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Novi Roundtable: Email Deliverability
Novi Roundtable: Email Deliverability
October 9, 2019
Melisa Smith avatar
Written by Melisa Smith
Updated over a week ago

In this week's roundtable, co-hosted by Meg Palumbo, Communications Manager - Triangle Apartment Association and Gjergj Ndoja, Director of Finance and IT - Leadership Florida, we discussed a very popular topic among associations - email deliverability! 

Communicating effectively with your members is critical for member engagement, event registration, member retention, and much more. Have you ever considered that seemingly small things like using too much punctuation (what?!?!?!) in your subject lines or including certain phrases can get your emails sent straight to spam?

We chatted about these things and more - including the benefits of segmenting your target audience for your emails, cleaning/checking the status of your lists, and tips to better your association's  transactional and marketing email deliverability.

Additionally, here are the resources mentioned on the Roundtable (plus some!):


Video Transcription:

Pete: Okay, I think we have everybody. So, I want to go ahead and kick off today's roundtable on email deliverability.

We have a couple of guests today, if you will, it will help to lead the discussion.

First, we have Meg from Triangle Apartment Association. She led this conversation with Melissa at our Novi Summit over the summer. Gjergj from Leadership Florida has done a significant amount of research independently as well, so we wanted to make sure that he was helping us do the discussion, and then obviously Melisa from our side, on the Novi team.

Melisa: Yeah, and I do also want to welcome, we have Bob and Kathy from New York Housing Association. They're currently onboarding, so I gave him the heads up about our roundtable and wanted to welcome them.

Kathy: Thank you.

Pete: That's great! Thanks for joining, for sure.

So, I'm going to kick us off with a couple of questions that I have just to kind of get the conversation going. But really, these roundtables as you guys know, are meant to be interactive and they're not meant to have a very rigid agenda. So, the goal is just to get you guys talking amongst yourselves, and for us to be resources, if we can.

So, we'll start it off and maybe I'll throw this to Meg. First, what for you guys, what does email delivery ability really mean for an association? Obviously, there's a technical definition, but what does it really mean if you are trying to explain it to maybe to your executive director?

Meg: Sure, so first the easiest answer is, how many of your emails are actually making it to someone's Inbox. And then, once they get there, are they actually clicking on something? Are they actually reading something? And there's two different kinds of thoughts that you can think about it when you're comparing yourself to other associations. So the two different schools of thoughts have to do with your actual email lists.

Some associations choose to clean or cleanse their list. Meaning every once in a while, every six months or every year people aren't opening and reading your emails and get rid of them, you take them off the list. They clearly aren't your target group.

For some associations that is definitely not what you want to do. You want to continue to email all of the emails. Whether or not their historical data has shown, they've been clicking and reading. So, if you are never cleansing your list, your open and click rates might be lower than the associations who are cleansing their lists.

So, just keep that in mind when you're comparing yourselves, that deliverability is all about how we are maintaining your list.

Pete: Awesome! And Gjergj the same question. What does email deliverability mean for you guys? And how would you describe it to other stakeholders? 

Gjergj: Yeah, for us deliverability is really trying to reach the maximum amount of members, that we have records on ideally, in a perfect world 100%, but all the research that we're doing is telling us that that's not possible. Just because of the nature of the members are constantly changing their jobs or their positions, and even if the members are not doing it - protection defenses from businesses are becoming always stronger, and in trying to these spam-like emails, which are always becoming clever.

So for us, deliverability means is not a set it and forget it. It means we have to always stay active, always learning, always trying to stay ahead of what spamming us would look like. That's kind of the general statement about it.

Pete: Melisa, how do you see this bubble up in intercom conversations with our customers?

Melisa: Yeah, so kind of just echoing off of what Gjergj and Meg said, it kind of comes down to, you know, someone asking a question like, so and so is not receiving this email… and then we go and look at it, and then maybe that email bounced. So that goes back to what Meg said about cleaning your list. But then it also plays into things. If we're talking about, you know, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, there's a lot of things that you can control. Then, the thing about it to, and this kind of goes with intercom, is that a lot of like your members, their servers,

like they have their own specific spam filters. So, one member might get something just fine, another one is not receiving the email, and the reason you really might not ever know.

I mean servers have their own sometimes crazy spam filters, but usually, if you see something like that, and somebody from ABC company isn't receiving an email, another person from that company probably won't get it either. If they're not using the same email domain. So, those are the kinds of questions I get. But, like I was saying, if you're talking about MailChimp or Constant Contact, there's a lot of things that you can control like subject lines, the content of your messages, and things that will probably talk about with people's questions today.

