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The key to any promotional marketing success is the need to grab attention and move the reader to some "call to action".  We have all been trained in how effective marketing campaigns do that.  But educational marketers need to be very cautious because spam identification software and email security software also understand these effective marketing engagement rules.  If you want your email to see the inbox "light-of-day" you will need to be careful how you position, word and create things. 

It is important to remember that the goal of a district or school email administrator is not to eliminate all promotional messages.  Their goal is to protect the school assets and help educators stay efficient and engaged.  Targeted promotional messages, carefully constructed and delivered in a thoughtful and professional manner (described below) will win the day.  Marketers that just want to slam out low quality generic messages that are cast out to the whole educational world will likely get blocked.  


So, what do you need to do to make sure your company messages are actually getting into the inbox? 

Here are a few important “creative” / “content” things you need to be sensitive to:

Creating Proper Promotional Email Messages

Run your message creative through spam identification software / services.  MCH Strategic Data requires this on all our customer email messages.  MCH uses Email on Acid and Litmus, but these are two of many available.  Districts frequently categorize incoming messages too.  Words like “free” and “limited time offer” and other obvious promotional message words help identification software flag your message as likely spam / advertising mail.  But there are ways to build your call-to-action narrative without using the equivalent of profanity words to spam identification software.

Spam Identification
Email Links

Make sure all the links in your email message work and that they go to the pages specified. Do not use redirect links as that can creates a big red flag of concern for receiving servers.  Additionally, many phishing emails use shortened links to hide the real URL the person clicking the link will be sent to. It’s best to avoid this practice if possible. If you need to use them due to a long Amazon style URL, make the shortened description match the longer one as best as possible.  District email servers will frequently open all messages and engage links to make sure they are valid and secure (https – protocols).  MCH is amazed how many customers send us URLs that lead to “page not found” messages, or unsecured pages.  These will likely lead to message quarantine.

Bad Email
Good Email

Bad Email


Good Email


Beware of the email template builder.  Many email marketing sites now employ email template builders.  On the positive side, these template builders help keep messages tight / efficient and can help keep unsophisticated email authors from making very costly rookie mistakes.  But on the cautionary side these tools have frequently been built for consumer email purposes and they tend to be heavy on images and other things that are frequently stripped out by district servers.  See examples of how some of these emails look to a recipient:

Useful CTA

Create a useful CTA. Messages that are carefully written for a specific audience and provide helpful information that engages the reader to gather more information work best.  Use cases, success stories, white papers and other Call-To-Actions (CTAs) help encourage the message recipient to take the next step while not just asking for an order or lead. These useful CTAs also help keep your messages from being scored as pure promotional.

Subject lines that help engage a reader to open the message are obviously important. But beyond open rates, email recipients’ engagement with the message is critical.  In fact, many district email servers automatically open every email message to make sure they are safe and to check that all the links and attachments work properly.  So, it is more about the Message engagement vs open rates that is now becoming the new standard.  Messages that have low engagement run the risk of getting blocked and repeat offenders of low engagement campaigns run the risks of potentially being blacklisted.  There are no hard and fast engagement cutoff metrics.  But if your promotional email is not generating at least 0.5% click through rate you may find your sending domains being flagged as spam senders.

Engaging Subject Lines
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