Email Delivery Best Practices

August 4th, 2021 by David Simms

Categorized as: Election Tips

Email Delivery Best Practices

Voters won’t vote in an election they don’t know about. Therefore, on an election’s start date, you should announce the election to your voters. Doing this for voters without an email address is a topic for another day, but the intent of this article is to give an executive summary of email delivery within the Skypunch system and present some best practices you can take for communicating with voters via email.

We should begin by making clear that Skypunch only sends email announcements to voters in election with fewer than 5000 voters. Visit Email Announcements are Changing for more about why that is. Having said that, when you conduct an election with Skypunch, you can be assured that everything which can be done from a technical perspective, is being done to give email to voters the best possible chance of delivery. In fact email is delivered using the exact same system used by Amazon to deliver email to its customers. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of a Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys Identified Email (DKIM), and working with ESPs (Email Service Providers) to maintain a favorable sender reputation. Furthermore, the emails to voters are structured to have a low image to text ratio and also an unsubscribe link—both of which improve an email’s probability of reaching the inbox. As you’re setting up an election, you’re also prompted to provide a value to appear in the FROM field of a recipient’s inbox for any email sent by Skypunch. This does nothing to improve deliverability, but is a value-added feature of the system to help the voter recognize the email came from you and pay attention to it rather than clicking delete.

Despite all the effort that goes into delivering email, there will inevitably be some that don’t reach the inbox. Furthermore, these few emails may not appear in the failed email report you’re able to access from within your client account at the Skypunch web site. Why is that? You might think an email is either delivered or failed and that any email which is not delivered would have to show up in the failed email report. Well, not quite. There’s a difference between an email being accepted by the recipient’s email system, and actually making it all the way through to the inbox. When an email is accepted by the receiving system, it is regarded as delivered and will not appear in your failed email report. This is because the tracking mechanisms in place are technically unable to track what happens to an email once it’s been accepted by a receiving system. That system may accept the email, then quarantine it rather than allow it to pass through to the inbox of the recipient. The reasons for it being quarantined would be known only to that system’s administrator. In this case, it has not failed delivery in the technical sense, but it also hasn’t been “delivered” in the business requirement sense of it reaching the voter’s inbox.

What can be done? As stated already, from a technical perspective, all that can be done, is being done. But there are some non-technical things you can do to improve delivery, such as: 

  1. Contact your voters prior to the election and inform them to define Skypunch Technology as an approved sender with their own email provider—sometimes referred to as “whitelisting.” If they login to their own email provider’s web site and submit as a whitelisted domain, any email sent from Skypunch, like the election announcements and reminders will make it to their inbox. Sometimes voters may not have the ability to manage their own whitelisting. This would be the case when a voter is in an organization where email is administered by an IT department. In these cases, voters should be instructed to instruct their own organization’s IT departments to whitelist the domain.

  2. You may wish to send your own email on the start of the election. Your voters may have already whitelisted email originating from your domain so they would be likely to receive it.

  3. You may wish to send the initial announcement at the start of the election yourself, then configure the Skypunch system to send a follow-up reminder to those who’ve not voted a few days before the close of the election.