Email is the main method of communication with your supporters in Salsa Engage. In this article you will learn how to create and send an email, as well as how to see the results of your email blast. (For information on building an email series, please see the building an email series article.
Email Training and Overview
Check out the Salsa Scholars Email training course. Watch our Quick Clips video (below) to get a quick overview.
Email Creation Workflow Overview
When you want to send an email blast to your supporters, there are a few aspects to consider:
- What your email will look like.
- Who will receive your email.
- What your email will say.
- When they will receive your email.
Outgoing Email Default Settings
Before you send your first email, you or your system admin will need to manage default outgoing email settings:
- Click the Settings icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Click the Switch To... button, and then select Email and Form Defaults.
- Set up your outgoing email defaults. We will populate the following as the default for each campaign. While you can make changes to these later, add something that we can validate now so you don't get mistaken for a spammer.
- From Name—Let your supporters know who their email is coming from.
- From Email Address—A professional domain specific to your organization is best. Be aware that some email providers, like AOL and Yahoo, do not allow their addresses to be used here.
- Reply-To Email Address—Even when you don't ask for responses, some folks may want to write you back. Pick a reply-to email address that is checked regularly and is not someone's personal address. "info@" is a typical reply-to address option. It doesn't have to match the from address, but it can.
Step 1: Choose Your Email Layout
Choose a starting point to create a new email. You can copy an existing form, select from a library of shared content to use as a template, or start fresh from a layout. See the article on New Emails for details on selecting a layout, then come back to this article to complete the process.
- Click the Email menu on the left.
- Click the Emails tab.
- Click the + Create an Email button.
- The Make Your Selection tab is selected by default. See the article on New Activity or Email Selection for more information. Select a Template or Layout. After you make a selection, the Basics tab opens.
Step 2: The Basics
Here, you will enter a few details that you can use to find and reference your email in the future. This is all internal, so it should be easily recognizable to your team. Your supporters won't see this part.
Fill out the following Basics tab fields:
- Name this [activity] form—The name of this new form was filled out on the previous Make Your Selection tab. Feel free to use any name that will help you and the other campaign managers on the account to internally differentiate this form from all of the others in a list of forms. This field is required.
- Add a description—This information isn’t required but can be helpful in the future for figuring out which forms do what. This is also only used internally.
- What Type of Email Is This?—Assign a message topic to help you analyze how different categories of emails perform. If the topic of this email isn't in the list, just add a new message topic under Settings. If someone has indicated they aren't interested in this topic, they'll automatically be excluded from receiving this email.
Click the Next: Choose Audience» button at the bottom-right of the window. The Choose Audience window will open.
Step 3: Choose Your Audience
Your audience defines who receives or doesn't receive your email blast.
NOTE: Email blasts generated for event coaching messages or emails defined by Salsa CRM queries have their own predetermined audience and do not need another setup.
1. Choose from one of the options:
- Click the Entire List button to send to your full list.
- Click the Selected segments of your list, or specific supporters button to send the email to only certain people. If you choose this option, you'll be given two additional options:
- Choose group(s) to receive this email—The first option will be to choose a segment of your list. These will need to be set up ahead of time in the Audience module.
- Choose additional supporters to receive this email—You can also add specific supporters if they are not part of the segment you chose. Start typing in the search box and all supporters who match your search conditions will be shown. Hit the + symbol next to the supporters you want to add. You can add as many as you want.
- Click the Use a Custom Supporter Query button to send the email to supporters as defined in an ad hoc Supporter Query you can create 'on-the-fly'. For example, select everyone within a 50-mile radius of a particular zip code. The query to define the audience runs when the email is sent. Spot-checking results of the query are not possible on-the-fly; if that is a requirement of developing the audience, defining a dynamic Group is necessary instead.
2. Define Who should NOT receive this email?—The last step in this section is to choose who shouldn’t receive this email. Depending on what type of email this is, you have the option to exclude subscribers who are not interested in those email types or to ignore preferences and send to subscribers who aren't necessarily interested in those types of emails.
By default, we will automatically not send to supporters who have opted out of the Message Topic this blast was assigned to. You have the ability to override preferences and send to them anyway. However, this is not recommended because they specifically took the time to tell you they don’t want to receive this type of email. This could lead to a full unsubscribe or the message being marked as spam by the supporter. Either of these options would lead to poor email deliverability for your organization.
3. Similar to the above selection, you can choose whole segments who won’t get the message or just individual supporters. Use Do not send to these groups and Do not send to these supporters to limit who gets the email.
NOTE: If you inadvertently add someone to the audience and also exclude them, they won't receive the email.