Pete: Awesome, awesome. So, any more questions on email deliverability, just as a whole. I mean, is there anybody who is hearing this topic and thinking, well does it really affect me? Does anybody have a bad question in the back of their brain? [And I muted a couple of folks just in case. I heard some background noise. So, if for whatever reason you can't get unmuted, feel free to message us in the chat and I'll get you unmute].

Okay, so then moving on to the next question.

If you're developing a strategy, an organization wide strategy. And again, let's just keep this at that level of I'm bringing it to the executive director of our organization.

What couple of tenants would be in that strategy? If you're really talking organization wide all your staff.

What are the two or three things that you really want to land with those individuals Gjergj.

Gjergj: Okay, I do have more than three ..

Pete: What are the most important ones?

Gjergj: I'll tell you how we thought about it and what we're doing about it. So, based on research and I'm gonna try not to go too technical, so that we can kind of move through it fairly quickly. We found out based on research, that email marketing, the domain that is sending that emails has a reputation, just like people have with each other.

This domain has a reputation of what kind of messages it sends. So, the messages could be, we've split into two parts. If they have content in them that it engages our members. So, if they have any interest in what we have to say, and also how we deliver that content, and that is where, how does it graphically look? To the point of Melisa about does it have all caps in the title? Does it have a lot of exclamation points? Does it have heavy imagery? Does it use blind copy? And this, by the way, this is not just emails that we send from the communication platform, from our own emails too, or from QuickBooks, as well as the way that the message is written, and the content, if it's engaging. So, we hit it on both of those.

So, for the way we write the message we have developed ten commandments that we call them based on research. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as you do this, and you get this result. We had to kind of trial and error on those, but we are doing the best that we can. There's a ton of information out there. Our research has been done by my colleague, Tracy Warrington. And when we were comparing it with FSA and other associations, they didn't have any information. If anything, they said we'd like to see what you got. And, they're posting it on Source Magazine, the 10 commandments, that are things that you all probably know about a lot, or Melisa and mag probably know about.

The caps, the making sure that we tagged the images, making sure we have the message that there is an unsubscribe link, so that it's as straightforward and as separated from the spam like you know as possible.

And then at the same time, we also on the content side, we're becoming much more mindful about how we create these emails, and we're even making campaigns that we call -internally- “Click Bait”. We're just trying to get the members to click so that our domain is seen out there by the different defense mechanisms as “Hey! these leadership Florida emails actually engage people”. And one way to do that is, for example, we want to have maybe four times a year, send an email to our members, saying, “Hey! We would love to have your most up to date information. This is what we have on you right now”.

That is we found out that people love to click on information about themselves, so they typically will go for it. They'll give us high deliverability, high engagement ratings, that we need, we will have their most up to date information, which then becomes a perpetual cycle. Because if we don't have the good emails, like Meg said, we're constantly removing the bad emails. We don't want to send those that again, it hurts deliverability. The filter sees you as a loose cannon you're sending your emails that are bad, you're not paying attention to your email lists. So, it gets us to have good email lists and it gets us to engage them. So, it just continuously works together like that. And then another thing that we do, we've tried to build this culture internally for staff. That every time that somebody gets a hint that some information may have changed about a member, we go after it. We try to update it as quickly as possible. So, we're very active in keeping our email lists as up to date as possible, from a staff standpoint, and then when we built our communications, we always keep in mind. Those sides of how we built, how we design it, how we create the message, and the content of the message, is it relevant or not? If it's not, it's probably not good to send. So, I don't know, maybe I went on too long to answer your question, but that's how we're tackling it from our standpoint.

We also got a couple of little tools which are like feedback tools. One is called MX toolbox. It basically gives us “what kind of reputation you have”, it just tells us how we're doing, is just a little feedback. And then, we use another one called G Lock, basically you submit your communication piece, and it writes it. It tells you where there could be potentially an image is either too big, or a word is drawing attention too much, and looks too much like a spammer would right, so it does things like that. And with those, we've done those in the last three quarters, and we are way past the 18% industry standard, and our typical organization, we've increased it by about 24% deliverability. So, this is in the last three quarters, and we're making changes. Again, we think we're going to get that further up, but that's how we're approaching strategically deliverability. That's how we're fighting it.

Pete: That's huge. So, Meg I’ll asked this question. Let's say your executive director finds out we're behind on a certain event, or we really need to push X, Y and Z, and she says “Meg, I don't care what you do, I want you to blast this out to every email, we have”, what do you tell her? 

Meg: So first we have an internal calendar that we use to schedule emails. So, we try not to send more than one a day, and a few a week, so I'll usually look at that, and change priority. So, even if something is scheduled today, if an event or a classes is under performing on attendance, and we need to send an email right now, can that other email today get pushed? Can it get rescheduled to another date? Really trying not to send more than one email a day. Every now and then it happens, because there's important things that may need to go out.

