consider nuisance messages. So if a particular subscriber seems disengaged in your eyes, consider re-engaging them with a personalized message or discount code. And if that doesn't work, save them the trouble of unsubscribing and remove them to make room for interested users.

Go through your Bouncebacks
Review the returned messages

Think back to your very first email address. Is it still active? Do you still use it? There's no point in sending messages to an address that no longer exists, so make sure to remove or blacklist bounceback addresses from your active list.

Most marketing email platforms will show you these rates. For example, the Shift4Shop Newsletter feature has will automatically blacklist emails that come in as hard bouncebacks. These are messages that were bounced back because the user no longer exists.

But also keep an eye out for soft bouncebacks. These are messages where the email was returned due to a full inbox rather than an unknown user. In these cases, the bouncebacks were likely sent to your domain email (the address your newsletters are sent "from"), so be sure to have a look in that mailbox for potential removal candidates.

Review the email addresses
Have a look at the email addresses in your active list as well.

Look for "near-duplicates" which may indicate someone who signed up with similar email accounts at different times or perhaps added their email address with a typo at some point. Compare these with the email in your customer and order databases so you can see which one is likely correct.

Of course, these suggestions are just ideas to consider, but the overall goal is to streamline your mailing list to work for your benefit. Whichever newsletter service you use will have monthly allotments, so it's better to have your marketing efforts focus on quality instead of quantity.

Build Your List Organically
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Along with the initial clean up your mailing list, another consideration to make is how to organically build your list with new users.

The ideal mailing list subscriber is someone who is:

  • Interested in your services
  • Inclined to purchase from you
  • Willing to learn more about your offerings
  • Ready to come back regularly

So by building out your site content to target each of those points, you can help create organic mailing lists and keep your targets engaged. Here are a couple of other built-in features that can help on this front.

A great way to reach new and existing users is through your site's blog.

Not only can it be used to showcase your items and services, but it can also be used to educate users about your industry in general. Frequent updates to your blog (especially informational and instructional updates), will result in frequent visits as well as sharing of your blog on social media. And by using the built in blog found on your Shift4Shop store, users can also subscribe to your blog articles.

From there, it can be easy to further engage those users and transition them to your mailing list.

Reward Points
Entice the users with rewards

Your Shift4Shop has a built-in Reward Point function that allows you to award points per dollar spent on your store. These accrued points can then be redeemed for purchase on items of your choosing. The initial idea behind the Reward Points is for existing customers which is why it is also referred to as a Loyalty Program

But, the rewards point program also allows you to award points for specific events on your store. For example, awarding points just for signing up for your newsletter!

While some merchants rely on contests to bring in more newsletter signups, the fact of the matter is - after the contest is over - those sign ups might not be interested anymore.

By offering reward points however, you're enticing your customers for the newsletters in a way that actively encourages engagement. Buy more items to get more points - use more points to get better stuff!

You can even add special promotional discounts to your store that are based on the number of points the customer has.

Again, the idea is to cultivate a mailing list of people who not only are interested in hearing from you, but are also engaged and willing to come back time and time again.

Use an Email Spam Checker/Spam test site
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Our final suggestion is to routinely check your newsletters with an online spam checker. These are (typically free) services that allow you to send a single newsletter to a specific email address managed by the service, where it will be checked and rated for a variety of potential issues that may flag your messages.

There are many services that perform this function and as mentioned, many of them are free. Here are three to try

These services will also alert you if your web server or domain have been inadvertently placed on any blacklists that will prevent your emails from getting delivered.

If you find this is the case for your emails, please reach out to support so we can look into the matter for you.

Please keep in mind that the server or domain being placed on a blacklist does not necessarily mean it is due to something you did wrong or something directly within Shift4Shop's control.

We simply ask that you report it to support and get a support ticket created so that our server administrators can look into the problem and offer the best courses of action to correct the issues.

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