For much of my four years at NationBuilder, I worked on email deliverability – either directly monitoring the results of our customer email blasts, or working with the delivery director on thorny deliverability issues and strategies and documentation to help our customers get more out of our email product.
I always look at bulk email delivery as an art as well as a technical challenge. While nonprofits and political campaigns want to get their message to as many people as swiftly as possible, internet service providers (ISPs) are devoted to keeping their customers’ inboxes as clean and relevant as possible. This means they have teams of engineers working to keep unwanted bulk mail out. In order to successfully navigate the inboxes of supporters and voters, you need to send relevant, wanted messages that will be regularly opened. And you’ve also got to avoid technical problems that signal to ISPs that your emails might be spam. When emailing, it’s not what’s legal (such as sending emails to a voter file list), it’s what the ISPs think of your e-blasts that ultimately matters.
One of the biggest things you can do to improve e-blast results is regularly eliminate bad and bouncing addresses from your sends. Thankfully, NationBuilder does much of this for you in an automated fashion. And while I was with the company, I developed a relationship with Accurate Append, a firm that specializes in verifying emails before you send to them. You can do this in two ways – in real time as emails are submitted on web forms – or in bulk with any list you haven’t been sending to regularly. It’s estimated that you can lose as much as 2% of your list each month due to changes in folks’ email addresses. That means if you’re running for office and using a list of personal contacts whom you don’t routinely email, 20-50% of your list may be bad. You can “clean” your list simply by running it through an inexpensive process with Accurate Append, and make sure you stay on the ISPs good side by sending to highly valid addresses where your messages will be opened, read and responded to.
If you’d like to read more email deliverability tips, NationBuilder has a good guide to email best practices. For campaigns and other outreach efforts, Accurate Append also provides email append and phone append products. I recently wrote up a guide to using appends to generate laser-targeted Facebook advertising audiences.
If you’d like to learn more about how Accurate Append can help with your data challenges, just give them a call or fill out a web form.