As a campaigner/fundraiser who is also heavily involved in technology I feel quite passionately about building strong foundations for mobilisation. My sense is that, in times of an increasingly monetised social media landscape, independent channels like email are one of those really vital building blocks for impact. So we need to protect and invest in them well.
Big changes are happening this week which affect whether your supporter emails will arrive with their intended recipients.
These changes are ultimately a positive step towards improving email as a whole, but they also have the potential to wipe a significant amount of supporters off your list if not handled correctly (GDPR flashbacks, anyone?). So now feels like an especially important time to talk about email deliverability.
What is email deliverability?
'Deliverability' simply means making sure that the emails we send to our supporters end up in their inboxes, rather than getting blocked or dumped into spam folders.
Starting February (ie this week), two of the biggest email providers, Gmail and Ymail, are introducing important changes to how they decide whether to deliver your emails to your supporters. Though only these two providers are making changes right now - we can expect others to follow.
The changes are essentially made up of three different components:
- A few technical changes that you will need IT support with to ensure compliance (DKIM, SPF, DMARC)
- One-click unsubscribing and ensuring these unsubscribes are handled within 2 working days
- A very low spam score (not more than 3 spam reports in every 1,000 supporters)
Things to consider
Though there are things you can (and really must) do yourself to protect your email deliverability, the other side of the coin is just as important - the company/technology you choose to send your emails from. Industry leaders like Mailchimp, Optimizely, Dotdigital and similar are very good at ensuring excellent deliverability. They have large teams of people dedicated to just this, as well as close contacts with big email companies like Google and Yahoo (Microsoft). This means that deliverability issues rarely come up and when they do a solution is reached so quickly you may not even notice it.
I'd argue, one of the questions you should ask when choosing an email provider is: “Do they have the power, resources and connections to the Google and Microsofts of the world?”.
Cleaning your list
Do you have supporters on your list who are inactive or disengaged? Consider cleaning up your data to avoid getting two many people clicking 'spam' which could stop your active supporters from hearing from you.
Personalising content is always important, but now more so than ever - especially for new signups. A simple reference to how someone signed up or why they're receiving the email could keep their fingers away from the 'spam' button.
Make unsubscribing very easy to do
The easier it is to unsubscribe, the fewer people flagging will be your email as spam. If your unsubscribe button isn't already at the top of your emails - now might be a good time to add it.
If your organisation campaigns, you should also be carefully considering the tools you use for sending campaign actions, ideally using a separate platform for campaigning actions and your supporter email sends. Email to target actions, whether that's to a politician or a corporate, have a much higher likelihood than supporter emails to get marked as spam or to struggle with deliverability; this is for the simple reason that the targets don't necessarily want to receive them (this is especially true for corporate targets). If you keep your campaigning tools and supporter email tools on the same platform, your campaign actions could threaten your ability to reliably send supporter emails.
Choosing the right technology
For these reasons, when we build our campaigning and fundraising platform Impact Stack, we chose a best-in-class approach, where we focused on created the best campaigning and fundraising platform, whilst providing excellent integrations to connect it to the best email tools (and CRMs of course). This not only allows you to create the perfect technology mix for your needs but also to make sure that your supporter emails arrive. When your supporter takes an action on Impact Stack, the data arrives in your email tool (e.g. Mailchimp) in near real-time. You get the best of both worlds - the best technology, and safety nets at every stage.
If you're interested in finding out more about Impact Stack, please just reach out for a free demo.
- Here is a blogpost by an excellent email company called litmus that explains this stuff in more detail
- Make sure to check-out the advice from your email provider on how to implement these new changes. For example here's the advice from Mailchimp
- Read more about the "best in class" technology strategy
- Free report: Creating richer supporter experiences through integrated tech
Overall, these changes have the potential to be something really positive. But we need to be prepared to make sure we all stay compliant.
I hope that was helpful. Good luck with your upcoming campaigns and fundraising,