As the amount of e-mails sent to consumers and donors has increased, the use of e-mail filters to sort spam and unwanted e-mails has as well. An e-newsletter that gets caught in a filter and fails to get delivered is a missed opportunity to touch a would-be donor or build a relationship with a long-time constituent.
Nancy Schwartz, president of marketing and communications firm Nancy Schwartz & Company, says there are techniques that nonprofits can employ so their e-newsletters don’t get caught in filters. She touches on these in the article “Avoiding Filters — 11 Tips for E-Newsletter Success,” which appears on her Web site. Recently, she took some time to run through the basics of each of the 11 tips.
1. Research your e-newsletter service provider. This has implications for all of your e-touches. Make sure your service provider is on the white list (protected list) of personal e-mail service providers such as AOL, Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! — to name a few — so your messages will get through.
2. Only send your e-newsletter to those who opt in. Schwartz says a single opt-in process is essential (actually, a legal requirement). You can’t just add people’s names to an e-newsletter subscriber list. A double opt-in policy is even better and prevents spammers from registering for your e-newsletter. When people subscribe to your e-newsletter, send them an e-mail that includes a link that they must click on to confirm their subscription.
3. Make it easy for e-newsletter recipients to unsubscribe or change their subscriber information. “In our increasingly transitory world, folks are changing jobs and e-mail providers all the time, so you want to make it easy for your subscribers to manage their subscription, as a courtesy,” Schwartz says.
4. Once you’ve drafted and formatted your e-newsletter, run it through a spam filter. How many times do you use all caps? How many times do you include words such as “click” and “free”? These words are red alerts for spam filters. Use the spam filter test to see what can be corrected so that what you deliver is as clean as it can be.