Reliably sending our customer's emails

Email is critical for everybody, but even more so for nonprofit organizations as this represents the primary means to spread the word about their mission, showcase their results, and directly or indirectly sollicit the donations that are critical to their very existence.

We know this well at Cividesk, and have created a world-class email infrastructure to make sure we very reliably send our customer's emails. Here is a sneak peak at that infrastructure and the choices behind it:

Our very first decision was to leave email delivery to the professionals - there are so many things that can go wrong with setting-up and maintaining your own SMTP servers, dealing with return paths, spam complaints and blacklists that this is better left off to reputable outside providers. We are now using both SparkPost and ElasticEmail to deliver our customer's emails, and have self-funded and developed the Sparkpost extension for CiviCRM for this purpose.

Why two providers? Well, each have different requirements, and every customer's email is routed to the one that is best suited for it. For example, Sparkpost requires that all sending domains are authenticated with SPF and DKIM records. Creating these is not always possible, for example with the smaller organizations that could be using a gmail.com email address for their communications. We however strongly recommend usage of both SPF and DKIM and create these records for our customers whenever possible.

Our next decision was to only send emails through a set of dedicated IP addresses. We have therefore purchased dedicated IP addresses with each of our providers. This isolates our customers from our provider's other customers, and therefore shields us from the adverse effects of abuses that are inherent to mass-mailing on a very large scale.

Then, we contracted a third party service to monitor the reputation of these dedicated IP addresses - we trust our providers, but noneless like to keep an eye on things. This has allowed us to react very quickly in a few instances where these addresses were incorrectly flagged. We therefore have reached 100 reputation, which is the highest score attainable, on all our decicated IP addresses.

Finally, we are fully leveraging the CiviCRM mechanisms to require CAN-SPAM compliance on all bulk emails, as well as register and process hard and soft bounces so we place the offending email addresses on hold.

All these measures combined (dynamic choice between two email delivery providers, SPF and DKIM authentication, dedicated IP addresses, reputation monitoring, CAN-SPAM compliance and bounces processing) create a highly reliable and efficient email delivery infrastructure. And the results speak for themselves as we constantly achieve world-class email delivery rates for all our customers.