We all know that getting messages to your audience is important. But no matter how much time and effort you spend crafting messages to get people to act, your communications are only effective if they actually reach the recipient’s inbox.
Whether a message gets to the inbox or not has more to do with the screening approaches of Internet Service Providers like Gmail and Yahoo! than it does with laws and regulations, but both are important.
Email sending laws and regulations
With strict laws that regulate commercial marketing messages, like the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and the Canadian Anti-SPAM Legislation, the question is, should public sector organizations comply with anti-SPAM requirements?
Granicus isn’t able to provide legal advice, and we always recommend checking with your legal counsel on specific issues of legislation or compliance. But as the largest sender of digital messages on behalf of the public sector, we have an interpretation of where the public sector stands when it comes to CAN-SPAM and deliverability.
Government organizations generally don’t send commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” As long as government organizations aren’t sending commercial messages, the anti-SPAM regulations don’t apply. However, if your organization cares about reaching the inbox, compliance with the regulations is strongly recommended.
In short, public sector organizations shouldn’t have to worry about breaking the law, but they should follow it anyway.
Compliance and deliverability go hand in hand.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) take preventive measures to protect their customers by identifying SPAM before it hits the inbox, and anyone who sends mass messages could get caught up in a SPAM filter if they don’t follow the anti-SPAM guidelines.
At Granicus, successful delivery of your messages to massive groups of people is our business. Public sector organizations send billions of messages per year using the Granicus Communications Cloud; therefore we follow anti-SPAM best practices to maintain the same level of high standards with ISPs as commercial email marketers.
What does Granicus do to help our customers avoid SPAM filters?
The Granicus Communications Cloud has bulk sending best practices built into our system. For example, Granicus automatically appends a physical address to all outbound messages, which is a CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requirement. Here are a few other ways we maintain high deliverability rates:
- Sending verification. Granicus uses various methods of sending verification, such as DomainKey Identified Mail, or DKIM, which is used to ensure that an email message is authentically associated with the domain name it is sent from.
- List-unsubscribe headers. If this option is enabled for your account, each bulletin sent for your account contains a list-unsubscribe header. In some email clients, the list-unsubscribe header generates an unsubscribe link next to your From Address. This is a best practice that helps ISPs identify your content as safe and encourages uninterested subscribers to unsubscribe rather than mark your content as spam. Note that not every email client uses list-unsubscribe headers.
- Opt-in process. By definition, SPAM is any communication that is sent to a recipient who did not ask for it. The Granicus Communications Cloud includes an opt-in process for all clients, which requires the end user to input their email address and/or phone number to actively opt-in to communications from an organization. If an organization has a list that was collected through another channel (such as an event), we recommend that they send an email to that list inviting them to opt-in.
- Automated list management. Bad or outdated email addresses that bounce and hurt message delivery to other subscribers are automatically removed. A real-time unsubscribe process is also built into the Granicus Communications Cloud, so organizations can rest assured that opt-outs are removed in near real-time. This is critical given that most SPAM compliance legislation requires that subscribers are removed within 10-30 days after they opt out.
- Delivery reputation. Because the Granicus Communications Cloud is only used to communicate information on behalf of the public sector, our clients benefit from world-class deliverability. We have a historical rate of 98% delivery to ISPs.
- Subscriber support. Our Subscriber Help Center provides answers to any questions subscribers may have about the digital information sent by our clients, including how to manage their preferences, change their email address, and more.
What can government organizations do to avoid SPAM filters?
While Granicus has many deliverability best practices automatically built in, there are things that government organizations can do to help avoid SPAM filters:
- Avoid purchasing email or phone number lists. If you are attempting to re-market to an old list, sending an email requesting an opt-in is always a best practice.
- Don’t use all capital letters, excessive punctuation, or emoticons in your subject lines. Unless you are sending an emergency communication, these types of subject lines are commonly viewed as SPAM.
- Establish trust with relevant content. The content you send should relate to the opt-in preferences of your subscribers. Outside of emergency situations or major program initiatives, stick to sending information that your subscribers asked for.
- Recognizable from addresses, from names, and descriptive subject lines are also recommended.
- Use a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record to indicate to ISPs that Granicus is authorized to send bulletins for your domain.
As always, Granicus is continually working to ensure that the critical information your organization distributes reaches your constituents and stakeholders.