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Email List Upload Policy



This document outlines BSD's policies with regards to email list uploads.  These policies apply to both lists uploaded by new clients and those being added by existing clients.


BSD uses a shared mail delivery infrastructure.  A given server might send mail for 30+ clients on any particular day.  Because ISPs use information about the sending server to make decisions about whether a given message should be treated as spam, a bad list uploaded by one client can affect deliverability rates for other clients.  As such, we have this policy in place to ensure that this shared resource remains available and useful for all our clients.


If you have a question that isn't addressed in this document, just ask us.



The Golden Rule: No Surprises


One of the biggest factors affecting email deliverability is the rate of spam complaints an ISP receives.  Most mail systems have a "Report as Spam" feature.  When a user clicks the button, it helps train the ISP's filters to reject similar messages (usually based on content or the sending server). So why do users click the button?  Usually it's because they got mail that they don't want or don't remember signing up for.


The goal, therefore, is to avoid surprising people with messages that they are likely to report as spam.  This means that all email addresses must be "opt-in," where people willingly provide the email address for the purpose of receiving mail.



General Best Practices


1. Always include an unsubscribe link.  If someone decides they don't want to receive your email any more, and they can't find a way to unsubscribe, they are more likely to hit "Report as Spam".


2. Use a recognized sender name.  Make sure the name of your organization (as known to the recipient) is prominently displayed in the From line of the message and in the top of the message body.  If you are sending for an affiliated/subsidiary organization with which the recipient may not be familiar, make sure you communicate this clearly to the user.  For example: "Climate Protection Now (a project of the Environmental Fund)"


Purchased Lists and Voter File Email Appends


BSD does not allow our clients to used commercially purchased lists or voter file lists with email addresses appended.  If you choose to use these lists (and we recommend that you do not), you will need to find another vendor from which to send emails.  You may link back to your BSD-hosted site, but you may not send emails to those addresses from BSD.  Of course, if a person on a purchased list clicks through to your BSD-hosted site and takes an action requiring them to supply their email address, those address will be added to your BSD email list and can be sent to from BSD.



List Swaps and Transfers


BSD does allow you to do list swaps.  For example, a candidate might pass her list on to the state Democratic party at the conclusion of a campaign, or two like-minded environmental organizations might decide to exchange lists.  To avoid spam complaints, you must follow certain procedures when doing a list swap or transfer.


1. Let your BSD Client Services Manager know about the list swap or transfer.  Please send us a quick email with brief details about the upload you are about to do, including the source of the addresses and the approximate number of addresses being loaded.



2. When uploading the newly acquired list, make sure to put it into its own constituent group.  This will allow you to customize your message content for the uploaded addresses, and to remove them later if they cause serious deliverability issues.



3. For the first three sends to the newly acquired list, you must include a special unsubscribe link at the top.  This should be prominent at the top of each message and should explain a) why the user is getting the message and b) give them an unsubscribe link.  For example:

You are receiving this message from the Alaska Democratic Party because you signed up to receive email from local Democratic candidates.  If you do not wish to receive email from the ADP, click here to unsubscribe.


Emails Gathered Offline


Uploading email addresses you gathered at a rally or other offline event is not a problem and no special sending process is required.  We do, however, ask that you let us know if you are going to be uploading more than 1,000 address.  Please send an email to your Client Services Manager with the source of the addresses and the approximate number of addresses being loaded.



Press Lists


You may upload your press/media contact list, however, it is recommended that you follow the notification process described above for List Swaps and Transfers.  Clearly informing people that they are receiving emails because they are on your press list will help reduce spam complaints.


Elected Officials


We do not allow you to wholesale upload email addresses for elected officials.  You can, however, use the Speak Out tool to allow your members to contact their own elected officials directly.



Bounce Unsubscribes


You may notice a higher volume of bounce unsubscribes (people automatically unsubscribed from your list due to message bounces) after doing an upload.  This usually means that the uploaded address were of lower quality than the rest of your list.  Common reasons for this include typos when transcribing email addresses from handwritten sign-in sheets and paper documents, as well as lists transferred over from other systems that did not automatically unsubscribe people with bad addresses.  This increase in bounce unsubscribes is usually nothing to worry about and should subside after you've sent 3 or 4 messages to the newly uploaded addresses.



What About ...?


Not sure about a list upload?  Just ask us.  Our goal is to help our clients do what they need to do, while protecting our shared email delivery infrastructure for everyone.  We're not dogmatic and will be happy to discuss any special situations with you.

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