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Email Deliverability Is Critical for Your Community's Success

Written by Ben Goodkind on June 19, 2015 at 2:46 PM

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Email deliverability is a priority for Higher Logic, and we succeed in ensuring over 50 million emails per month are delivered safely with low bounce rates. This is how we pull it off. 

Email Delivery Success 

Email is a communication channel integral to keeping a community’s flow of information running smoothly. An engaged community requires that members can receive email notifications on a regular basis. You don’t want any community emails marked as spam or flagged by a server as dishonest or compromised. Email deliverability is a calculated process that many organizations can easily overlook regarding their own communities. 

Our clients’ online communities depend on emails being delivered, whether it’s an automated message welcoming a new member, a staff member sending out the latest blog post or daily digests with dozens of members responding to each other in real time. Higher Logic handles the technical details of deliverability and allows an organization to focus on their community’s value. 

Community members can control the content they receive by email through subscription settings. Emails are easily consumed on any device because of their responsive design. We have consistent daily and monthly email volumes, all controlled by subscriber preferences and outfitted with opt-in and one-click unsubscribe settings. We also offer inbound functionality, which supports new threads and replies directly from an email client. 

We pride ourselves on top-notch email functionality—it’s important to us to ensure deliverability and offer application features that improve email design and reporting. 

Deliverability 

Deliverability can be defined as how likely an email message will arrive at its intended destination. Online communities pose a unique requirement when it comes to emails with user-generated content. We help clients send a high volume of emails, primarily made up of user-generated content, which is harder to control and involves additional considerations over standard marketing emails or e-blasts. The members of our clients’ communities are crowd-sourcing the content for most emails. 

Validation and Authentication 

With unpredictable and evolving user-generated content, it is more important than ever to check that an email’s content is authentic and being sent to validated addresses. Our third party mailing service is a global leader in email deliverability and helps us stay on top of all processes. The service provider tracks performance in order to create an overall reputation score, which we constantly work to improve and maintain a high rating. It also helps us sustain network and server security, as well as tracking any issues through email management tools. You must continuously prove your reputation based on bounce rates and complaint scores. There are built-in requirements for continued success, and renowned email providers such as Google and Yahoo trust emails sent through a reliable email service provider. 

Our efforts have paid off—Higher Logic sends over 2 million emails every day. Our complaint and bounce rate averages are incredibly low compared to industry standards. 

Here’s our process to make sure a reliable system of validation and authentication is in place: 

One consistent domain 

We provide one primary domain and our own IP addresses to be whitelisted for our clients, both of which are technical components we control and monitor. This alleviates clients’ worries over any technical issues. The domain and IP addresses are partners for a smooth start to deliverability, and their reputations are solid because of consistence and use of DKIM authentication. 

Validate email addresses 

Higher Logic’s implementation process for new clients includes a validation tool for checking all email addresses they plan to use for community emails. Double-checking if emails are valid, up to date and still in use help us avoid bounces and complaints down the road. We integrate with most AMS/CRM databases to keep all of our clients’ email addresses current. 

Mail signed by DKIM 

We sign all of our outbound emails using DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). When an email arrives to its receiving server, it can be checked and validated through the DKIM signature. Think of this as the server signing a package before it’s handed over to the house (the house being your email inbox). That package won’t be signed for if it appears suspicious (i.e. has not passed IP addresses and domain checks). 

Set up feedback loops 

Feedback loops alert us to bounces, rejected email (such as spam) and complaints. Every feedback loop report is transparent to clients, who have access to dashboards for UI, filtering and exporting capabilities in the community platform. The most important information we track is complaints and permanent/transient bounces. This feedback loop integration puts a hold on email with any permanent blocks or complaints. 

Application Features 

The work doesn’t end when our clients press send. We have complete transparency around our email deliverability, so any organization or individual can monitor, find and resolve issues in real time. Support desk integration makes additional help one click away. 

The email engagement tools our clients have at their disposal produce reports on recent email sends and opens. Data may be sliced and diced as well as exported for use in an external tool. 

Branding configurations allow clients to send branded emails through the use of preferred logos, colors and a flexible “From” address configuration (the display name of the email can be changed to reflect a client’s name preference). 

These application features are customizable, and they mirror the attention to detail we put into deliverability from the onset. A community platform is only as strong as its communication channels. User-generated content should be a benefit and not a hindrance to your community’s value and your organization’s brand.

Topics: Community Platforms & Updates, Communications

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