And so, I would say yes, if it's a money-making event, or class, and we need attendance, let's do it!

First thing that I would do is, I would exclude anybody already registered for the event. Let's not spam people who are already registered for something, it's just gonna annoy them. They're not going to read the email because they're like, “Oh, I'm already registered”, or it's going to confuse people because they'll say, “I thought I was already registered, why am I getting this?”. So, I always exclude. And then, the other thing to add on to the sending more than once per day, as I keep in mind, if we've targeted an email, maybe we're sending an email to suppliers. Well, that means the owner operators didn't get an email today. So, we could send a second email today, but it's to a different group of people. So, what's the impact of sending more than one email a day.

Melisa: I will say too with what Meg was saying about like, if you don't want to email people that have already registered for the event, we have an article exactly on how you can do that with groups and Novi, and like sinking over your event list. So, if you're curious about that just check it out at (or here).

And then the other thing you were saying about the calendar, that was something we were talking about at the Summit. And I noticed a couple people at the tables were kind of having a revelation, because they, you know, they have their events person, they've got their membership person, and they've got all these different people with access to like MailChimp and Constant Contact, just kind of freeform sending things out, but not really realizing that they're sending Joe Smith four emails within an hour. So, that was a big thing that I think a lot of people started doing internally.

Meg: I am very excited. In the same way that we can give feature requests to Novi, you can give feature requests to MailChimp, so Novi you all don't just hear from me, I also send feature requests to MailChimp. And they, I don't know if it has anything to do with me because they don't follow up with individual users like you all do when you implement something, but

I've been asking MailChimp for a feature for two years, and they rolled it out last week for those that use it on your campaigns dashboard, you can now see the calendar. So, if you're under campaigns, the tab says standard, and then calendar, and they do it for you. So, you can see a calendar view of what you've sent in the past, and anything that's scheduled for the future, which is amazing!

Melisa: Doesn't MailChimp have a what time is best feature where they start to figure things out for you.

Meg: Yeah, this is my favorite feature, and that's one of our 10 commandments.

On the staff level is, unless it's something that is a sponsorship being released at this time, then we will always use the pick what time is best. What I love about this feature is it doesn't just look at the emails that we're sending. My personal email, who knows how many MailChimp lists I'm on personally, but MailChimp has that data from my email being across 50 different lists of different organizations, and it knows the best day and time that I personally am opening emails. So, if I sign up on a new list, I'm going to start affecting that new list with my day and time. So it's able to figure out what time is best for the viewers of your email, not just when you send, but all emails that recipient receives.

Melisa: That’s awesome.

Pete: It seems like the editorial calendars is definitely an important piece of this. I think the other place that I was looking to kind of scratch at, we've had a couple of customers who have come to us in the past and said, “I want to just email every email address that we possibly could get ahold of, or have gathered in the last 10 years, and I want to mass blast those people XYZ message”. And maybe it's, I would say, maybe there are 50% of associations that really fall into that bucket. I don't think it's a small group. So, what is the consequence? I know what the consequence is. What do you guys feel will the consequence be of doing that?

Gjergj: Because it's fresh for us, before these three quarters that I quoted on what we've done, we were below industry average, and that was a common knee jerk reaction for the person that used to do our communications to try to just blast everybody. And even if the communication platforms here are trying to help us, we're just still trying to force these emails through, and it really hurt our reputation. Our deliverability had just really degraded over time because we were being seen as a domain that does not check, does not care about the lists it sends to, and it was obviously a rate is going to be very poor and is just continuing to get poorer and poorer. 

Because at first you send it to all these people, and some of them are just bad emails. So, you get a bad deliverability right away. Then, you continue to send now defense mechanisms, especially a business to business, they start to block you. They just start to block you because you're not as reliable as a domain, so, they just continue to block you and the rates for us just continued to go down. That's what we noticed in our end for at least year 2017 and ’18 that we have data on. That’s what happened to our domain. 

Melisa: But you know too, even if the email does go through and the email address isn't bad, the people that are receiving that email and they're like, “I haven't been a member for eight years, so I don't really care to see this”. They're just Either deleting it, and not opening it, or they're gonna mark us as spam, or you're going to have a super influx of people unsubscribing, and all of those things combined, as you know, probably from what you were saying, hits you just as hard as having a bunch of bounces and stuff. 

Pete: The next question is, I'm just going back to the executive director, because they sometimes can have a forceful personality and a lot of power, right? which is fun. That's during charge. They're telling you “Send the email to every email address you have”, and it seems like the argument back to that person is, hold on a second, we should really be sending fewer emails, because those will be more impactful, more of them will get through, more will be read. It just seems a little counterintuitive. So, how do we take the technical side that we know is just the truth, and really explain that in a way that stakeholders believe you, and internally, they can understand it so Meg. How does that work in your organization?

