Email Distribution Lists Problems and their Solutions

Disadvantages of Email Distribution Lists

While using an email distribution list might have some benefits, it can sometimes be more problematic than they are worth, especially when sending a heavy SMTP relay like Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Email Delivery.

A distribution list, also known as an alias, is when you email an address that subsequently shares that message to anybody on that list. People widely use distribution lists in large businesses. It is important to learn how to build an email list. Instead of individually entering each list member's address, the list administrator creates a single email address and sends it, thus covering everyone they need to reach.

How it Could All Go Wrong

The distribution list email address functions the same way as any other email address: One can send a message from one email address to another, and the receiving mail server gets the message. They email the specified address with a distribution list, which then distributes it to the specified number of email addresses on the list. With many addresses in the distribution list, there are many opportunities for a hard bounce, which result in suppression. A hard bounce from a distribution list address means that the entire list of addresses, not just the representative of the suppressed list, is bounced.

This means that if John Smith, for example, left Organization Y with the email address John was on a company-wide distribution list with 80 other employees. The distribution list administrator cannot delete John's email address from the list, which is later terminated by the IT team. The distribution list address hard bounces the next time the team leader tries to send it to the list, and no one receives the email because John's inactive address is still on it.

Email Marketing Strategies that Could Work

There are a few email marketing trends and best practices we can turn to solve these issues. The most distinct method is to avoid using heavy SMTP relays like OCI Email Delivery to transmit to distribution lists. Even the most conscientious sender will run into issues sometimes because of the maintenance required for distribution lists. Distribution lists are better handled via personal correspondence due to the level of upkeep required.

Instead of using a distribution list, companies could use a mailing list. They send each address to individual emails rather than through a distribution list with a mailing list. So, if a hard bounce occurs, it only impacts that address and not all other emails. A distribution list administrator can also keep track of their list regularly. However, if they miss an address that becomes null, they will be suppressed.

Companies can solve this by setting up suppression alerts for their distribution lists if they can't utilize these choices and must use an SMTP relay for their lists. That way, when the distribution list is added, they will know there's a problem and can work with their IT team or HR to figure out who doesn't work there anymore, if they misspelled an email address, and similar things.


There are various types of email marketing strategies. It is up to a company to find one that works well for them. Keeping distribution lists up to date can be difficult, especially in larger organizations. While SMTP relays are required for various reasons, utilizing them to send emails can often result in more effort than is desired. Knowing why distribution list addresses are suppressed, how to work around the issues, and finding alternative methods of sending are all steps toward ensuring that essential emails get to the right people at the right time.

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