Waxing Philosophical About Email Deliverability

If I send an email, but my reply stats are low, did anyone actually receive it?

How many times have you worked tirelessly on an amazing engagement campaign, crafted the perfect fundraising pitch, designed the best-looking graphics — and after you sent the email, ended up with the most disappointing stats?

I will fully admit that I have had these moments during my many years sending emails — and I absolutely chalked those emails up to crummy subject lines or the less-than-ideal time of day/day of week combination or any other number of factors.

But, here’s the deal — when you send an email that has less-than-stellar returns, you shouldn’t ignore it. Heck, even with good emails, you shouldn’t ignore it. You want the good, the bad, and the ugly, because every email provides great insights into email deliverability.

Simply put, email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails into subscribers’ inboxes. That latter part is key! Your subscribers’ email addresses may be valid, but without maintaining your organization’s email deliverability, your messages may end up in a digital blackhole.

Avoid that digital blackhole by taking a moment to ask yourself and your team some key questions about your organization’s email deliverability, and keep your organization’s email’s headed on the right path — straight to the donor’s inbox!

Email deliverability should be an ongoing conversation — it’s not a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ thing. Bring up this topic with everyone who has a role in your digital program. If you don’t continuously monitor deliverability, you could get your organization on a deliverability blacklist and trust me — no one wants to blow their budget on wasted effort and not meet engagement goals.

TL;DR: The unexamined email is not worth sending. — (Modified) Socrates.

Here are some key questions to ask:

How Is Our Sender Reputation?

Is your email volume/frequency consistent — no huge gaps or over messaging in the schedule?

Do you acquire emails from reputable sources? Avoid purchased/unknown source lists (these have a huge potential for spam traps). If you do find yourself with a list of purchased email addresses, don’t just fold them into your existing onboarding strategies. Consider developing a special set of welcome and engagement emails for these purchased emails that provide ample easy engagements, as well as opt-out opportunities.

Have you explored using an email verifier tool (such as 250ok or DeBounce) to weed out spammy and bum emails?

Has Our Organization Been Authenticated?

Do you know what DKIM means? How about SPF, TLS, DNS, and DMARC? Do you know how often your certifications need to be updated? Or what technical changes can trigger a re-certification process? It’s totally fine if you don’t!

If not, turn to the professionals — ask your digital CRM provider and tech team about all the appropriate programs, protocols, acronyms and initials that need to be included and updated to maintain your digital program’s deliverability health.

Sharing Is Not Always Caring!

Do you have a shared IP address or a dedicated IP address? There are pros and cons for both, but when it comes to email deliverability, having a dedicated IP address is definitely a positive. If you’re on a shared IP, your deliverability can be impacted by the poor habits of another organization.

How Clean Is Our Email List?

What are your ongoing data hygiene practices? You should always have a clear opt-in process and provide clear unsubscribe options in every message. And don’t forget to regularly purge out bouncing names or inactive names!

Do We Have a Re-engagement Strategy?

If someone has been on your email list for one year and hasn’t opened, clicked, or converted in that time — that’s dead weight dragging down your deliverability.

Create “active” list parameters and if someone falls outside those parameters, send them one last attempt to engage with your best content/offers, and if they don’t engage, stop emailing them and remove them from your list. The rest of your file will thank you!


Need More Help? Lautman Maska Neill & Company is an Engaging Networks Partner and happy to help you take a look at your organization’s email deliverability strategy. Reach out to Lindsey Twombly at info@lautmandc.com to schedule a free 30-minute email deliverability quick assessment.