Meg: So, my comeback would say, Okay, let's talk about what that looks like. Is it okay if I send different targeted messages? So each email gets one message. But let's say I segment expired members, or prospective members (non-members), and I send them an email. Let's go back to the because I've been attendance low for an upcoming major event, and we want to invite everybody. So, my message to the non-member says, “Hey, now's the perfect chance to come back and rejoin, we have this amazing event coming up, you don't want to miss it!”.

But that's their messages rejoin. So, they aren't reading something where they're saying “I'm not a member, I don't care”.

And maybe we send a message to all the owner operators who are members and say, hey,

this is the events to come, network, hang out with your friends, your coworkers, whatever our catchphrase is. Maybe we send one to suppliers specifically about this is where they want to come mingle, we're going to have X number of people in attendance, this is going to be, again, whatever marketing materials we have for suppliers.

And maybe, you know, we're still reaching all hundred percent of those emails, if that's what we need to do, but we're targeting that message to make it relevant to the recipient.

Gjergj:  Awesome. Yeah, that's very good. We approached it like that as well. We segmented it, so that basically, what the boss said to send to everybody was still done, but we split.

For example, for the inactive members. Those guys, for them it would be a message that is so out of context as to what's going on right now. It may not apply to them. They haven't been active for three plus years. So, we would take that group, and we would say “We want you back” type of message, so that he hears that's what you're missing out.

And that is more appropriate for them, and we still get a low, at least they would read it and then whether they acted on it or not, it's a different story. But at least, we get a good rating of them reading, good deliverability. And then for the others, the main message that is meant for the active members. So, even something as easy, as simple as that to just different messages segmenting it, it delivers a little better and engages our members, and we get to understand their behavior a little better, so that we continue to approach them that way rather than blast them off.

Melisa: And I know, Meg, you can even go as far as sending like messages to people after they have clicked on something like, this platform will let you segment into that level.

Meg: Yeah, I work with our education coordinator and she'll say, you know, hey, I still need four more people to sign up for this class. So, we'll go back, and I'll pull the list of anyone who clicked on the class, but didn't register. So pulling in again that group, that's pushing over from Novi who's already registered, so I can within MailChimp, say send this email to anyone who clicked on this campaign, but exclude anyone who's already registered.

And then, in the body of the email It's like “Hey, we saw you clicked, but you're not registered, can we answer any questions for you? We don't want you to miss out! We only offer this class once per year”.

And occasionally, we'll get people that will respond and say “Oh, it's because I registered my assistant manager”, you know, people actually respond to us because we've made it like four sentences. It's very short and sweet of, like, hey, we saw you click, but what happened that kind of way. So, you can narrow down your target very tight to a very specific message. And the more you can personalize it, so that person thinks you wrote that email for them, the more likely they are to read it, to engage with it, to act on it.

Pete: It's really interesting you said that Meg. I've got a really good friend of mine who owns the largest boat brokerage business in the world, and it's all automated. It's all online, and he's got millions of data points, and when he looks at the emails that his sales team send out, the number one indicator of whether or not the email that they wrote was a good email, was if someone hit the reply button to reply to it. Critical, absolutely critical. So, I'm going to take a second and pause, and I'm going to unmute the folks, that at least I might have muted, and just to open up the floor for questions that you guys might have. I've got some more questions that we can keep this discussion going on, but does anybody have questions for the group or things that they want to accomplish today?

Pete: All right. And I'm gonna hit you guys with a hard one since nobody else had an easy one for you. So, when it comes to email deliverability Gjergj. What do you think you, I don't want to say your organization because it's not fair for you to answer this question in the context of your organization, let's say you and then, your responsibilities here in your organization. What do you feel you still might be getting wrong when it comes to email deliverability?

What do you feel like you might be doing incorrectly or not, as well as you probably should be doing?

Gjergj: Yeah, we probably… the calendar thing. Like having a very thoughtful spread of our messages. I wish that we had a little, I think, as a result of programming and what we got going on, on the research, we found that It is preferred that the communication platform, be consistent in sending messages, and the amount of messages, and to the some sort of a standard audience. It doesn't like to see you sent to 2000 people, and then just a few 2500 people segmentation, and then several months later another 2000 people. I wish that we could like, bring those curves down, have more segmentation, and more consistent messages that are appropriate for our members. But it is a reflection of what we got going on, and we kind of go with that. Rather than do it the other way. That would bring, I think, it would help us further more with deliverability. And I'm sure there are other things that I could be doing better, I just haven't figured them all out yet. We're still reading, we're trying to develop this mentality of just being fluid, always learning, always trying. Tracy's my colleague, she is so curious about this. She'll go in, and we have a server to go into the server and look at the settings for a logarithms. What are the filters, what is it trying to catch, so we can see it from the side of the filters, what is typically a filter look like, so that then we can produce our emails to where they kind of get through and don't get caught by those things.

