Has it been a while since your campaign sent an email to its list? It’s not uncommon for a candidate to let their list go dark for a year or more between elections. But before you fire it up and start emailing past supporters again, there are a few important steps you need to take.
Sending a marketing email and having it actually seen and acted upon by donors or supporters are two different things. Your ability to get emails delivered to inboxes – not spam folders – relies on email authentication, infrastructure, and sender reputation. Follow these steps to ensure each component is in place.
Clean Your List
Many of your subscribed email addresses will no longer be active if it’s been more than a year since you sent an email. Email inbox providers keep an eye on how many bounced (undeliverable) emails you send. It’s a good indication that you’re using an old or purchased list and subscribers did not opt-in to receiving messages from you.
A service like BriteVerify will scan your list and remove any emails that are likely to cause bounces or otherwise be undeliverable. Removing these inactive emails boosts the engagement rate for your email by lowering the denominator of recipients.
Ensure Your Domain Is Authorized
Authenticating your email marketing platform – like Mailchimp or Constant Contact – to send from your domain (YourName.com) helps with deliverability and inbox placement. Email inbox providers like Google and Yahoo expect email marketers to have these records in place to protect their users from cyber scams like phishing or spoofing.
Follow these instructions to update your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records. If you’ve switched email marketing platforms since your last send, this is especially important.
Update Your Email Template
Send a test email to yourself and check every single link in your template. Is the unsubscribe link easy to find and working? Is your campaign’s address current? Are the required disclaimers for your campaign present?
Slowly Ramp Up The Sends To Your List
After you’ve cleaned your list and prepared to send, don’t just start blasting away. Suddenly sending to thousands of recipients after a year or more of silence means your messages will be confused for spam.
Instead, slowly ramp up your sending to steadily build your reputation and maintain inbox placement. Depending on the size of the list, I like to divide the sends daily over the course of a week, like this:
- Day 1: Send to 100 recipients
- Day 2: Send to 200 additional recipients
- Continue doubling every day or so until you have emailed all of your contacts
The extra work is minimal because you’re simply copying the same email and sending it to a new segment each day.
Focus on Re-engagement First
Instead of asking for money right away, start by re-engaging your lists with calls to action that will drive more clicks and interactions.
- Send an issue survey and ask supporters what they care about.
- Ask your subscribers to sign up as volunteers for your campaign.
- Invite email subscribers to receive a free bumper sticker or yard sign.
Not only do these actions help your campaign, they promote your sender reputation and give you more data about subscribers you can use.
Your email list is your campaign’s most valuable digital asset. If it has gathered some dust since your last campaign, don’t worry, but follow these steps to ensure it comes back to life at full strength.