Welcome to Salsa Engage! Since Engage is a new part of your communications platform, it needs a careful introduction to the internet. Existing internet infrastructure is wary of systems that appear one day and start sending out bulk emails. Nefarious spam "artists" work that way.
Moving to a new email service is a bit like moving houses. You’re going to have a whole new address. We’ve come up with some key items which will help you get the most out of the move, and ensure all your supporters hear from you as you'd expect.
Update Your SPF Record
You'll want to tell the internet you've moved. In this case, we mean updating the IP address ranges and server name used when someone sends your email on your behalf. The SPF record basically tells the internet that SalsaLabs is authorized to send your emails. To ensure that the move doesn’t shock the domains that receive your email (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), your IT team needs to update the SPF record for your domain.
Warm Up Your Email Server
When you start using a new internet address to send your emails, internet service providers may be wary if you start sending new bulk emails. You just can’t start running; you need to warm up first. As Engage is a different mailing platform, you have to “warm up” before jumping in.
To start this process, you should first segment your current subscriber/supporter population based on open/click-through rates. When you get into your Engage account, break these groups into smaller, 5-10,000 supporter chunks (if they aren’t that size already) and send email blasts for a few weeks, just to these records. This starts to establish a good reputation with us and with the ISPs that previously saw you sending from a different IP range and sending domain.
Once you send for a couple of weeks, you can then start increasing your total send count for the rest of your supporter base. You should scale this up gradually. Don’t go from 5,000 to 50,000 the next day. Go from 5,000 to 10-20,000, then 20 to 25 to 50, and so forth. After a few weeks, you can feel confident to send to all your subscribers that have been transferred over.
Scrub Your Lists First
Database decay happens to everyone. A little over one-fifth of your list will become stale throughout the calendar year. For this reason, it is crucial that you constantly scrub your entire list and work to grow your subscriber/supporter list.
Before you transfer all of your subscribers over for the first time, you should make hard choices about your stale subscribers. If you have any records in your old system that had previously hard-bounced, you should leave them behind. Consider moving the "graymail" supporters (those who haven't opened email in the last 6 months or more) into their own group to be targeted differently. These folks may have lost interest or they don't check their inbox often enough. If these unengaged supporters remain, they will lower open rates for any e-blast and will give a false idea of the success of said e-blast. You may also choose to omit them from your initial Engage upload altogether, especially if they've been unresponsive for longer than a year.
Segment Your Lists
You should always consider your message and its intended audience. Every email doesn't have to go to every one of your six-figure supporters. When it comes to being successful in the long run, the key is to specifically target the intended supporters in your account to ensure that you get the most opens, and donations possible. Be consistent. ISPs evaluate opens/clicks and replies back to emails you are sending. From this, they know you are sending content that your supporters like.
Keep Your Data Clean
The most important thing to do is keep track of your supporters who are or are not opening your emails and clicking on links. Your supporters will stop opening your emails and—though that can be concerning—it is just the reality of email. Identify who isn’t opening emails for a period of time (this is done through our Supporter Query tool) and run a re-engagement campaign. Send them an email and if they open or click on a link stating they still wish to receive emails, keep them as subscribed. For the ones that don’t, unsubscribe them.
Consider a Custom DKIM Signature
If you are worried about phishing or spoofing attacks on your domain, we can set up a custom DKIM signature for your domain. If this is something you wish to do, contact our Software Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then set up a meeting with our deliverability team to get that set up. We will need to connect with the entity that manages your domain’s DNS record.