But I think the main one would be, I wish that we would balance our calendar a little better, and not have stuff like jam together, and then nothing, and then another group of things. That seems to be from what we're reading, seems to be something that would help.

Pete: Meg, What do you think you can improve on?

Meg: Our lists. The controllable aspects and the uncontrollable. So the management companies that have tight spam filters, I would love for our domain to be able to be whitelisted and just starting those conversations, and getting in contact with the person who can make the change.

When someone moves jobs, and they get a new email and we have to track them down if, anyone has a solution for that, you have solved the association problem. You know, we do our very best to track them down and keep up with it all, but we could definitely be better. The other unknowns, you know, just exactly the same, just we don't know, we don't know. And when there's a sync issue for just a moment between Novi and MailChimp, and it doesn't catch up, and how it can be better at predicting what we don't know, and how can I help prevent anything like that or have accountability checks, you know? How can I run some sort of report to check and make sure that It's technology, everything changes every single day. Nothing is going to be fixed perfect, a bow, and then never touched again. So, how can we constantly be monitoring to know when things change and have to move on. So, our own accountability checks and our list. How can we get it to be better.

Pete: Just to go a little bit off script, and to address what Meg just brought up. That's something I've actually chatted with Gjergj about as well. About a month and a half ago, MailChimp updated their code in the way that their API works. Which is essentially the way that we communicate with them. They made an update, it wasn't in any other documentation, that they sent out, and they didn't put anything in the code to tell us, to give us any sort of error notices, or anything like that. So, our codes is still operating the same way it was on June 30th and July 1 comes or whatever the date was, and MailChimp makes the update, our code just continues to operate the old way. And they reached out to us, probably six weeks after that happens. So, this was only like a week ago. Let's say was not that long ago, two weeks ago maybe and it took us a while to figure out what the actual issue was, but we found where MailChimp had made this update and we were able to kind of adjust to it. But it definitely costs some challenges, I think even larger challenges for Gjergj, and that's a great question.

What can we do… that's always a question that we ask. What can we do to find and get notice of those types of things. And we're very proactive, especially on the QuickBooks sync. We run extra checks, like we built like little checks here and there to look for things. What else can we be doing on the MailChimp side.

 I mean, before you send a really important email, maybe it does make sense to just put your eyes on that list and make sure that the list sort of feels right. We do that even with our transactions. You guys notice I mean, again, we're talking about accounting for a second, but we never just send transactions automatically. We always want dues invoices; we want a human to look at them. Maybe a good process would be to look at that MailChimp list or that Constant Contact lists quickly before hitting the send. That kind of takes away some of the automation now. So, what do you guys think.

Gjergj: Yeah, that's it's tough. One thing that we've done Meg mentioned it spot on with the emails. One thing that we're doing. We took this on ourselves is, again, we read that business to business Is really hard to deliver. So what we're doing is especially for the ones who have trouble we immediately get we got the whole staff on the same page about this.

We ask them for their personal email because if we switched from their business their personal now we got a chance. We were removing some of that those restrictions that come from a business. So we're trying to convert as much as we can. Before memberships they personally email. They're switching jobs, three times. It doesn't matter. They're still getting emails, because we got their personal email. And there are Members have not we haven't found a lot of resistance there is every now and then somebody who doesn't is not their primary email or they don't use it as much, but For the most part, the ones that we've Asked Their personal email and it's it's helping us again. Every little piece helps here Trying to add it all up. For greater deliverability. So we're doing that, but it is really hard to be proactive. It's a mentality thing, I think, a culture thing where everyone has to pitch in not just the database manager everyone else who's out there. Meeting with the clients and they hear that this person changed the the alarm should go on that, hey, if, if I don't tell my team that this person just moved this person is not going to receive anything from once for a while and it could go cold. So that's what we're doing Pete. We don’t have a Sure thing. But just like actively keeping our eyes open and Doing it that way.

 Pete: So I want to pivot on what you just said you and Meg. You guys have been on Novi for A couple of years now. But let's say we get a new customer who comes onto the platform and they're very excited. And they're blasting out to their members and, you know, got brand new website new system, blah, blah, blah. And then they start to get the phone calls or they start to get conversation at, say, a board meeting or whatever Is It says, I will get your emails. I'm not getting your emails, though, let's maybe start with Lisa on your end, What's, what's Our Response to them. And then after that, I'll throw it back over to Gjergj and Jenn and ask what you think of that response.

