Tips & Tricks: Email Monitoring – Seed Lists


Do you ever wonder what happens to the email you send your supporters? It went to their inbox, right? Or maybe a Promotions folder or something. Without a crystal ball, this is hard to determine. We have a couple of tips and tricks to help you determine what happened to those perfectly crafted emails you and your team sent out.

Seed lists

Most organizations have a standard practice of seeding the list. This is putting known emails into the list and making sure they get every single email you send out so you can see how it’s delivered. At a minimum, you should have a seed list that contains the following Email Service Providers (ESPs): Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail/Outlook.

Because every nonprofit is different, you may want to add additional ESPs. Take a look at your subscriber list and see what your 5th and 6th most prevalent domains are and maybe add those as well to your list.

To get started, you need to create a new email address for each of those ESPs. Once you’ve done that, add each email to your mailing list. You can do this manually through the “Add New Supporter” button or organically through a sign up page. Then, create a new untagged/custom field in your Account Data Structure called Internal Seed List. For each of these new supporters, add a Y value to their supporter record for this new field.

Now, whenever you send out an email campaign in the future, be sure to include this group in your query by adding them to the universal (or blue) section of your query. Then, you can check the placement of your email campaigns by logging into those email inboxes and seeing how you are doing. While this is only a small sample size it can easily be expanded.

Hot Email Tip: 

When you go in to check on those emails, OPEN them and CLICK on your links. This will prevent your well-intentioned seed email account from being flagged as a spam trap – which can affect your email deliverability.

Ben’s Advanced Tip: 

In an ideal world, I would create a total of 12 emails (3 for each ESP). I would sort them into an A, B, and C group. For emails in Group A, I would open each email and click on a link. Emails in Group B, I would open. And emails Group C, I would never open. After doing this for awhile, you’ll develop an insight into how ESPs handle your emails and how they are scored in our Engagement Scoring. To check that, you would look at the user profiles for each in your Email Visual Report and compare Engagement Scores across ESPs and Profiles. Sometimes, alongside user behavior (opens and clicks), nuances in how your templates are coded or how you use images can impact how an ESP will treat your email delivery.

There are also services that can do all of this for you, but you can certainly run this with your own team. We’ll touch on some of the services available to you in a later Tips & Tricks. Stay tuned for future installments!

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