You have an important mission to promote!
Emails are a cost-effective and efficient way to make appeals to donors and communicate your mission to them.
But most people receive tons of emails every day. Some are important and are read. Others are marked as spam and go to the trash folder, never to see the light of day again.
Keep your email list clean
Practicing good email hygiene is important! Every 3-6 months, take some time to weed through your email list.
Good email hygiene affects the deliverability of your emails. If your nonprofit wants emails delivered to your donors, it matters — a lot! Keeping your email list “clean” is one of the best ways to ensure that your appeals and updates get to the people who support you.
If you want to maintain good email hygiene, clean these 3 groups of people out of your email list:
People who haven’t opted in (no bought lists!)
Mailing to subscribers who have opted in is the best way to make sure your emails are going to those that truly want them.
Ensure there is a newsletter opt-in option on your website (that is clearly visible) that requires minimal effort to fill out. Make it an option on your donation form or home page.
Nonprofits depend on sending emails to bring in donations! Emails are also a great way to send reports and keep donors updated. The only way you can ensure that your appeals and updates are effective is to send them only to people who want them. Now is the time to delete contacts that did not opt in like this.
Pro tip: Don’t buy email lists. They are notorious for causing email hygiene issues. You don’t want unsolicited emails in your inbox, so why expect someone else to want them? Unwanted emails are annoying and, honestly, don’t come across as genuine or professional. ESPs (Email Service Providers) will be on the lookout for suspicious emails and can mark you as spam. Spam traps are real, and they can cause enormous headaches. Don’t let a bad list tarnish your nonprofit’s communications reputation.
Invalid addresses are easy to spot when sifting through an email list. Typos, duplicates, and emails with no domain are great examples of addresses to delete.
When you look at your list of bounced emails, take time to double check for spelling errors or typos. If a typo isn’t the culprit of the bounced email, it’s time to look at the domain. A bad domain will drastically effect deliverability rates. If the domain name doesn’t have an email server associated with it, the address is invalid.
Invalid email addresses can result in high bounce rates and lost gifts. Removing outdated or invalid email addresses is important for the long-term success of your engagement efforts.
Addresses that regularly bounce emails
Bounced emails can be frustrating. What makes them even more frustrating is the different types of bounced emails! There are two main types: soft bounces and hard bounces. How do you know which is which?
A soft bounce occurs when the user has a full inbox or when a server is down. Give this address more than one chance! If it bounces emails more than 2 times, it is safe to consider it a hard bounce and scrub them from the list. A hard bounce occurs when the email address doesn’t exist any longer. It can also mean that they actively blocked your emails.
Remember those spam traps? Addresses that hard bounce emails more than once may be a spam trap. Clearing these emails off your list is crucial!
Over time, people change their minds and behaviors, and a once-interested person may no longer interact with your emails. They may delete them without ever opening them, or they may not use that account anymore. Formerly-interested subscribers who no longer open your emails hurt your lists’ overall performance.
If a contact hasn’t opened your emails in 6 months or longer, it negatively affects your list hygiene. An inactive address that still receives emails may notify the Email Service Provider that your domain or email is spam. Monitor open rates and remove inactive accounts to maintain proper email hygiene.
Keep supporters and donors engaged long-term
Email hygiene is easy to overlook. Fundraising is fun but can be a frenzy of activity — it’s easy to neglect cleaning up your lists! But effective fundraising starts with proper communication. Anything that negatively affects your communication also affects your fundraising.
It’s so important to keep supporters happy and engaged. You have an important message to share and you want to make sure they see it! Start practicing good email hygiene now so your organization has the best chance of sharing your message.