4. Total Audience Reach represents a count of eligible recipients based on the targeted list from Step 1 but subtracting a count of the list of Supporters excluded in Step 2. Subscribers are only counted once - so if you add a supporter that's already part of a selected group - or who hasn't subscribed - your reach won't increase.
5. Click the Next: Compose Your Email» button in the lower right-hand corner.
Step 4: Compose Your Email
The Compose page is where you'll do the bulk of your work. This is where you enter your sender details, add content, select & edit images, add links, and adjust other custom elements. There are a couple of sections to complete here.
A/B Split Testing
Generate up to five versions of your email that get emailed to a percentage of your targeted audience, so you have hard evidence that supporters respond to one message or visual design over another.
Click the tab with the + sign towards the top left of the Create the Email page to create those multiple versions of your message.
The basic steps for creating test emails are as follows:
- Select the + sign to generate up to five different copies of your email content.
- Add a description of the split in order to tell the splits apart.
- Make small alterations to your various copies.
- Select the percentages of who gets which test.
NOTE: Send the test to no more 25-30% of your total list. If you send your test to all of your intended supporters, you'll really only learn what works for some future email blast, and you won't be able to learn anything for the current blast.
- Determine who is the winner:
- Autopilot: Send the winning version automatically. Use either open rate or click rate and send after the number of hours you pick.
- Manual: You choose a winner based on the results.
- Send the tests.
- Either determine the winner manually or automatically.
- Send your blast.
To make an effective test, follow these guidelines:
- Isolate one variable per test—Subject, salutation, From name... keep the change confined to a simple, easily identifiable factor.
- Consider statistical significance—Sending your split test to less than 100% of your list means a bigger audience will get the optimized email. The trick here is to get enough responses to each version so that you can gather useful enough information to determine which email 'won'. If your entire list is very small (dozens of supporters), your sample size may be statistically insignificant. If you have a fairly large list of people (thousands or tens of thousands) you can begin to get good data out of smaller subsets of your list. Send the test to no more 25-30% of your total list.
- Re-test the things you know work—It's an ever-changing world out there, and what works for this year's event can fall flat the next. If you're invested in testing for the purposes of optimizing your emailing effectiveness, then revisit old tests you've run!
Your emails are sent by our servers on behalf of your email system. Entering in your From Name, From Email Address, and Reply-To Email Address will help recipients know who is sending the email and whom they should reply to with questions. Adding an SPF record will allow your email servers to approve of our servers sending emails on behalf of your system.
Caution: Many email clients automatically block emails from certain domains or send them directly to spam. To ensure deliverability, these domains should not be used in the senders ('From') address:
Step 5: Email Content
This is where you'll complete the lion's share of the email creation process. Along with setting-up several parameters, you'll create the email content itself.
Enter your email subject line in this section. Use supporter data like their first name in your subject line.
Here are some best practices relating to good subject lines:
- Personalization is a hot topic email marketing trend. Personalize your subject line using the button at the end of the Subject Line that looks like a silhouette and is called the Add Merge Field button.
- Be clear and concise about what your email contains. Don't mislead.
- A/B test different email subject lines. Prove what works best for your audience.
- Avoid spam trigger words. 69% of emails that are flagged as spam are flagged as such because of the email subject line. Lots of research has been done to identify the words that throw up red flags on spam detectors. Using certain words in your email subject lines can result in your email being automatically blocked or sent directly to your recipients’ spam folders. Here is the list of the most common spam trigger words that are flagged by spam detectors. Browse it at your leisure and educate yourself on which words to stay away from in your email subject lines.
- Use numbers. Email subject lines that contain numbers have been proven to generate higher open rates than those that do not.
- Emojis. There is conflicting evidence. What seems innocent to you may be offensive in another culture or mean something entirely different in our own youth subculture. If your audience is in any way multicultural or international, you should refrain from using emojis. They could hurt you more than they help you.
Email Preview Text
Currently, more emails are opened on mobile devices than on desktops. When supporters see your email in their inbox, they see your email address, the subject line, and a bit of your content called preview text or preheader text. Most mobile email programs show a preview of between 30 and 55 characters. The shift to mobile has made the use of email preview text important for anyone using email to grow supporters and revenue.
Engage picks up the first line of your email text for use as a preview, ignoring any graphics that you may have placed above the text. Alternately, you can override the default preview text with your own, custom preview text that controls what the supporter sees in their inbox preview. Feel free to include personalization by clicking the button to the right that looks like a silhouette and is called the Add Merge Field button. Your preview text should be between 40-130 characters long. This range ensures that your preview text will be visible in both desktop and mobile email clients.
