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A New Year's Resolution: Set A Clear and Concise Email Policy

As we welcome in the new year, it’s time to start cleaning house, and thinking about laying out some guidelines for the upcoming year. It’s always good to set out with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and guidelines you want to work by. Why not make a few new year resolutions right now?

One such document you might want to give some thought to is a set of email guidelines and definitions. Whether you’re an established user of email, or you’re preparing to implement a new product such as Blackbaud Internet Solutions™, it’s a good idea to have a clear and concise policy surrounding the sending of email as it’s not a topic to be taken lightly.

As Blackbaud point out in their email resource center, it’s not just them as the email service provider that is responsible for the delivery of email; the client (you) also has a role to play in email deliverability. You have a responsibility to help reduce the number of unwanted emails; and it’s important to act responsibly, respect your recipients, and protect your sender reputation.

So where do we begin? Creating a list of guidelines that will set expectations is a good place to start. Here’s a few that might help to get you started:

  • Create a master email distribution calendar, appoint someone to manage it, and make sure everyone knows who that person is and what their responsibility is in relation to making it work.

  • Make sure everyone know the rules:

  • No email messages can be sent without prior approval.

  • If the distribution date an email changes for any reason, the sender must schedule an alternative date without delay.

  • Broadcast emails are general information and/or solicitation emails sent to a specific audience. These targeted emails, as any other email, must be scheduled on the master email distribution calendar and sent through the accepted email tool. This will aid in tracking and optimizing the number and timing of messages sent.

  • Your Blackbaud CRM™ database provides robust tracking and monitoring of communications. Discourage the use of shadow databases and third party email broadcast systems that aren't approved by the organization.

  • If the number of event emails being sent seems heavier than necessary, consider limiting their number, for example:

  • Limit initial email announcements for events to an invitation and one reminder message.

  • Prior to the event follow-up with event registrants but limit it to the automatically generated confirmation email that goes out when registering for the event plus one reminder to all registrants approximately 3-5 days prior to the event.

  • After the event follow-up with event attendees is optional and should be limited to one thank you or survey email to those who attended the event.

  • All event related emails must be scheduled like any other email.

  • Have editorial and design guidelines that all messages must adhere to; and make sure that they are available for everyone to access. Ensure that all email communications are built using departmental-specific email templates developed to meet publishing guidelines.

  • Make it understood that messages will be restricted to those that pertain directly to your organization and are clearly relevant to your audience. Some requests may not be granted if the message is deemed inappropriate.

  • Each department, school, site, etc. should take responsibility for ensuring one person is proficient in using the email tool, and serves as the point person for email-related questions from others within the organization..

  • Point out to your users that the email recipient doesn’t distinguish the origin of communications from various parts of your organization; every person with the ability to send email is responsible for maintaining both the overall and individual relationships between recipient and yourselves.

Maintaining high standards when it comes to broadcast email communications is imperative to avoid negatively impacting your reputation in the community. Users must be judicious with the use of mass email; let’s not give recipients any reason to click that unsubscribe link!

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