The three main components to a client’s email reputation are the:
  • Mailing system that delivers the messages
  • Message content
  • Client’s list management
Mailing System
Blackbaud Internet Solutions provides clients with market leading outbound infrastructure technology and services that support message delivery, including Blackbaud NetCommunity and Blackbaud Sphere.

The key components of the system include:
  • Suppression methods. Blackbaud suppresses email addresses because messages to those recipients previously failed delivery attempts, the recipients opted-out of the email lists, or the recipients indicated the messages were SPAM. Blackbaud uses these methods because they help maintain favorable reputations with internet service providers (ISPs). Most ISPs track and block senders who repeatedly attempt delivery to invalid email addresses or recipients who indicate they do not want the messages. 
  • Whitelisting. Whitelists are lists of approved senders that ISPs maintain to recognize legitimate email senders when messages are sent in large quantities. Blackbaud maintains whitelist status with the major ISPs to allow clients to bypass some (but not all) of the spam filtering process and increase the chances that their messages will appear in recipients’ inboxes.
  • Throttling. Throttling restricts the number of concurrent connections Blackbaud’s system makes with ISPs when sending bulk email messages. Blackbaud throttles the number of email messages it sends to ISPs based on the specifications each ISP uses. This process is important for deliverability because some ISPs return messages as undeliverable if too many messages are received from one sending address at a time.
  • Email limits. Most client email is sent from shared IP addresses, and the actions of one client can negatively impact deliverability for others. Therefore, Blackbaud enforces an email limit of 10,000 messages per mailing for new clients to protect clients’ sending reputations. After clients confirm their list quality, they can submit requests through Blackbaud Support to increase their limits.
Message Content
To minimize the likelihood that your messages will be flagged as SPAM after an ISP accepts them from Blackbaud’s sending system, you can use the following best practices when you create content:
  • Use professionally styled templates that incorporate the following guidelines:
    • Balance the ratio of HTML tags to content. When the amount of html in an email outweighs the actual message content, an ISP is more likely to view the message as suspicious. Therefore, use the least amount of HTML tags as possible.

For example, balance:
  • <td>

     tags with
    <h1>

     and
    <p>

     and style them inline to decrease the amount of code it takes to build a template.
 
  • Balance the ratio of images to text content. Since most ISPs are CSS compatible, use inline padding instead of images. Also, use background colors for header text instead of set images for headers and avoid spacer images.
  • Minimize certain HTML tags/styles and text that might trigger SPAM filters. For example, use toned down colors such maroon instead of red or moderate blue instead of bright blue to avoid appearing as an advertisement.
  • Use clear subject lines that identify your organization's mission and avoid words such as "free," "limited time," and "money."
  • Do not excessively use exclamation points or capital letters.
  • Avoid text that might sound like SPAM advertising, such as “Click here” and “Buy now.”
  • Do not copy and paste content from Microsoft Word. Word is an HTML creation program and frequently creates open tags that increase the likelihood of your message being identified as SPAM.
  • Frequently use SPAM checking services (for example, Return Path or Pivotal Viracity) to review the likelihood of your content being flagged based on current, constantly changing industry standards. Setup email accounts at Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Outlook and send tests to each of them.
List Management
To maintain your email reputation, use the following guidelines to build and sustain your subscriber base:
  • After you obtain an email address, confirm the recipient wants to continue to receive messages from your organization. Recipients who subscribe to email messages are less likely to report them as SPAM to their ISPs.
  • Create a communication plan that engages your subscribers then keep the content relevant to their expectations. Continually tailor your messages to recipient interests and offer content that encourages them to continue their subscriptions. After you establish an email relationship with subscribers, include messaging that requests they take actions such as registering for an event or making a donation.
  • Maintain the expected message frequency. Inform your subscribers how often they will receive messages and then adhere to the schedule. For example, if you send an email every Monday, avoid sending additional messages on Fridays.