Best practices for sending emails with Messages

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Email messaging best practices overview

It's important to deliver Messages that your community wants to receive and avoid sending out the messages they don't. The best way to ensure your Messages reach inboxes is to send timely and relevant emails to an active and engaged audience. Follow these best practices and tips to help your mailings reach their intended audience.

Consider what message type you should use

  • Become familiar with the difference between Promotional Messages and Important Announcements. Verify you're remembering that: 
    • Promotional Messages will likely make up the bulk of what is being sent. (e.g. day-to-day Messages allowing people to subscribe or unsubscribe as they see fit, newsletters, fundraising events). 
    • Important Announcements are "required to fulfill a contract", ignore global unsubscribes, and will also not contain an unsubscribe link (e.g. deadline for re-enrollment, school closing).
  • Try your best to honor the expected frequency and content of your mailing list. For example, if it's a weekly newsletter mailing list, try not to send any other type of Message to this mailing list besides that content, being sure to keep it to a once a week send. If recipients receive only the content they are expecting at the times they are expecting then they will be less likely to unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Use tags for internal organization

Tags in the Posts module are helpful for external purposes with Post Tools elements, but tags in the Messages module exist for internal organizational purposes.

  • Keep organized by using a tags system for messages with similar topics (e.g. newsletters, weather alerts, upcoming events, afterschool tutorials) so that you can search and filter within the backend of the Messages module.
  • Filter the messages you'd like to display in a Messages element that you had tagged a certain way for even more streamlining and efficiency. 
  • Clone a previous message so that you can make a few edits and re-send as a time saver! 

When a message is open, scroll down to the Internal Use Only section to add your Notes and Tags.

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Make users aware of consent preferences

You can improve user experience overall by making users aware of their Consent Preferences (read more in our Knowledge Base: Consent Preferences). Some users may prefer to go with Preferences such as 'My Choice' so that they have more power over what ends up in their inbox, as well as the option to be added to mailing lists. This makes them less likely to add your mail as spam and helps build a good level of trust between you and your recipients.

  • Set recipient expectations clearly when users subscribe. Let them know what mail to expect, how often it will be sent, and what it will look like.

Allow users to easily unsubscribe

Under the federal CAN-SPAM Act (and several other international variations), an Unsubscribe link is mandatory in all bulk emails for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Making sure that you have an Unsubscribe link is a great way to allow users to unsubscribe at all times and shows that you comply with CAN-SPAM law - see more about that here: Comply with CAN-SPAM: Unsubscribe link.

With Messages, you have the ability to send “Important Announcement” emails that omit the unsubscribe link and let you contact your constituents whether or not they have unsubscribed. Learn more about this type of email in Promotional messages vs Important Announcements. It’s important to deploy these messages with great care, however, because not including an unsubscribe link in a message is a classic sign of a spammer. 

unsubscribe link.png

Spam filters and sender reputation monitoring services look for an unsubscribe link as an indicator of legitimacy. Emails that don't have an unsubscribe link are very likely to be filtered as spam and never delivered to the intended recipients. And if it makes it to the inbox, research shows that emails that do not feature an unsubscribe link have a much greater probability of being reported as spam to an Email Service Provider. If someone doesn't want an email, you are far better off if they unsubscribe rather than reporting your email as spam. In the US and around the world, sending spam is against the law.

Remove suppressions on a case by case basis

It's important to only remove suppressions in Messages when a user has reached out to you to advise that they should have received an email but haven't. The reason for this is that it's essential to keep your email sender reputation score high and healthy. An email sender reputation is a score that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to any organization that sends email. It's better to keep this score high, as the higher the score, the more likely it will be that an ISP will deliver emails to their recipient's inboxes. If the score falls below a certain level, the ISP may send messages to recipients’ spam folders or even reject them outright. So, in order to make sure you keep your score high and healthy, make sure that you only remove suppressions for users who have reached out to advise that they should be getting mail but are not. For for an in-depth walkthrough on how to decide if you should unsuppress a user, read "Troubleshoot recipients who are not receiving emails in Messages."

Help your Messages avoid Spam Filters

There are certain things that spam filters will look out for when trying to identify whether or not your Message content is spam. Here are a few examples of what to avoid in order to keep your Messages Content out of those filters:

  • Use of all caps within the subject line and within the Message itself.
  • Use of links that lead to 404 errors or do not redirect to the correct content/page.
  • Excessive use of punctuation and emojis especially in the subject line. This can lead to a tone that sounds like phishing.
  • Asking directly for money/payment within the subject line (this can sometimes sound like a phishing scam to Spam Filters).
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