Why Email Deliverability Is Critical For Your Community’s Success

Email Deliverability in Associations and Nonprofits

As a non-profit organization you want to build, maintain and encourage everyone’s involvement; staff, clients, supporters and donors. One major avenue that non-profits use to engage those groups, and the individuals within them is email. Getting to that point demands strategy, standards and processes. In this article, let’s discuss how you do that today.

Email Deliverability Importance

You’ve probably seen a lot of email service providers advertise “98% deliverability” or “high deliverability” or “the best deliverability ever,” and you might be wondering what it all means. Deliverability is a way to measure the success at which an email marketer gets a campaign into subscribers’ inboxes.  Senders affect their own deliverability, too—so if you create good content and maintain a clean list, your campaigns will be more likely to reach your subscribers.

Your Community Email Strategy

According to various reports, 18% of permission-based email in North America never reaches the inbox: 5% is classified as spam, and the remaining 13% simply goes missing. While 82% inbox placement is not a horrible number, marketers would agree that there is certainly room for improvement.

There’s no question that email software and the people who use it are getting better at filtering out spam. This is good since it makes it easier for engaging emails to get through — but without a strong focus on deliverability, sometimes even quality, permission-based emails can get filtered out of your subscriber’s inboxes.

You want every email your organization sends out to be welcomed by the community and, where appropriate, responded to. Like most projects, you have to have a vision for how you get there.

Your non-profit must communicate with each group and sub-group found in it. You want to keep information flowing freely in both directions for your communications such as a:

  • Welcome message introducing a new staff member or new sponsor.
  • Weekly or monthly newsletters.
  • Events that are being planned, organized or reviewed to get maximum attention.

An email strategy underpins everything to do with successful email communication. You must ensure that:

  • Each email supports and enhances your goal of building, engaging and encouraging involvement.
  • Each email goes to the correct recipient.
  • Each email is both expected and welcomed by the recipient.
  • As many emails possible are opened and responded to.
  • Where it applies, you want emails which are created by group members to be accurate and appropriate.

To the point, you have to make sure that each email goes to the right person. They must open them. They must respond to them, and even add their own content for further distribution. In this personalized way, community involvement is maximized.

Ensuring Standards of Deliverability

Community software technology enables and ensures that required standards are met, so your strategy succeeds. Using a specialist company to manage standards of delivery, means you can focus on your organization and its community. Standards you want in place include:

  • The right subscription settings, to keep members’ preferences paramount.
  • Opting in and opting out are simple.
  • Emails are delivered correctly to authenticated addresses.
  • User-generated content is checked to make sure it is both authentic and appropriate to its recipients.
  • Servers and the network, itself, remain secure.
  • Feedback is continuous so any complaints, permanent blocks, etc. can be handled properly and problems get addressed.
  • Client monitoring, help desk access, etc. are under client control, and reports are produced so it is easy to review and respond to anything.
  • Application features can be customized to suit the organization’s style, feel and look.

Standards like these mean that staff and members can focus on the community, rather than worry about security or unwanted communication. When teams are planning or running a fund-raiser, for example, they have neither the time nor the desire to keep “looking over their shoulders” to see if everything is working as it is supposed to. This brings us to the processes.

System Processes

The technical details that are built into the software, and into the user interface are what enable the your community’s standards to be met. The email software must be able to continuously monitor email activity and content. This process then reports the results so everything is clear and obvious. The reports mean the community managers can either positively confirm that everything is deliverable or that they can order up improvements to fix minor problems before they become major problems.

Best Practices For Deliverability In Your Community

Trust and engagement matters in email best practices in your community.

First, your community should give your subscribers a good reason to opt in and set clear expectations about what’s to come. Then, follow through on your promises with timely, targeted, valuable emails.

Second, choose a solid email marketing service provider. Make sure the vendor you choose is sophisticated enough to provide:

  • Bounce codes, feedback loops, and connection optimization.
  • Has email technology which is up-to-date and compliant with today’s legal requirements.

A good provider must also cultivate good relationships with receivers by applying proactive issue resolutions, feedback loops, and whitelisting practices.

A modern email marketing service provider will ensure deliverablity. It will allow you to segment your contact lists into sub-lists so that you can target specific customers with specific messages. This is essential to keeping your audience engaged with relevant content and making sure the right person gets the right message at the right time.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Go Ahead And Send – Email is Not Dead

Email Deliverability Is Critical For Your Community’s Success

To email or not to email, that is the question organizations are asking themselves more often. Do people really read marketing emails anymore? Or do they go straight into the virtual trash can? In this article, we discuss the continued value of email in all facets of your nonprofit today.

