How to test/mimic the sending of very large volumes of email?

What's the best way to test the sending of large volumes of email?  I run a newsletter site for a client and as the database has grown to over 40,000 emails I'd like to be able to do test runs of sending that many emails without actually sending that many emails.  Also, I've seen some email newsletter/marketing websites that claim to have a verifiable 98% delivery rate.  How do they verify that?  I think it's done by a third party.  Do  they run through test mailings by sending to the third party verifier?  Finally, what's an average length of time you would expect for sending/delivery of 40,000 plus emails?

Thanks.
ndcbizmanAsked:
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Kshitij AhujaTechnology DeveloperCommented:
Hi,

>> What's the best way to test the sending of large volumes of email?  I run a newsletter site for a client and as the database has grown to over 40,000 emails I'd like to be able to do test runs of sending that many emails without actually sending that many emails.  

I doubt you can achieve that.

>> Also, I've seen some email newsletter/marketing websites that claim to have a verifiable 98% delivery rate.  How do they verify that?  I think it's done by a third party.  

I think there is a features that allows you to receive a response when receipient opens the email. That is what they use to verify the delivery.

>> Do  they run through test mailings by sending to the third party verifier?  

I doubt that. Even if they do, thats not valid for all servers. Different emails may take different routes to reach recipients depending upon the recipient's server and the sender's server. Sender's server can be fixed one but this is not true for recipient. So it it vague to test on one server and claim to be sure of deliver on other.

>> Finally, what's an average length of time you would expect for sending/delivery of 40,000 plus emails?

It depends. Many servers have daily or even hourly limit of outgoing emails.  Suppose your server has a limit of 100 emails per hour. You can therefore send only 2400 emails in a day.  This is to prevent spam and ignoring this limit usually means inviting ban on the IP address, which essentially means all your emails will then be returned without delivery.

If you want to judiciously use the daily/hourly count of outgoing emails, you can first check if the email id exists so that when you send out the email, it is actually delivered and not just wasted in some error.
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tprpicsCommented:
if you and your server are not used to sending that many emails out you may quickly find your server blacklisted.  As mentioned about not only due servers have hourly limits on email sending but more importantly they have hourly limits on email recieving.  If you attempt to send to yahoo for example too many emails in a short time span they will stop recieving from you temporarly.  

We send out about 40,000 emails every tuesday for a large customer and we are constantly fighting problems.  For my own mailings I use a 3rd party - Vertical Response and have been very happy with the results.  
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ndcbizmanAuthor Commented:
My apologies. I suppose I should have given more information.  We've been doing this for a while and have encountered and solved many problems along the way (server limits, missing bounces, sent mails that vanish in cyber land, ...) all the while trying to maintain a clean mailing list so as not to get blacklisted.  

We do track opens but my understanding was that the claimed 98% delivery rate I mentioned was delivery, even if the recipient never opened it.  Is it possible to verify that?

We are also on our own server now so we have no hourly sending limit. I am also aware that I if send too much to Yahoo (or some other domain) all at once they will probably start rejecting some as spam.  

Our sending process runs pretty well but it seems a little slow to me.  I am of course in the process of tweaking the code to eliminate any bottlenecks on my end but was looking for a way to test a large volume of mail.  I've tested batches of up to 1000 by replacing emails with one of my own email addresses but I'm hesitant to do too much of this for obvious reasons.  

I could quite easily test the process that builds the newsletter and just skip the call to the mail function each time it loops through but this only tests the code on my end and leaves out the most important function.  

For any PHP coders that have coded such a function for sending large volumes of email, do you find the mail() function satisfactory or have you had better luck with smtp?  And, beyond testing in small batches, how did you test the script and verify delivery rates?

Thanks.


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