Welcome to the first-ever guest post on Mizz Information! As a small-staff association marketing and communications professional, there is so much I need to learn, so and I figured as I look to experts to find answers to questions I have, why not share their expertise with Mizz Information readers? Email marketing is one of the hats I now wear and I know I have tons to learn, so I reached out to Suzanne Carawan at HighRoad Solution. She introduced me to her colleague, HighRoad Solution’s Director of Operations, Jenny Lassi, who was kind enough to write this post. Enjoy!
“If you always do what you’ve always done,
you will always get what you’ve always got.”
– Anthony Robbins
This is not a stitch different for email marketers in the association space, yet all too often, I consult with clients who have the exact same pain points in reaching a member’s inbox, but feel powerless or misinformed on email inbox best practices to create positive change for this important content delivery channel.
The 5-biggest pain points are:
- Email address is bouncing and/or continually being flagged as invalid/ineligible (Reputation)
- Emails going directly to the spam folder abyss, (Authentication)
- Email getting delivered but member says they didn’t get it, (Filter)
- Email address mysteriously disappeared from the system, (FBL)
- Prospecting new members (List Hygiene)
These five points for association email marketers are the most common, the most easily addressed, but often deliverability issues are put on back burner when getting an email out takes priority. I get it. There is only so much time in the day, only so many staff to have eyes on metrics and let’s face it, deliverability is not as cool as creating the content.
I was told recently that when I talked about how to fix these pain points for associations, eyes glazed over and the only thing heard by a marketing mind was “wah wahhhhhh” like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I chuckled. They don’t call them pain points because glitter and unicorns will make them go away. It requires either time on your part or hiring experts to do the work for you. It always comes down to time or money.
If you’re willing to take the time, here is how to get to the root of the 5-biggest pain points…
- Review bounce logs within 48-hours of sending a campaign.
- Address the root reasons for the bounce.
- Submit requests to abuse@ and postmaster@ the bouncing domain to whitelist the IP address of your email platform and also whitelist your domain.
- To get to the root of the invalid/ineligible, you need to run invalids through a reputable list validation tool like BriteVerify or Fresh Address to find true invalids and/or false positives. To address false positives, see item 3 above.
- DKIM, SPF and DMARC txt records need to be added to the DNS of the domain used as your Sender Email. DKIM txt records are supplied by your email platform in many cases, but many platforms allow you to generate your own.
- Bypass email server filters by using authentication. See above.
- Bypass email client filters by asking subscribers in your email template pre-header text to add you to their safelist on all emails so if 1 can get through, they can take action to train their filters and allow all other email through from you.
- Reduce FBL spam complaints and list unsubscribes from globally opting subscribers out of your email database by having an Email Preference Center (EPC), make it obvious to subscribers where/how to access the EPC and ALWAYS send email that honors the subscriber’s preferences.
- Do not purchase a prospect member list from any list provider that supplies you a list of prospect leads that are “Opt In.” They are NOT opted into receive emails from YOU so they are never your “Opt Ins.” If you must purchase a list, reputable list providers will never hand you a data list, rather they will have their own email platform send an email on your behalf and those that clicked the call to action (CTA) can be provided to you. This is what we call a Permission Campaign because you’re asking permission to send them email. This needs to be done the correct way to avoid any irreparable damage to your brand. To illustrate why this is, here is a Return Path Sender Score for the same association who uses 1 platform for purchased lists and another for member communications to show you the difference in IP reputation:
- Run your list through a list validation tool to see if the address still exists if some or all subscribers on an email list have not been sent an email in 3-6 months. Never use your email platform to discover that they no longer exist because that can/will hurt your deliverability. Yes, this includes trying to send an email to last year’s event attendees to market this year’s event.
- To grow your lists organically, use Inbound marketing strategies. This puts the focus on you to create compelling content the marketing is searching for and attracts content consumers to you like sticky paper. There is definitely a shift in the last 2-years to adopt this new way of marketing in the association space.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. It requires recurring tasks-continual babysitting, but if you have time and staff, it’s all doable. If you don’t have time and/or staff, then it may be best to work with a consultant or digital agency to help get your association get to the next level.
By Jenny Lassi, Director of Operations, HighRoad Solution
Chosen and endorsed by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and selected as a top partner to many technology companies, HighRoad Solution proudly supports more than 450 association and non-profit organizations who use HighRoad’s integrated eMessaging solutions to communicate with their constituents to further their mission. Learn more about HighRoad Solution.
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