The Email Status indicates whether the email is still in draft mode or whether it has already been sent.
Edit Email Content
The Visual Editor is the primary tool used to build the body of your email blast. Scrolling down the page, you’ll reach a visual editor. Constructing the body of your message is very similar to how you create forms in Activities, as the Visual Editor contains many similar tools across Salsa Engage. See The Visual Editor for Activities and Messaging for detailed directions. Since most of the options revealed by clicking this icon are covered in the Visual Editor article, we'll only cover the tools and elements specific to email:
The Text Box—When you click the Pencil icon in the Form field, you'll see the 'Edit Text' window. Although you'll find the Text Box used extensively elsewhere, one key option that is available to your email composition that isn't seen anywhere else is the 'Insert a Personalized Field' button. This is the same button available to you at the end of your Subject Line field above. This button brings up a window that allows you to personalize your message with a merge field (or fields) of your choosing. For example, if you wanted to send someone a birthday message and really make it stand out in ALL CAPS, scroll down to find Date of Birth, or use the Search field to quickly locate it among the other choices. Select your ALL CAPS radio button, and then decide if you want any messaging to be placed in lieu of missing data on the supporter's record. Once you're done, click the Save Content button.
OrgInfo—If you want to add one or two places where you can insert your organization's contact data. You'll notice these are all merge fields. Remove any you don't want, or click and drag to reorder them to your liking.
There's no need to overwrite your contact information; merge fields will pull your info automatically from your default settings as the blast is being sent.
If you find you need to update your organization's contact information, you can do so by going to your Settings, which is the icon in the upper right-hand corner.
The first tab you'll see upon arriving on the Settings page is the Set Org Details tab. Here's where you can edit your address, phone, and email. You can click the Save It! button in the lower right-hand corner when you've made your edits.
Web Friendly Email Fonts
This article describes appropriate email fonts to be used in the Visual Editor for Emails.
Web Email Settings
This toggle enables you to automatically publish a web version of the email, hosted by Salsa Labs, that supporters can see by clicking a link in the email. This is useful if you have images or other elements in your email that may be blocked by email clients, or if recipients want to share the email on social media.
If your email contains merge fields and the supporter clicks the Web Version link to view the email as a web page, the web page will be personalized for your supporter. For example, if you were to include a 'First Name' merge field, the web version of the email would be populated with the first name value on record for the supporter (for example, 'Chris'). However, when the supporter uses the Share element to push the email to social media, the shared version will not include personalized data for that supporter. Instead, the shared version will use the default values that you set when you inserted the merge field into the email.
The Web Version toggle is ON by default. (If you don't want to create an online version of your email, click the toggle to OFF.) When the toggle is set to ON, the Edit Settings control is enabled.
- Click the Edit Settings button. The settings dialog box appears.
- On the Web Version Settings tab, enter a Page Title. The Page Title appears in the browser to remind users what page on your site they are viewing, and also helps search engines find you a little easier. This is public-facing so make it concise and descriptive.
- Enter a URL. This URL was created using the Form Name you picked when you started building the form. Feel free to change it!, especially if you've made copy after copy of the email. Make it user-friendly—short and descriptive—and similar to the Page Title.
- Click the Web Version Status tab.
- Select an option:
- Leave the Stay Published radio button selected if you want the on-line version of the email to remain available indefinitely.
- Click the radio button for Redirect at date and time to following page to redirect the supporter to a different URL after a given time and date. When you select this option, you are given controls to choose a date and time and to add a link to a Salsa Engage page or external URL.
- Click the Social Share Attributes tab.
- Add a Title for the social post that your supporters will share.
- Add a Description, or the message you want your supporters to share.
- Add an Image that viewers will see when your content is shared on social. Images must be no smaller than 200px by 200px and no larger than 5MB. For best display, select an image 600px by 315px or bigger.
- Click Save Configuration» when you are finished.
Include the Web View Link element In your email content.
Spam Checker: What's Your Score?
Supporters can't take action if they don't receive your email. If email service providers think your email resembles spam messages they've seen before, they simply won't deliver them.
Click the Request Your Score button to evaluate your email's links, images, and content. Certain phrases, keywords, link types, and other components of your message may trigger spam traps on the receiving end, so we try and provide you with a little data to help clean that up if needed.
