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What is email deliverability and why should you care? 

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver mail to your donors inbox. This sounds simple right... make a list of donors, create an email, and hit send; what could go wrong? Plenty! The more you learn about this topic, the more you realize it's an art and science. 

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According to Sendgrids email deliverability statistics, 21% of emails never get delivered, and we're not talking about ending up in spam... they never even make it to the person's mailbox. Add that to the fact that 20% of commercial emails that are delivered, end up being marked as spam.

This is what email deliverability is all about.

Did you know?

  • The IP address you send your emails from as well as your domain has a "reputation" with the different ISP's you send mail to.

  • Major ISP's use old email addresses no longer used by the owner as spam traps to expose and block emails from senders who are not proactively managing their email marketing practices. 

  • Sending a consistent volume of emails on a monthly basis affects your reputation. 

  • You should verify your email addresses before you hit send to lower your hard and soft bounce rates.

  • Authentication of (DKIM, SPF, TLS) is critical to deliverability.

  • An industry best practice is to send your mass email (promotions, eligibility reminders) and transactional email (appointment confirmation/reminder, reset password) from different email and IP addresses.

The above list is just scratching the surface, which is my many blood centers choose to work with services such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact. Although these are good they have drawbacks. Primarily, they are not integrated with industry donor recruitment or LIS platforms, leaving exporting and importing donors as the only option, which makes list management difficult and time-consuming. 

There are so many factors at play regarding email deliverability and it's a mix between doing your job to manage your email marketing lists properly and then backing that up with the right technology.


Your Job

  • Donor Consent/Opt-in Lists (don't buy lists).

  • Consent... How long should it last, 1 yr, 2 yr, 10yr?

  • List segmentation.

  • Consistent monthly volume (avoid blasting everyone in your database).

  • Welcome messages and making it easy to unsubscribe.


  • IP address management (dedicated vs. shared or both).

  • Spam traps and spam filtering technology.

  • Authentication (DKIM, SPF, TLS).

  • Mass vs transactional email.

  • Monitoring (reputation, blacklists).

  • Bounce handling.

  • Email address validation.

  • Email formatting, especially for mobile.

To add to all of this, things are constantly changing, and for smaller non-profits operating on budget, it's difficult to keep up with the fast pace of technology. 

This is by no means an exhaustive whitepaper on email deliverability, although there are many great ones available for free online. We do hope, however, this has been useful in bringing awareness to a difficult and complicated topic.

As you can see, reaching the inbox is no easy task.

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