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Webbula Testimonial | USA for UNHCR, Refugees & InboxPros


Email marketing is one of the most valuable tools Not-For-Profits (NFPs) can use to stay engaged and connected with donors and supporters.

The goal for any NFP is to produce content its audience wants to engage with. Success is measured by how effectively an organization converts supporter engagement into a financial commitment to its cause. Success is greatly curbed when email deliverability issues arise.  

The following case study documents best practices for solving email deliverability challenges. An understanding of deliverability challenges allows NFPs to execute a more effective and comprehensive email strategy. Donors and supporters will receive proper acknowledgement and more funds will be raised for the NFP’s cause.

To help us unwrap a recent email deliverability challenge and analyze the health of customer and prospect email marketing strategy, we sat down with Emily Lauten, Digital Marketing Manager at USA for UNHCR. USA for UNHCR is a non-profit organization established by concerned American citizens with the mission to protect refugees and empower them with hope and opportunity. Their work is in support of UNHCR and partners, and focuses on raising awareness and funds for refugees. They provide help in the way of lifesaving assistance for those that are forced to flee, hope in the way of jobs, skills and language training while they are displaced and ultimately a home, be that a safe return to their home countries or a new life in another country.

Below we share Emily’s email deliverability challenge and how she was quickly able to get back on track. Spoiler alert: it helped that she leveraged the email industry’s most comprehensive Email Data Quality tools from Webbula to deliver insights into the health of USA for UNHCR’s customer and prospect email file.

A Sophisticated Program Hits a Roadblock: The Problem

USA for UNHCR sends many different types of email ranging from fundraising, donor impact updates and engagement pieces about refugees. Dependable email deliverability is critical for USA for UNHCR’s digital operations, so they rely on the leading deliverability consultants leveraging the industry’s most comprehensive and accurate email data quality tools. Before engaging the services of InboxPros, they conducted IP warming (the practice of gradually increasing the volume of email sent with a dedicated IP address according to a predetermined schedule). This gradual process helps establish a reputation with Internet service providers (ISPs) as a legitimate email sender with their email service provider (ESP). After a successful IP warming process, USA for UNHCR experienced a dramatic increase in email engagement for several months.

However, approximately 6 months after the IP warming, they began to encounter significant deliverability issues to Gmail and Hotmail accounts. USA for UNHCR has a well-established email marketing program that includes the understanding of conversion rates, list growth rates, and email engagement metrics – including sharing/forwarding. They track standard performance benchmarks like a number of emails sent, number of emails delivered, average open rate, click-through rate, soft and hard bounce rate, spam complaint rate and unsubscribe rates. These engagement metrics drive financial metrics and help them determine overall campaign ROI. Low deliverability inboxing to Gmail and Hotmail account was a major concern.

After hitting the send button, important email communications were ending up in spam folders instead of the inbox. “People were not getting the chance to see our emails,” Lauten described. ”We reached out to InboxPros for help, and that’s when they recommended Webbula.”

InboxPros and Webbula: The Solution

Before USA for UNHCR could apply email data quality best practices to their prospect and customer email data with Webbula, InboxPros broke the email data down to help everyone understand the data they were working with. It was critical to understand what sources of data were used to grow their email list – a CRM database, marketing partner, petition, webinar or some other lead generation activity – and how emails from each source were performing. Learning more about the type and source of the data helped everyone understand the priorities and what the best path forward would be.

In the case of older, outdated email addresses, industry best practice is to apply a comprehensive level of email intelligence so you can identify before you hit ‘send’, the emails that are no longer deliverable. Identifying those email addresses in the data that are ‘Valid’ (aka deliverable) but may still cause negative impact to your Email Sender Reputation (a score that an ISP assigns to an organization that sends email). The higher the score, the more likely an ISP will deliver emails to the inboxes of recipients. It’s critical to identify which emails are malicious, spam traps (emailing these is a potential for blacklisting), bots (not real people), or phishing (fraudsters). Before proceeding, USA for UNHCR ran all their email data through a comprehensive email data quality test that delivered an insightful Email Health Checkup Report. In other words – Webbula Multi-Method Email Hygiene.

The Digital Marketing team at USA for UNHCR agreed to move forward with an Email Health Checkup and understood that this solution could result in a smaller list, but would improve deliverability rates.

In June 2018, USA for UNHCR processed their supporter list with a 18.86 percent open rate – sending to a very small, targeted portion – through Webbula’s cloudHygiene platform that applied a comprehensive multi-method email hygiene and verification process. InboxPros then broke the remaining data down by each ISP. Gmail, which USA for UNHCR were most concerned about, had the lowest inbox placement, but the largest audience. Hotmail had the most complaints, and Yahoo had low inbox placement as well.

Once the list was broken down, USA for UNHCR sent emails in small chunks while adding in new prospects. Lauten shared their method:

“We followed the strategies that InboxPros suggested right away. We started by removing the biggest threats to our data based on the information from Webbula, and then began sending to our most engaged members of the remaining file. We wanted to ensure we send emails to those most likely to open our emails, to improve our domain reputation. We decided not to suppress any of our donors, even if they were flagged as anything less than perfect. This was important to us; we want our donors to receive critical information about the work they help make happen.”

InboxPros adjusted its strategy multiple times due to the large email list, not to mention the time constraint it was working under – the plight of refugees is urgent and can’t wait.

After Webbula

After applying the results from Webbula’s cloudHygiene comprehensive multi-method email hygiene and verification process to the email data, the open rate was minimally impacted after more than doubling their standard send sizes to include less engaged audiences. Open rates increased from a low of 4.81 percent in April to 16.50 percent in July. InboxPros’ research suggests no significant deliverability issues once open rates reach at least 15 percent. The results spoke for themselves; deliverability was greatly improved. As always we still encourage all sides to maintain good list hygiene practices each quarter.

Take a look at the chart below. Here you can see the Average Open Rate broken down per Audience starting in May (before Webbula) and July (after Webbula).





Midlevel donors



Monthly donors



Active donors



Active donors who joined 2+ years ago




There was a lift in open rates after applying Webbula cloudHygiene’s comprehensive multi-method email hygiene and verification process to the email data across audiences. In the chart below you can see that open rates actually decreased among two specific audiences, but it’s important to note that in July the lists were opened to include 6 months of engaged users (nearly doubling the lapsed/delinquent and new/engaged subscriber send sizes). This had a slightly negative impact on open rates in the month of July. (See Below Chart) The inclusion of those users was only possible due to the email intelligence results that Webbula cloudHygiene had already delivered.




Lapsed or delinquent donors



New or engaged subscribers



 The Future Is Bright for USA for UNHCR

“Moving forward, as we conduct lead generation, we will use Webbula and quarterly checks to ensure that the emails that join our file are clean and unlikely to negatively impact the deliverability of the rest of our file,” said Lauten.

“In terms of overall revenue and email engagement, I anticipate that we will continue to improve.”

The results speak for themselves, not only for USA for UNHCR, but other organizations that rely on email. Rely on Multi-Method Email Hygiene & Verification and continue to maintain good list hygiene, to increase your own email list growth, deliverability/inboxing, open, click, and conversion rates to maximize ROI and save the world.

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