A Journey in Deliverability: How DoSomething Increased Their Open Rate by 180%

DoSomething is the largest youth-led organization dedicated to activating young adults to change the world for the better through social change. Their social impact programming has mobilized millions of members from clothing half of America’s youth in homeless shelters, cleaning up millions of cigarette butts from the streets, to registering over 250,000 people to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Their digital platform mobilizes our youth to create better communities for everyone.

The Challenge Open rates down by 75%.

The Fix Deliverability fixes, Smart suppression, Segmentation

The Result 2.8x increased open rate (180% relative increase. 4.95% increased click-through rate (395% relative increase)

Challenge 

DoSomething saw membership open rates falling to ¼ of what they once were (a 75% decrease). As is the nature of nonprofits, membership is the backbone to what powers their mission, so declining open rates was having a direct and negative impact on their overall business and goals as an organization.

Realizing that open rates were falling was only half the battle. At the time, they had no idea why this was happening, let alone how to fix it. Deliverability can be a tricky puzzle to tackle, but with some few key recommendations from our powerhouse of Customer Success Managers, DoSomething was not only able to get their deliverability rates way above industry average, but are now armed with the knowledge and tools to be self-sufficient and run on autopilot. 

Putting Together the Puzzle Pieces

DoSomething has a database of millions of members. Before using Customer.io, they were sending all users in their database every email, regardless of their interests or demographic on MailChimp. This tactic dramatically works against your deliverability rate, which DoSomething came to learn the hard way. While they wanted to suppress their list and segment users, MailChimp simply didn’t have the capability to segment and suppress as accurately as they needed. Their open rates at the time were about 8%-9%, way below the industry average. 

“When we were on MailChimp, we had severe deliverability issues for 2 reasons. The first being that we weren’t able to be on our own dedicated IP like we’re able to on Customer.io. Our emails weren’t going where they needed to go. The second was our inability to filter out users, and clean up lists within Mailchimp.” 

Anthony Aurrichio, Senior Manager, Digital Engagement at DoSomething.org

Since Mailchimp’s mandatory shared IPs did not have a strong reputation with Google, switching to a dedicated IP on Customer.io was a no-brainer for DoSomething, and a no-brainer for Customer.io to set them up on. However, when it comes to segmentation, the fix wasn’t as simple. Knowing they needed to suppress and filter out users was only half the battle…

Segmentation 

DoSomething was at a loss for how to go about segmenting their users. How do I formulate who is suppressed? What user attributes should we consider? When should we consider someone inactive? What event triggers make the most sense for us to build around? These were all hurdles DoSomething leaned on Customer.io to help build-out. This resulted in two jurassic changes: 

  1. Subscription center- Letting members choose which newsletters they wanted to opt into.
  2. Smarter segmentation – Understanding users and creating rules based on what they want from including:
    • Setting parameters around when users last engaged with the brand
    • Creating user journeys based on who you are (age, where you come from, what you said you were interested in) to deliver the right content to the right people
    • Event triggers that grouped certain users together based on actions they took

The Future is Clear and Bright

In addition to the more tactical recommendations surrounding segmentation setup, Customer.io was also able to equip DoSomething with the knowledge to strategize holistically when it comes to Deliverability. In fact, DoSomething now has a ~35-page ‘manifesto’ dedicated to deliverability that the company operates by, which Customer.io was able to partner with to help make it come alive. Some of the concepts we were able to coach DoSomething through were:

  • What are some best practices for warming up new domains? Should we also move to new IPs or is the new domain sufficient to protect our corporate email?
  • Is putting old emails on a suppression list or “do not email” list sufficient to mark them as unsubscribed? Or should we fully scrub old profiles? 
  • How should we go about creating our subdomains for different newsletters/corporate emails

From there, they were able to send emails with purpose and sculpt an intentional customer journey. They tiptoed into these concepts previously, but they didn’t have the support or the industry knowledge that Customer.io brought to go full throttle into mastering Deliverability. 

“The landscape of the industry is changing so much. We definitely rely on Customer.io’s expertise to stay in the know. The best practices we’ve learned from them allow us to be on autopilot and prevent issues before they have the chance to arise.”

Jen Ng, Director of Product at DoSomething

“The landscape of the industry is changing so much. We definitely rely on customer.io’s expertise to stay in the know. The best practices we’ve learned from them allows us to be on autopilot and prevent issues before they have the chance to arise.” – Jen Ng, Director of Product at DoSomething

Results

With the combined power of being on their own dedicated IP, getting the right guidance from Customer.io’s expert Customer Success Managers on segmentation and setup, and harnessing the power of event triggers into their strategy, DoSomething was able to create a suppression policy that made sense for their inactive users, increasing their open rate by 2.8x, a 180% relative increase.

Not only that, but their average click rate increased by 4.95%, a 395% relative increase.

When compared to their metrics before implementing Customer.io, DoSomething has been able to maintain the same amount of click-throughs today as they previously were, with only sending 21% of their total email send volume.

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