This the fourth post in an ongoing series about email deliverability. Our first post covered email list health, we covered sender reputation in our second, and touched on authentication our third post.

email content

If you have ever had the “pleasure” of doing work on a home, you have probably felt the pain of how much energy/time/money goes into the parts of the house nobody can see nor appreciate. You know the ones: plumbing, wiring, insulation, etc. These projects, while most likely to make you openly weep to your contractor –hypothetically, of course – are also the ones that make your house able to support the “visible” projects like design, paint, and furniture choices.

Welcome to the world of email deliverability. 

If email lists, sender reputation, and authentication are your invisible renovation work, email content is what your guests get to actually see. Email content can be the final variable in whether or not your emails reach your constituents’ inboxes. A few tweaks and habit changes can really make a difference, and, best of all, you won’t even have to weep to a contractor! 

Re-imagine your images

Images are important to your email’s messaging, formatting, and power. However, your images might be affecting your ability to get your organization’s emails into your constituents’ inboxes. By keeping a few key tips in mind can help you avoid common mistakes. 

Do not create your email as one large image. Sometimes it is tempting in order to avoid formatting issues, but there are a few issues with this approach:

  1. First, email service providers (ESPs) often look at the text-to-image ratio when they score content for delivery. An email with just an image and very little text will have a very high risk of being flagged as spam and your beautifully-designed image will never make it to your constituents’ inboxes at all. 
  2. Second, if an image-only email somehow isn’t flagged by an ESP, most users will not automatically set their emails to automatically download images for security reasons. If this happens, your constituents will have to actively click and download images in order to read your email, which might lose a large share of your potential readers. 

So, sending your email as one image to prevent formatting issues is out. What should you do instead?  

Always size your image to the correct size before sending so you aren’t relying on your users’ devices to resize it for you. Trying to send a full-size image might result in a break in your formatting and a clunky experience. Pixel Ruler and Adobe Spark are two free tools you can utilize for this.

Consistency is key

Now, there are a few less concrete, but still useful, tips on content to help your email deliverability.

First, be mindful of phrases that sound like spam. ESPs can flag these phrases and send emails to users’ spam folders, especially if your organization has a high bounce rate. While most of these are easy to avoid (such as, “pennies on the dollar!!!!”), others might be a bit sneakier, such as, “free gift.” If you use these phrases judiciously and with good copywriting along with the mandatory unsubscribe and privacy policy links, you should be fine.

Next, include your organization’s name in the “from” section. Sometimes it might be tempting to put a person’s name instead of your organization so your constituents see “From: Mark”, but this might set off alarm bells. If users have to guess whether an email is safe to open or not, you might get spam reports instead of opened emails.

Finally, keep your branding and design easily recognizable. Once you have a well-designed email template that has been tested across multiple platforms, our advice is to stick with it. Your emails do not – and should not! – all look the exact same, but your constituents should be able to recognize immediately the email is from your organization and your brand.

As Vice President of Digital Services, Molly helps nonprofit organizations develop digital solutions to communicate their mission, reach monetary goals, and create real world impact. Molly believes in the power of technology for change.

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