Maximize ROI by Minimizing Spam Rates

Picture this—your nonprofit has its next email fundraising appeal down. You’ve perfected the copy, mulled over the ask and even added photos and graphics to really make sure that you crush it to get a stellar response. The work is done and you’ve finally clicked send. Your email is on its way to hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of constituents.


At least, that’s how many were supposed to get your email. Did you know that 1 in 8 of these messages will never reach an inbox for various reasons? The scariest part about this is that the number of emails that are never delivered in an inbox is almost as high as the number of emails that make it to an inbox, but are never opened.

A large number of these emails are lost to spam. EveryAction conducted a study with 55 established nonprofits that have over 100,000 people in their email lists and found that by minimizing your messages sent to spam, you could raise your revenue by almost $15,000 each year.

Similar to SEO being the algorithm that determines what results come up first when you use a search engine, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) monitor emails based on the reputation of the sender to decide which emails are to be delivered.

If an IP address gets flagged with a bad reputation, it could take from a few months to an entire year to regain credibility. ISPs take note of how many emails you send and how many of those are opened, deleted or marked as spam. If the rates are high enough they will automatically have your emails sent to spam or deleted. Even worse is that they could block your account from sending emails to certain recipients all together.


EveryAction also found that an average of over 12% of nonprofits’ emails were cursed to the spam folder each month. This lead to a loss in over 14% in email fundraising revenue. To put it in perspective, each percentage point of spam represents an average of $1,203.84 in revenue lost every year. So if your spam rate is 9%, you are losing out on the potential to be making an extra $10,800 from your email marketing each year.

That means we need to find out what is causing people to mark your messages as spam. Not including a single-click unsubscribe link, using an outdated email list and sending irrelevant emails are the top three mistakes made in email marketing according to EveryAction. You have to make the process to unsubscribe easy and send pertinent emails to the correct people who care what you have to say.


Here are four suggestions to improve your deliverability and minimize messages sent to spam based on EveryAction’s study:

Get Engaged

Take opportunities to get your audience engaged with your emails to see who is reading and interacting with your content. It’s important to do this early on to make sure subscribers really want to hear from you. Have subscribers confirm their email after opting in. Another tactic you can use is to implement a welcome series of around three emails letting subscribers know what to expect from you. By seeing if they read all three emails, you’ll also know what to expect from them in return.

Analyze More

Taking a look at overall analytics to study the statistics of opens and clicks is necessary, but don’t put all of your stock into blanket analytics. Instead, look at how individuals respond to things. These metrics can help you see who isn’t getting your messages and why bounce rates are occurring and minimize them. However, the only real metrics to measure email marketing success are clicks, opens and conversions. For this reason, it is extremely helpful to look at individuals to focus on the performance of various segments, content types and email subject lines.

Work with Your Provider

Your email marketing provider should be able to help you with more detailed information about what your sender reputation looks like and give a more indepth analysis of your email deliverability. If your provider doesn’t help you out with monitoring metrics and minimizing blocks and blacklisting, you may want to try something new. From here you’ll also be able to find who is not active to try to get them engaged again. If it doesn’t work out, it’s time to remove them from the list to protect your sender reputation and keep future emails from spam traps.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

As a recipient of your emails, would you want to mark your organization as spam? Think quality over quantity when it comes to email marketing. Sending irrelevant emails or sending emails too frequently are two big reasons people become fed up and start filtering out emails.

Spam emails account for a high number of lost revenue each year. Ultimately, spam rates are in your control. Keep your sender reputation high by keeping track of who is interacting with your emails and who should be removed from the list. The best way to keep readers and ISPs from marking your emails as spam is to generate content that is pertinent to your constituents and keep up with what they want to hear from you. Email marketing is an awesome potential for gaining support. Don’t lose out on this opportunity due to high spam rates.


Want to see the full Deliverability Study? Check out the link below.

What Does Spam Do to Your Email Fundraising? [EveryAction]


Nick Small

With specialties in content strategy and creation, social media engagement and digital marketing optimization, Nick brings a depth of experience in nonprofit marketing. He’s also helped hundreds of nonprofits with their online presence to improve donor retention and attract new audiences, and he still has time for a good glass of whiskey, round of golf or new adventure.

June 4, 2015

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