Email: An Untimely Death?

We do know that email is not dead. In fact, according to this article from zdnet email readership is up, especially among Millennials.

“It discovered that Millennials–consumers ages 18 to 34–spend the most time with email of any age group. 90 percent of them rely primarily on their smartphones to access their emails.”

This group is far more likely to open a marketing email than to click on an ad on a social media page. While your social media pages are definitely the place to communicate on an individual level and create a community space, email is still a powerful marketing tool.

Engagement Matters to Deliver-ability

How your recipients engage with your emails is a major factor in future deliverability. For several years now, engagement data has become a prominent measure of deliverability at some of the major ISPs.

Big league email providers, such as Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, and Outlook, have made it clear that they analyze which emails their users open and click through to gauge whether emails from a particular sender are spam. If users are not opening and clicking certain emails, to the spam folder they eventually go.

Per many industry experts, mail providers and mail clients are going to have more sophisticated filters that measure user interactions with mail and preferences for content. This is why it’s so important to figure out how to tailor email content to the audience.

Yahoo! has acknowledged that as it more precisely analyzes user behavior to weed out spam, therefore some genuine senders might find themselves facing deliverability challenges. And, time will tell, but odds are that if a consumer always engages with emails from a particular sender, then Gmail will eventually move those emails from the Promotions tab to the Primary tab, just as they did with the older Priority Inbox. This is why engagement matters even for deliverability.

How to Resuscitate Your Efforts

So what do we do with this information? Like anything, we put it to work with a few ideas to help.

  • Make it Smart phone friendly. You may have heard this before, but a lot of people have neglected to follow this advice. So it bears repeating. If you put too many high-resolution images in your digital communications, it will take longer to load on a smart phone, leading to it being deleted before it even gets read. Some email programs send text in a format that will not adjust to the smaller screen to be read easily. Unless you have some very compelling content, your recipients will not take the time to wade through that message. Send test emails to a few smart phone users to find out what happens on different phones. Then switch your format until a variety of phones show the email in a readable manner.
  • Enrich your content. On its own, bad content won’t prevent your communications from being delivered, but if your content is boring or irrelevant, people won’t engage with it or, worse, will mark your emails as spam. People like to learn new things. Consider using your email to send a regular blog that teaches new skills, highlights interesting new things going on at your organization, or introduces your readers to employees and volunteers they may never get to meet. If you are selling a product, consider expanding the information about it. Don’t just tell your readers your coffee maker makes coffee. They can see that. Give a full product review and offer a discount only available to email recipients.
  • Personalize your sales pitch. No matter how fantastic your association is, if you keep sending emails about it to someone who is not and never plans on becoming a member, they will stop opening your emails and eventually unsubscribe. Invest in a program that allows users to get emails based on interest.
  • Don’t overshare. Be careful about how many emails you are sending. Flooding someone’s inbox is a sure way to get an unsubscribe and have your email address blocked. Millennials may spend hours reading email, but they would like it to be concise. We live in a world where people are increasingly looking to communicate via short text message. Emails can be longer and include more details, but keep your audience in mind. If they can’t read it in a few minutes or less, they probably won’t get to the end.
  • Validation and Authentication. It’s important to find a service provider and email software solution with features that ensure success too. A solution which provides one primary domain, a validation tool for checking all email addresses,  & DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are some features to be sure to investigate. Further, feedback loops which alert you to bounces, rejected email (such as spam) and complaints are critical.  

Keep calm and carry on with email marketing 

Go ahead and compose your email. We promise that a good number of the people in your address book will take a look. If it’s time to upgrade your ability to send effective emails, please contact us to help you get set up.

Email Marketing Automation Software for Nonprofits

The Campaign In Your Association’s Backyard

Membership Software Campaigns

Everywhere you turn, you are bombarded with political campaign talk today. So, all that recent political talk has got me thinking about the parallels between political campaigns & new membership campaigns. Further, the necessity in having effective Association membership management software to help membership based organizations achieve their campaign goals effectively. In this article, I launch my own campaign to outline some clear reasons why you should invest in the right software to achieve your goals.

Executing Campaigns with Membership Software

About this time of the year your team is likely seeking better ways in order to attract and retain (renew) your membership. You may even be embarking on a membership  campaign right now to close out the year. In order to be successful in that campaign, you, your board, and your staff must all hop on board with a unified message and campaign objective in order to succeed in your Association’s mission. But, before you do that, let’s talk a bit out what you need in terms of technology and process.