Melisa: Yes, so the first thing we do when somebody says so and so is not getting this email. We obviously asked him who it is and what the email is but we have a tool. It's called SendGrid we Can actually go into this tool and look up I think it's like The last 30 days or so of communication like sent actually from the Novi website not MailChimp or constant contact, but like your website and see Specifically, Was it balanced or dropped or did it deliver and they're just not getting it. And then we take our answer from there. So a lot of the time it says it's delivered, but the person says that they're still not getting it. So when It gets to that point. That means basically that Their server has taken it and done something with it. But since it's, you know, sent there's not really much more information. That we can we can give other than it looks like they're trying to send it. So when that happens, going back to what Gjergj said, usually we say try to get them to to Use like a personal Email, just for a little bit and see if that starts working and if they put in their Gmail or something and they get the emails that is how you know there's something going on with that server. To which we then have Some information that they can give to the member Especially if they've got a lot of people with that member You know where they can talk to their it or something to get it white listed. Which, you know, is not foolproof and some people don't want to use their personal email but We do as much as we can.

Now I know Meg, I think at summit, we were talking about one of the emails that you send out initially. So something like, you know, welcome to TAA. Make sure you out of your address book or like, have your it whitelist. So you're being proactive with that. Now of course if they're not getting an email to start with, then Get that but just in case something changes. I thought that was really good idea.

Meg: Yeah. Um, we have a trigger and an automated email so you can set this up in MailChimp or constant contact and the trigger is anytime a new Email is Added to our list in MailChimp. For example, that's what we use automatically send this email and this specific email says, hey, we've added your email to our database. It means you're going to start receiving our emails were, you were telling them what we're going to tell them we say we send an e news on every Tuesday. Here's the theme of each week, you're going to start getting these. We add in the, make sure you add this email to your safe sender list so that you'll continue to receive these emails. We heard the idea actually came from. A member whose company had been a member forever. And she was the new regional in the area and said, You know, I got your emails and didn't pay any literally just click Delete until I got a dues invoice. And I was like, Wait, we're paying for this. What, what is it, and then she investigated found out what it was joined a committee became a coach or like Ultimately got very involved, but it took five months before she got to dues invoice to even know what we were And she said, I wish I had known when I first came on what your emails even were. So I said, Okay, well, what if, when we added your email to our database Novi You immediately got an email that says you've been added. So that way it could be a new person joining an existing company. Could be a new company who's brand new. It could be a member who worked at Company A and is switching to Company B. And we've updated their email so anytime an email is added. They get this email few caveats. We put in there. This email does not confirm active membership contact us with questions because just because they're getting the email doesn't mean they are a member. So we've added a few things like that, you know, that's that is the place to say Go update your profile, check out our directory, check out our events. And it has I'm pulling it up. Now this specific email that we send has a 31% open rate and a 3.5% click rate. Which is higher than our list average. So the people who are getting this email are reading it and clicking on it more than our other emails. So, so far it's been very effective in telling people what it is that they're signing up for. I really, where's my unsubscribe from this email. Just to give. I don't see it. I'm 34 total people have unsubscribed from 2300 sends. So that's a pretty low unsubscribe number so they know what they're getting into. So proven really effective.

Melisa: I think that you bring up a good point that I didn't really touch on in my answer. So when I was talking about, you know, we can look at the sin grid tool and all that stuff. So there's a distinction between what we call transactional emails and marketing emails. So the transactional emails are things that I mentioned are coming from the site. So somebody requested a password reset they, you know, get an event confirmation email that kind of stuff. Now, Meg has this happening and MailChimp and constant contact And that's different. Those are the marketing emails that you're sending out. So if we get a question that Says, You know, we sent an email through MailChimp or constant contact and so and so isn't receiving this that's kind of a different process for that. You want to first go and look and see, are they in your list. Are they in your group that you're sending to is the group sinking over correctly. Did they unsubscribe. Did they bounce in MailChimp. So there's a lot of different variables, but you guys can actually go and look at that in that tool as well. A lot of the time on your own. So

Meg: That's the first thing I do. If a member comes to me and says, I don't. I didn't get this email before I reach out to you all. I go into MailChimp search for their email and see if it pops up. So I searched MailChimp first And then I can see are they subscribed, first of all, Did they receive this specific email because you can see the history of the email sent. So I can see what email, not only did they receive. But did they open it and then did they click on it. So if they've received the emails, but not opened or click anything that tells me it's stuck in a junk folder, whether it's on their local email or if it's On the domain level, which would be an IT person for their company who needs to fix it. Or I can see somebody did open this email at this day and time, especially with shared emails. Somebody else may have opened it and done something and deleted it. So that's pretty helpful and if their email is in there. They're opening and clicking on it. Usually it's okay let me see on my staff who is, you know, getting those emails and doing something with them.

