If, like me, you're old enough to remember the first time you went online, setting up an email account was probably one of the first things you did. It's such an integral part of the digital experience that the basic distinctions in email are not commonly spoken about. For example, I bet you've sent an email directly to another person. You may use a company email address, with the format of email@example.com to send emails. If you use an email address with this format, including an organization's name after the "@" sign, you're using a custom domain email address. You might also have a free email address from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or another mailbox provider.
On the other hand, you've probably subscribed to email from organizations. Sending an email to a large group of people at once is known as bulk email. Similarly, setting up an email blast for one of your nation's broadcasters is a form of bulk email.
We have a lot of tips for getting your email delivered and opened, but the most basic is to use a custom domain email address. Since so many individuals use free addresses, internet service providers (ISPs) don't think twice before delivering one-to-one email from those addresses. On the other hand, ISPs work hard to ensure that spam is filtered out of their users' inboxes. Sending bulk email from a free address sets off ISP spam filters and severely diminishes the likelihood of your email being received, let alone opened, by your intended recipients.
We recommend purchasing a custom domain for your nation's website and having NationBuilder host your DNS records. When you connect a custom domain in this manner, we set up all of the records needed for your email blasts to be recognized properly. Alternatively, you can use the CNAME method to connect your domain to your website, which will require you to set up mail records with your domain provider. And if your organization is just getting off the ground and you don't have a custom domain, we recommend setting up your broadcaster to use the address associated with your nation's slug. To do this, you'll need to choose a username and in the email field type in firstname.lastname@example.org.
For example, I've set up a broadcaster in the Abe for Prez demo nation, which you can see in the image on the right. Your nation slug is the name of your nation that appears before ".nationbuilder.com" in your website address and is the string of characters you chose when setting up your nation. Even if you have a custom domain connected to your website, you'll see your nation's slug at the beginning of the address when viewing your nation's control panel.
Another reason to use a custom domain rather than the emailnb.com address is that it allows you to reinforce your community's affiliation with your organization's name. If you've connected a custom domain but don't have an email provider, you can select NationBuilder as your email provider and use NationBuilder Mailboxes to receive one-to-one email.
There are two aspects to sending email blasts. First, you have to set up the blast and understand the mechanics (like the need to use a custom domain address as the sender). Next, you need to optimize your email to ensure it is delivered to your recipients' inboxes. We have detailed documentation, including video tutorials, to help you with both aspects.
How-to documentation for setting up and scheduling your email blasts:
Lilia Villa, our email deliverability manager, has created several resources on deliverability I think you'll find useful.