SSC Toolbox Social Source Commons Blog

Nonprofit Tech, Tools and Social Media

A program of Aspiration 

What Do You Wish You Had Known About Email Blasting Tools?

The Background

Stop. Put down the Outlook. Emailing a billion people (or just 25 or so) through your Outlook BCC line can put you on a spam list faster than a whozeewhatsit flegs a bongersnaf. You heard me. But seriously people, emailing a group of people the same message is a big deal in the security of the internet and you need to do it right so that your organization’s emails don’t go straight to someone’s spam. Emailing with a large number of BCCs can trigger spam detectors at your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or email provider not only flagging your individual email address but also your entire domain, meaning that not only will your emails be labeled as spam but anything else coming from the same domain. Super lame.

The proper way to send email to your constituents as an organization is to use an email blasting program otherwise known as a bulk email tool. Whatever it is called, the idea is that these services have agreements with email providers like Yahoo and Google and ISPs that say “The people who send email through our service are not spam. They’re legit. Trust us.”

The Question

Ok. So the right way to send bulk email is through a dedicated tool or service. Got it. Which one?

Rather than write another blog post about how the different tools stack up, which has been done far better than I can do by organizations like Groundwire and Idealware (see box at right), I was hoping that you could share your insights about what nonprofits starting out with bulk email tools should know.

What tool gets the job done for you? What do you wish you had known before you had dived into that tool for your org?

I’ll start: We use Vertical Response which is decent but if you don’t know HTML, the template editor can be a bit of a pain sometimes.

Your Turn.

5 Comments to What Do You Wish You Had Known About Email Blasting Tools?

  1. December 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Have a test group of staff emails- I use my yahoo, gmail, hotmail, work and a couple of other addresses. Send you email out as a test to the test group. Test. Test. Test. Then Test one more time before you send.

  2. December 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Great tip, David! It’s incredible how I’ll do tests and tests and tests and then send out the email, realize something was wrong and I think to myself “I should have done more testing…”

    Also, Outlook? The bane of email messaging existence.

  3. December 4, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    There are some similarities w/ david’s comment above…but if want to improve your open, click-through, and response rates, you really should a/b test different subject lines, images, etc. to a smaller subset of your recipients, and THEN send the final mail to the rest of them.

    A/B testing can take a little more time up front, but when it’s improving your open rate and the likelihood that your recipients will actually read and act like you want them to, it’s 100% worth it.

    (BTW, I’m always looking for recommendations on good e-mail based A/B testers if anyone has thoughts!)

  4. December 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey Todd! Thanks for the tip about A/B testing! It’s definitely important as an organization goes from starting out with bulk email sends to having a more strategic process about engaging members through email.

    I feel like it’s a more or less advanced bulk email skill, though, don’t you think? Or do you recommend that people starting out should dive right into A/B Testing?

  5. December 17, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    People might also be interested in this conversation around email blasting etiquette (via Deborah Elizabeth Finn):

Connect with SSC

RSS Feed  Twitter  Facebook

Aspiration Publications