Pete: Awesome. So Debbie asked a question. She says she's in a place with a lot of noise. So she wants to stay muted, but she would like some more tips on what gets you put on the spam list within an email is all caps, click here. There you go. 

Gjergj: I will send this to her. These are the 10 commandments. I think if we if if we have for her or send and you can forward it or

Pete: Something. Yeah, if you're open to it. I'd love to, to include that along with the recording of today's meeting that way other people could get to it. Is that OK Gjergj.

Gjergj: Yeah of course of course we're sharing this with all four we get a lot of help from other organizations and glad to share that. It's just the mostly how to write it so that it doesn't get caught about. It's all about the caps and the imagery in the Formatting of it and how you're supposed to do.

Pete Zimek Awesome. And in Meg. If you're be willing, we'd love to feature your MailChimp initial email as well that would be If you could send me a screenshot or something. I can grab And I want to, I want to take a minute of personal privilege here, I guess, and go a couple of minutes over, and I want to pivot. Again, just a little bit more. We've been talking about email deliverability and I would say when I talk to folks in associations, it might be 95% of the mentality and the time we're thinking if we need to communicate something we communicate via email. But I think there was a really big aha moment I think George, you and I were the ones that really this kind of connected on the tradeshow floor for ASAE just a few months ago. That's just one part of a communication strategy. That's right. So without going crazy in depth in some of the other parts, just to kind of get our creative juices flowing. What are some other ways that we might want to communicate, just again just bullet brainstorm list and it can come from anybody in the group here. And anyone want to kick us off.

Gjergj: I can just tell you about a couple of thoughts that we've had. And this is, I didn't want to bring it up because this could be Some sometimes avant garde things could just fail or sometimes they make it and they're just too, too far ahead of it, but the more that we read about the email deliverability and the more we realize that email as a way of communication is starting to become a dinosaur. Unfortunately, It is not yet, but it's just the way that it is the way that is being used and what we expect we expect to to get to all of the people, so What we've done. I've already proactively looked a little bit into this. But we're not pulling triggers on anything. And that is the leverage every other medium of communication social media text services. Multiple social media to try to just reach to all those emails that are either heavy, heavy defensive or they just that we don't have their information, but they're still following us in some way. They just can't hear from us, because the email is kind of like becoming like the vinyl of music. It's just slowly slowly is not becoming the main I'm noticing a lot of businesses are using smart Facebook messaging direct messaging really segmented properly. I get that a lot faster than my email. Actually a lot of people tend to use email is kind of, they just read it in chunks on like Halfway through the day and then get through their emails versus other messages that are more instantaneous and maybe more if if delivered appropriately could get to them could get them better. So these are a couple of thoughts that I have That we've come to Austin our heads, but not done anything with yet. 

Pete: We have the round table. A few weeks ago with feather. So we're talking about ways of grabbing folks using retargeting and remarketing, if you will, postcards. I mean, there's a cost to it, but maybe the event is that important. Maybe that's something you should do or I know that a lot of associations have toyed with getting rid of their magazines or maybe keeping their magazines and big fights sort of internally. On that I don't read magazines, but I do engage on the email. So maybe that's the thing we've got, I think. So if you guys know we've been exploring an online community platform. Option something that we can kind of merging with Novi and work with know beyond. So that's something that keep your ear to the ground. We'll have more information in the next few months. Are there any other things, just again get those creative juices flowing. Couple more bullet points. Man Yeah, absolutely.

Meg: So yes, put your message everywhere, but it doesn't need to be the same message. And I think that's Key if people start to read the same two sentences on every platform, they're going to start ignoring your messages, because they assume they're all the same. So when you're posting on Facebook. It should be different than what you're posting on Instagram, your audiences. There are not necessarily the same And if you individually are saying I don't use Instagram. I'm not going to post there. Well that's missing an entire segment of your audience that does use Instagram and the message should be tailored right Instagram is more about images and emotions and feelings. Whereas Facebook is more about call to action and do this and do that. LinkedIn is usually more business like grow yourself, grow your career. Versus an email that don't give them 100% of the details. If you give them 100% of the details. They're not going to click on learn more. So maybe leave off the price. Maybe you leave off the timing. You know, leave something off that's really going to make them want to click and to learn more and a magazine. Same thing. Shouldn't have the exact same message. It should have the keynotes to the readers of that target group. And so the research has just done what group is reading what source and how you can determine what message to put there.

Pete: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. Kelly asked a question she wants. She said that MailChimp offers emoji as an additional as an addition to subject lines. How do we feel about this doesn't emoji make a subject look more like spam or is it helpful. 