Salsa uses SpamAssassin for its spam scoring. We've tried to make the spam messages more friendly to actual humans, as the actual codes that SpamAssassin produces are decidedly cryptic. If you do have email content that's considered spam-ish, Salsa will try to give you some guidance on what needs to be changed. For example, if you receive a message that your email, "Contains a blocked link," one of the links in your email is problematic. We can't tell why or which one, because SpamAssassin won't tell us which one. You can, however, leverage the following tools to inspect your individual links to see which URL is getting blocked:
Note: A cumulative Spam Check score of 5.0 or higher means you'll likely hit spam traps. A lower score doesn't mean you won't hit certain email clients' spam triggers, but the odds are less that they'll be routed into junk folders. No score means you're sitting at a relatively comfortable 0.0.
Once you're done making your choices, you can save, go back, or move forward in the process and Get Ready to Send Your Email by clicking Next: Final Steps».
Step 6: Get Ready to Send Your Email
Before you send your email to your audience, let's preview your email with a test send, set any split test parameters (if you're doing a test), and schedule your email to go to supporters either now or sometime soon.
Send a Test Message
When you are editing your email blast in the visual editor, this is not how the finished product should look. A close approximation of the final product can be seen in the Preview. An even better approximation is the Test email that you can send to yourself (preferably outside of your foundation's domain... to a personal email, for example).
We strongly recommend sending test messages of each email blast to multiple email domains, as email providers have varying standards for spam-checking HTML. For example, consider sending the test message to personal addresses at Yahoo or Google as well as your organization's email.
NOTE: If your organization is blocking the test email or otherwise noting it may be spam, that is because we are sending emails that are on behalf of your organization, yet your email server is suspicious because it did not send the email. It is likely that our email servers need to be whitelisted to perform such an action. Please review our documentation on making sure emails get to supporters.
Send yourself a test message:
- Type an email into the box.
- Click the Add button to add that email as a test recipient.
If you check the Save these addresses for future tests checkbox while adding these emails, they will be saved so all future email blasts created will automatically have those test emails added.
After you have all the emails added, click the Send the Test! button to send a test message to each of the emails you entered.
Send Split Tests
If you've elected to generate A/B versions of your email for a test, you'll see an additional field with options to help you select which percentages to use and how the 'winner' is chosen.
Salsa recommends sending the test to no more than 25-30% of your total target list. Sending the test to 100% of your list means you'll only be able to use the lessons learned from the winning version in future emails -- NOT immediately. Sometimes that's the right move, but most of the time you'll want to send the test to just a portion of your list. Then, send the top performer to the rest of your supporters for the best possible results sooner than later.
You can also tell Salsa Engage to automatically determine the winner based on Open Rate or Click Rate after a period of time you set. Alternately, you can manually pick a winner.
Send Your Email
Review the number of supporters to whom the message is being sent. You will see the total number of targeted supporters in the split test (if selected) and total supporters (including the count of split test supporters). You will also see the total number of targeted supporters who will be excluded from receiving the email for the following reasons:
- Bad emails
- Manually excluded
- Unsubscribed globally
- Unsubscribed from message topic
- Enrolled in message series
If you want to send your email right away, leave Send Now selected and click the Send Now button.
You must confirm that you want to send the email immediately. If you have configured a split test, the message will confirm that the split test will be sent first. Then, either the Autopilot will send out the rest, or you will be notified of the split test results so you can send the remainder manually.
If you want to schedule the email to send at a future date and time, click the Schedule for later radio button. Two new boxes will appear:
- Click in the first one to set a date.
- Click the next drop-down box to choose a time. The timezone is based off the local timezone of the campaign manager saving the time.
- Click the Send Later button and your email will go out at the date and time you set.
You must confirm that you want to send your email at a later date and time. If you have configured a split test, the message will confirm that the split test will be sent first. Then, either the Autopilot will send out the rest, or you will be notified of the split test results so you can send the rest manually.
The message delivery may be canceled any time before it is scheduled to go out. If you need to stop a scheduled blast, click the Cancel the blast option that will be present on the Status tab. Canceling the blast removes it from the send queue so you can make modifications and reschedule your email to send at whatever date and time you would like.
See the Results
After you have sent an email blast and given your supporters some time to open and read it, you can get some details on how the email performed. Find information about blast results charts and graphs here.
Email opens are tracked by a small image automatically added to your email and downloaded from our system when your supporters open your email. Hence, the percentages below only include supporters using an email client that is capable of displaying HTML with images, and the option to display images is turned on. Gmail users are an exception, however, because Gmail doesn't send device or browser information when they open your emails. To account for this, we estimate Gmail opens by device and operating system based on the ratio of your other open data.
The table on this tab lets you see to whom emails were sent and the emails' 'opened' status. To see Supporter basics, click the Email or Name of the email that you are interested in. Click Download Details as CSV to download your results, to your hard drive, as a CSV file.