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Are You Ready For #GivingTuesday?

e5f42e85d45d3a6d391824996c512e66-huge-lo#GivingTuesday  traditionally marks the start of the End-Of Year Giving Season. 
This year in the U.S., the social media movement #GivingTuesday happens Nov. 28 and is sure to amplify your organization’s missions during the upcoming holiday season. Last year, more than 1 Million people in 98 countries donated $177,000,000! 

While you are planning your online marketing and fundraising strategy  for the End-of-Year Giving season, don’t forget to take a closer look at Email Deliverability and Inbox Placement. Whether you are reaching out to our constituents with a fundraising request, a call to action, or with a newsletter, you want to be sure that message is read — and it’s only read if it gets to the recipient’s inbox. There is a new world out there when it comes to deliverability. Email service providers are barraged by mountains of email and their main objective is to ensure that the emails that reach the inbox are relevant and wanted. To do so, they incorporate dynamic analysis on inbound email to determine several factors that will determine whether or not the message makes it in front of the recipient. Read on for some things that you can do today, to ensure your Email Deliverability and Inbox Placement Rates are trending upwards.
Engagement Analysis
Gmail is a leader in the dynamic analysis of inbound email. Based on the actions across the Gmail user base to a specific message, including opening, clicking and reporting as spam, Gmail will dynamically determine whether an in-flight email is worthy of the inbox or should be moved to a sub-folder (Promotions, Spam, etc.) This means it is more important than ever to deliver your email to engaged constituents. Email data from NetCommunity such as opens and click throughs are written down to the constituent record in Raiser’s Edge. You can use queries in Raiser’s Edge to segment your email lists and then, in Blackbaud NetCommunity, target specific email content to each list. Create a separate list for heavily engaged users who have interacted with you recently – maybe attended an event or responded to a survey. Identify those who have not been engaged in the recent past and try to get them engaged again with a clear call to action – Send them a survey, ask for their feedback, etc. The goal is to try to get your less engaged constituents to read and open your emails and get their  engagement levels up before you target them for your giving season fundraising appeals.
Explicit Opt-in
All Blackbaud email marketing software, including Blackbaud NetCommunity, requires the use of an explicit opt in, meaning that the user has to have explicitly noted that they would like to receive mail from your organization. This means that when you’re performing a constituent upload or in any way adding a constituent to your email marketing program, you are doing so under this requirement.
Studies have shown that purchased lists and increased spam complaints go hand in hand. Adding a list of constituents who do not know your organization or that were acquired from a third-party without the constituent’s knowledge, not only goes against policy, but these contacts may also include known spam traps. Emails sent to such addresses will likely result in higher spam complaints that will negatively affect the deliverability of email for your organization. Any benefit gained from adding these constituents to your email marketing program will be erased by the lower inbox rates you will experience. This directly impacts the reputation of your domain as a sender which further negatively affects your email deliverability rates.
Gmail has moved their focus when analyzing email to determine deliverability. They have determine that the actions of recipients is more important than the message content or reputation of the sender. This doesn’t mean that reputation and content aren’t important, they are. For content there are several rules around determining the “spamminess” of your messages. These rules are complicated - take a look at Bayesian analysis if you want to get into the nitty gritty details (you may need some calculus). Want easier to use tools that help you create better messages? There are some great third party tools that you can use in conjunction with Blackbaud NetCommunity. lets you look at your email’s content and the DNS setup to verify you’re doing all you can to make it to the inbox. Just go to the “Send Test Email” step in the email creation flow, and add the special email provided by and soon you’ll have a full analysis.
You have at most 10 seconds to capture your recipients' attention in the inbox, so keep the subject line descriptive and inviting, as well as concise and relevant, but not promotional. To retain your recipients' attention once they open the message, keep your content clear and concise. Your message should include at least one prominent call to action — such as to donate, register, join, volunteer, or visit your website — that gives the recipient a compelling reason to act now. Check out some do’s and don’ts while finalizing your email content.
Proper DNS Configuration
To start, you should be sure that you have Sender Verification (SPF) properly configured on your domain’s DNS. This simply tells inbound email providers that NetCommunity’s Email Servers are trusted senders for emails listed as from your domain. This setup is explained here in the Knowledgebase.
NetCommunity automatically signs with a public shared key so that your emails will pass DKIM authentication. For further levels of DKIM authentication, you can work with Blackbaud Support to set up a private (unshared) key for your domain. This isn’t necessary but can allow the use of a stricter DMARC policy if your organization chooses to do so. The steps to implement are hereMore information about DMARC is available here.
More Resources
This is a fairly high level overview of what can be done for email. For more reading, you can head to Blackbaud’s Email Deliverability Resource Center. It is a hub for all things email and gives you in-depth information on how email works and what issues may arise.
Pallavi Paranjape is the Product Manager for Blackbaud NetCommunity.
Posted by Pallavi Paranjape on Nov 9, 2017 1:57 PM America/New_York