Melisa: That's a good one. I, I got some emails from a couple companies and stuff that have them in there. And as long as it's a one. Personally, I don't feel like it looks like spam, I'd have to look into what the actual servers and stuff, saying, but I think the issue you might run into is On certain browsers or certain email platforms that people use that emoji might not show up. It might just look like a little box so that can definitely look like spam.

Gjergj: Yeah, I agree with you, Melissa. That's a it's not written somewhere spelled out for us. But we can just do really emphasizing emotion on an email seems to be the spammers way of getting to people and getting people to click on that wrong email. So if we dial that down on our, on our 10 commandments. We have if you put a ton of exclamation points are trying to really emphasize something And that's what they do to get people to click so we should see spammers continue to use more and more these emojis. I would think, because they want to get to the people. But if we keep it under control, maybe Just elegantly placing it in there or not. So not too much one exclamation point, for example, is ok so i would think maybe in emojis. Okay, and then watching it to if it's, if it's not going Let's stop doing it and then get back to just straightforward messages. But that's just some false. That's my opinion.

Melisa: There's a stat here, I just looked it up. It's a study done by Experian, or a report and it said that 56% of the brands they were looking at using emojis actually had a higher open rate.

Meg: We've gotten into using them occasionally, like you said, not all browsers will accept it. So you never want to use it in place of a word. So if we use them. We use them at the end of the subject line so that if they show up, they're added. But if they don't show up. You can still understand what the subject line is Or if you've got it within you need to still have the words so that those devices that don't show the emoji. They aren't missing the message.

Melisa: Yeah.

Pete: Awesome. Was there anything else you guys wanted to ask or discuss cover today?

GDAA Alyssa Hanson We just have to say something about the emoji situation. I have a hard time using emojis and and being a spam, you know, trying to get our members attention that way. And I know it's the direction that You know, we need to move. But I think it's important to note that, you know, knowing your knowing your members and knowing that audience is also important and We have, we haven't actually tried to use the emojis, yet we're just now to the point. And this is just where we are and graphically. That that we're even trying. You know where you utilizing clever taglines and certain phrases to get them to click and that's sometimes feels like I'm cheating them. Or, you know, trying to trick them into information that I know that they need. So, yeah, yeah. Again, and it's just a. It's interesting to me that we that we're having emoji conversation. Yes, I just never thought it would happen, you know. 

Pete: You just need to test it. Yeah. Are people engaging it If they're not, then you need to move on.

Melisa: There's a couple resources that I will link in the Help article where will include this video because I was doing some research on subject lines, but there's a tool you can use Where you can actually put in your subject line and it. All right, it kind of like a tool that dirt was looking at. And then there's also one that I found that's it's called the ultimate List of email spam like word triggers and subject lines. So I think that'll be helpful to

Meg: I always say to actually write your subject line last. A lot of times when you write your email in MailChimp or constant contact, it asks for your subject line first. So you write it First, but you may not have that creative juice. First, so stick something in there for leave it blank, write your content and then go back and the other thing I always try to do Because I right, how many subject lines, every day, it starts to get tedious and you're like, oh my god, I can't think of anything else unique and read it to yourself and think, would I click on this. If the answer is no. Keep keep trying, come up with something that's a little catchy, maybe a little funny and not over exaggerating. You don't want your members to get inundated with act now when okay there's four weeks left to register maybe act now was a little excessive but just Honest but funny. Would you click on this and that's really hard to do when you write five subject lines. A day scheduling emails out but just taking a moment to think what I when I click on this is an interesting enough

Melisa: I think it's funny that you use that example because one of the sites, I was looking at they use act now as an example of you like looking like the brand that cried wolf like they'll start to not believe you. 

Meg: Other phrases you can use to instill that sense of urgency, you can say Don't miss out. You can say don't be the last one to register, you can say all your colleagues are already signed up you there. You can rephrase it in a way that gets that sense of urgency, but doesn't sound. Clickish and overused.

Pete: That's wonderful. Thank you guys so much. Kathy asked where we can, where she could find a help article at That's our That's our Help section and there's a section in there for nobody roundtables and almost all of these roundtables we record and we will post within about two days or so from the actual Roundtable.

One last thing before we kind of close up here. One thing to remember when we're thinking about email deliverability is that all of us are consumers when it comes to email as well. And it might be a pain in the neck for us as email senders but we're very thankful and appreciative that Gmail and outlook and Other stakeholders along the way, are, they're really helping to remove clutter from our inbox. I want to say this research was from maybe five or six years ago, but at that point something like 97 or 98% of all email sent on the planet are not delivered. 

Thankfully, because if they were delivered. We couldn't function with an inbox. That was filled with clutter. So it's our goal to try to ensure that our message. Is engaged and therefore gets delivered. So thank you guys so much for joining us and can't wait to see you on the next round table or have a great one. 


Thank you everyone. Bye.

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