Your Membership Campaign Goals:

First, every campaign should have a metric based goal. Your campaign success translates into a shared prosperity for your Association, its team, and your membership. In the political world, it’s polling. For your Association, the goal may be as simple as 200 more members in 2017.

How do you and your team view your Association’s mission? Is it simply long-term sustainability through membership growth and management?

In the political realm today, you hear tons about who is leading in the polls, right? In your association, your campaign goal should be agreed upon, measured, & monitored. Your membership software should have the ability to measure what is important to you so that everyone may be invested in the process. Further, have the integrity in order to be trusted.

Volunteers Are Needed to Succeed:

Volunteering at every level is part of any organization’s success. Research shows the ideal volunteer journey starts with small tasks and virtual participation, working all the way up to committees and leadership positions.

Campaigns depend on the passionate participation of large numbers of volunteers who have specific tasks assigned to them, sure, but whose real function is to spread their passion to other members and new recruits. Volunteers can make or break a campaign both in terms of numbers and levels of enthusiasm. Ask yourself, how can you strengthen your volunteer corps? Hint: ask them what would make them feel most engaged.

Further, implement software like Higher Logic’s volunteer management software which can help automate volunteer management, personalize volunteer profiles, track engagement, & reward and recognize. Bringing together members for a variety of campaigns requires unique strategies and techniques that leverage individual contributions.

Put Your Marketing Hats on:

Have you noticed that political campaigns no longer depend solely on TV ads as they did a couple of decades ago? Sophisticated campaigns take advantage of every marketing medium that enters their radar, and they also employ segmentation to reach the various subgroups within their target audience—perhaps using TV ads for Matures, and various social media and website tools for younger members.

Have you segmented your target membership for effective marketing? My recent blogs detail how to accomplish this key approach.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” –Josef Stalin

We all know what happened to Mr. Stalin. You, on the other hand, understand the value of your members’ input. Your members vote with their membership fees, and their time. But they also can vote by having a real say in your programming through online member surveys, segmented focus groups, or other frequent, organized interactions with management such as happy hours or teas created expressly for boosting interaction between members and Association management. In your Association, who counts the votes?

Community Collaboration Within A Campaign

Community collaboration is so critical to get the message out about your campaigns. Who would have thought a decade ago that a Presidential race like we are seeing today would be so impacted by Twitter and Facebook posts by their candidates.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

While public facing sites such as Facebook are good for many political campaigns, I believe that a private community would likely be a better alternative to “pull your members” into your own associations backyard.

It’s not that elusive. In fact, it’s easier than ever before to build a secure, dynamic, and private online community for your organization. With a private community you may be able to do some of the following to help with your membership campaign:

  • Build a knowledge base of best practices, go-to-market plans, sample documents, spreadsheets, images, videos, and more.
  • Give community members a place to collaborate, ask questions, provide answers or resources, and discuss the hot topics of the day.
  • Provide a single source of updated information for your events and make it simple for users to find and engage the ones that matter most to them.
  • Connect experienced mentors with ambitious mentees to share resources, experiences, and work together to achieve professional and personal goals.

Communication Functionality in Software: 

We have all likely heard the slogans from the presidential campaign this year. If not, let’s review:

  • “Stronger Together”- Hillary Clinton
  • “Make America Great Again”- Donald Trump

Personally, I like “Peace and Prosperity” from the 1956 U.S. presidential campaign slogan of Dwight D. Eisenhower. It sure would be nice to go back to the campaigns of yesteryear, wouldn’t it? But, who am I to judge! I am only allowed to provide unbiased reports…..

Whatever your campaign message, your associations membership software must have email software which will help your team get the message out to the right people at the right time.

Almost all membership software of all tier levels has some form of email capabilities. The key difference in term of viability is “how” they are able to do it. And, what reporting you are able to perform before or after the message is sent to understand it’s effectiveness.

Is Marketing Automation Software a better option or is email marketing? Suffice it to say, most membership software solutions do not have marketing automation features built into their solutions. If that is applicable for more robust campaigns, you need to come to grips that you will likely need to integrate with a marketing automation platform such as Informz.

In my opinion, all political campaigns should be focused on hope and prosperity. And, to that end, engaged members feel more hopeful and are likely to act on that through participating in Association events, which in turn, are likely designed to spread prosperity for them.

As we’ve all learned from campaigns in this century, technology can and is valuable to help spread their message. And, likely the stronger the support you receive from your software, the more likely it is that your campaign will succeed too despite the “messenger”.

Membership and political campaigns come in all sizes and budgets—and so does the right membership management software. Please let us know how we can assist in order to match the available software to your Association’s campaign strategies.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

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