5 Great Tips for Sphere End of Year Campaigns!

Sphere customers had a very successful Giving Tuesday! Nearly 7 million emails flowed smoothly through the system, watched closely by our Product Management team. To help with the upcoming end-of-year time, we’ve analyzed Giving Tuesday email results and came up with this short list of ways to optimize your Sphere email. Taking these steps can ensure the maximum number of emails reach inboxes!

1.     Optimize key year-end messages for deliverability and usability. These tools give you results based on your email’s subject title, HTML source, content and much more. It’s hard to fix what you can’t see. Test your email, then refine if necessary.

  • Email images may load slower than message content. Resist the urge to use one or several large images to convey your message! You have a few seconds at most to capture email viewers’ attention. A slight delay for large images to load could mean cause them to skip your email. Always, always, always balance images with text content in an email, use “alt text” for your images, and include at least one text call to action rather than relying on images/buttons for all important follow-up like Donate Now.
  • Check that your emails conform to best practices for avoiding spam filters.
  • Get a detailed “spam score” by checking your messages with Mail-Tester.com. This free tool requires a bit of set-up, but it’s worth it! Create a contact record in Sphere using the ‘mail-tester’ email they give you, then send (a copy of) your email through Sphere to that contact record. You’ll get a very detailed analysis and spam score.
  • Other comprehensive, fee-based tools for email format testing include Email on Acid and Email Reach.

2.     Make sure your Blackbaud is authorized to send email on your behalf. It’s worth the effort to do this step because it really helps get your messages into INBOXES and out of Spam folders!

3.     Speed Your Email Delivery

  • Schedule emails at creative times. On GivingTuesday, peak email send times were from 7 to 10 Central, then again at Noon, 2 pm and 6 pm CT. Most emails were scheduled to be sent on the hour and on the half. To avoid possible congestion in the mail queue, consider scheduling your send for a different time – like 11:43 a.m. instead of Noon or 8:22 instead of 8:30 a.m.
  • Use preprocessing for your email sends. Find this feature in the Sphere email “Scheduling” area. Preprocessing helps cut the time the database spends building your email by doing all the deduping, suppression and merge field / dynamic content building in advance. When the scheduled email send time comes around, this “build” step is done; your mailing goes directly into the queue to be sent out. ISP throttling and mail server traffic will still influence the send speed.

end of year sphere campaigns






4.     Make sure your email list is clean. Blackbaud Sphere will automatically suppress already-blacklisted, unsubscribed and spam-reported email addresses from past campaigns. Since bad email addresses can adversely affect your sender reputation, this is not a good time to import large lists of contacts of unknown validity.

5.     Have a Question?

  • Ask the Community! We launched a new Sphere Community in October 2015! The Community gives you easy access to training and help resources as well as forums used by hundreds of members. We’re already building a wealth of knowledge in our new community. Don’t forget to reach out to your peers when you need a little extra advice, suggestions, or ideas! Visit the Sphere community.
  • Ask Support. The Sphere Customer Support team is available Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, excluding holidays. If you’ve got a technical problem, don’t hesitate to reach out! We also offer after-hours phone support for mission-critical issues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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