Esther Wieman_2013 picToday’s post was inspired by All-Access Pass Holder Esther Wieman,  Associate for Business Development for the Cultural Data Project (CDP).

Since CDP has over 30 staff members, but no dedicated communications capacity, Esther wanted to make sure anyone sending an email to a big list not only proofread the email for spelling and grammar problems, but also checked the more technical aspects of the email before hitting “send.”

She originally asked about communication policies for mass emails in the Pass Holders-Only Facebook Group we run, but we thought every nonprofit could benefit from these tips, so we also asked for more input on the Nonprofit Marketing Guide Facebook Page.

Here is what Esther and other members of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide community do before sending an email:

  • Look at the editorial calendar and make sure your email doesn’t conflict with someone else’s (Esther says they have had times when their constituents would receive multiple emails in a week or even a day because their efforts were not coordinated.)
  • Check the dates
  • Check the subject
  • Check email address for reply-to (so responses will be checked and other inboxes aren’t flooded with out-of-office replies)
  • Check all hyperlinks
  • Check ‘alternate text’ for all images
  • If using HTML, change all < p > to < /br > or paragraphs won’t break correctly in Yahoo
  • Preview emails in all browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc) and email clients (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc)
  • Preview email on various mobile devices (phones and tablets)
  • Check personalized fields such as ~Contact.FirstName~ are pulling the correct information
  • Ensure email list is segmented properly
  • Ensure the “text-only” version of the email makes sense and any hyperlinks from the HTML version are typed out fully

Esther’s checklist also includes some best practices for her staff:

  • The subject line is brief and descriptive.
  • The From line identifies the sender.
  • The text should:
    • Use a minimum of HTML coding and images
    • Indicate to whom the message is being sent
    • Indicate why the message in being sent
    • Be brief and drive recipients to other locations for further information
    • Include contact information: an email address and phone

What do you do before you send a bulk email that didn’t make this list? Help complete the list by commenting below.