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Why a Media Buyer Needs to Know about Email Deliverability

Author: Lauren Cathey Date: 09/22/2020

 

On August 12th, 2020, the DMAW hosted the educational webinar 5 Steps to Improve Your Email Deliverability. If you are wondering why National Fundraising Lists is blogging about Email Deliverability, read on!

The session was extremely informative, exploring tips and tricks to get your emails delivered and opened. Sarah Robie from World Wildlife Fund was the webinar’s host, and deliverability is a major part of her job. When she started at WWF in 2008, she wanted to see their program flourish. And that it did, becoming the leader of email deliverability in their sector by 2016.

One of the first things she tackled in her role was confronting and beating this statistic: 1 out of every 5 commercial emails never reaches the inbox. How did she do this? Much like with good direct mail list hygiene, Sarah started her quest for better deliverability by cleaning up the subscriber file. Once the data was clean, they started seeing better inbox placement, but knew they could do better. After this preliminary initiative, the first next step she took was to examine engagement.

By emailing the more engaged subscribers on the WWF file, Sarah was able to eliminate the people who weren’t opening emails, which lowers deliverability, and keep the same/bettering open rates. This is much like targeting a last 6-month recency on a mail file versus the last 12 months. Talking to people when they’ve recently engaged is a crucial way to connect with the audience that is ready to listen.

The second and most important step, in my opinion, is to use secure acquisition sources. By using an email validation tool like Fresh Address or Bright Verify, you are ensuring that the addresses being solicited are valid and won’t get you caught in a spam trap (or nowhere at all). In the direct mail world, this is the difference between renting a true donor file and renting a compiled or multi-sourced file. While NFL does not offer compiled files, we do have true donor files and self-reported data with clean deliverable mailing addresses AND verified and opted-in email addresses.

That’s right! NFL now offers fully integrated data for your prospecting efforts, so attending this webinar goes beyond just “interesting ideas”, to actionable solutions.

Sarah’s third step is to focus on communicating and engaging with your most involved subscribers. Talk to the people on your email list that are opening emails and their wallets and talk to them often. By plotting a targeted cadence with engagement, you can increase the deliverability of your emails while cultivating your donor base when and how they want to be talked to.

The fourth step is to optimize your HTML code and use all secure links. In addition to these precautions, she also had some thoughts on accessibility:

  • Use larger font sizes
  • Use descriptive alt tags
  • Left-align your copy
  • Text links should be in high contrast colors
  • Optimize emails for dark mode

Last but not least, step five applies to ALL marketers: monitor your results! By staying on top of your domain reputation, sends/opens, unsubs, hard bounces, spam complaints, etc., your engagement WILL increase, and your inbox placement WILL go up!

If you take one thing away from this recap blog, let it be this: Regardless of your marketing medium, take care to cultivate and steward the donors who are donating to you. It can be tempting to “spray and pray”, as the saying goes, but by selectively targeting your audience you can be more impactful and create a deeper connection with your donors.