Mass Email Tools – Implementation and Migration Considerations

Letter being carefully put into an envelope (or perhaps taken out)

Written by Paul Ginsberg

15th February 2024

Email is old skool, however we all still use it. Those newsletters and legal updates don’t get delivered by magic.

So what’s a nonprofit (or small business) going to do? This article is going to set out some best practices for Salesforce-based smaller businesses – whether coming to mass mail distribution for the first time, or changing between different providers. The areas I highlight apply regardless of the tool you select.

This article covers:

  • What’s the objective?
  • Metrics
  • Nice to Haves
  • Mailing Lists / Topics
  • Data Quality
  • Single Source of Truth
  • GDPR
  • Sending / Avoiding Spam

Worth knowing: 80% of all my time with clients is spent on discussion and analysis, and only 20% on configuring, testing, training and documentation. Mass mail implementation or migration (from a different tool) is no different!

What’s the objective?

First of all you need to define what you want the tool to do. DON’T choose the tool before completing this step because sexy marketing or exciting entry pricing doesn’t always make for good choices.

You’ll also want to identify metrics and some other considerations identified later in this piece, because otherwise your tool of choice might not be able to meet your needs; or simply it may be unaffordable.

The typical objective is: to keep supporters updated with progress on the organisation’s mission (i.e. a newsletter)


Hunky man holding a tape measure

I love a good metric – it drives business discussions, and may even lead people to re-evaluate the objective. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a sign that people are embarking on this particular journey for the first time in a while and are discovering considerations on route.

Ask how often the newsletter will be sent out and to how many people… REALISTICALLY!

If you’ve been sending out something BCC once a quarter for the last 3 years and you aren’t about to employ new staff, then it’s likely that the frequency of communications won’t be changing any time soon.

Worth considering: When discussing how many recipients you have, I find the number of newsletters changes as the organisation considers all their disparate data sources. That’s the people that donate, people that have signed up for the mailing list, and other key stakeholders (so that’s 3 groups) – they all are probably getting different newsletters/updates; they are not all receiving identical briefings.

Nice to Haves

When sending out your emails, consider the information you want to include:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Key Data such as Membership Number, Type, Status or Total Donations This Year
  • Any segments that you wish to target your mailings by (purchases, courses, equipment, etc)

The segmenting can actually get quite tricky, so my recommendation is to keep all the segments really *broad* as it makes surfacing the data from Salesforce as easy as possible. One of my techniques here is to ask which segments have been targeted in the last year, or which once the marketing team/person has been jumping up and down in frustration that they haven’t been able to reach out directly so far.

One thing that people sometimes say is that they want to send out individual receipts. For that, I suggest keeping on using Salesforce since that is all within the capability of standard functionality, especially using Lightning Email Templates.

Mailing Lists / Topics

In an ideal world you would actually have a Related List on Salesforce, connected to Lead/Contact, with all of the different topics someone has signed up to. In my experience it’s all a bit of a headache to integrate this with most mailing list tools, so as long as you have 10 user-selected areas of interest or less, I would recommend just incorporating these different options as tick boxes on Contact.

Data Quality

Next we come on to data quality. Here there’s two things I need to do every time:

Deduplicate email addresses – mailing list software cannot usually send out to two people with the same email address but different names, even though the Salesforce side can support this architecture. In this instance, the smallest set of features win! So you need to deduplicate your email addresses on Salesforce and put in place processes to stop this happening in the future (e.g. duplicate rules).

Missing names – emails should be addressed to people. If you discover that you don’t always have someone’s name, my top suggestion is to set the First Name to “Friend” and the Last Name to “of Organisation”. That way, at least you can import and start to use it, even if it isn’t perfect.

Single Source of Truth

Often there are multiple data sources. What I do is combine them all in one known place, where you have lots of control. So we’re talking about Salesforce here, and more specifically the Contact object.

This means that prior to turning on your new mass mail tool, you need to upload all the data into Salesforce and mark the topics that someone has opted to receive.

Change in process: If you have a website sign up form, then send that data (and the GDPR opt in statement) straight to the Contact object NOT directly to the mailing tool – this way there’s only one place to look at if you want to know if someone has signed up, or changed any of their person data. The mailing tool can simply, regularly, update its data from the Single Source of Truth.


A calculator displaying the word "penalty", side a pile of coins and a legal-looking hammer.

If you haven’t had a GDPR opt in statement, then there’s no better time to implement one now. I tend to capture both the Opt In Source (e.g. “Webpage GDPR Form”) and the Opt In Date. That way if the GDPR statement changes you can easily track which T&Cs the recipient signed up to.

Worth knowing: If someone signs up multiple times, I just overwrite their Opt In Source & Date as the latest opt in is always the most current. And if you have previously collected GDPR information, but perhaps not as thoroughly: Source: Historic, Date: 01/01/1970 is still better than nothing, in terms of indicating what’s gone on, and will be gradually updated over time.

Sending / Avoiding Spam

Now you are wondering what tool to use, and I’ll be commenting on that in my next piece but – regardless of which tool you decide to use – ensure that you follow the tool provider’s hoops to avoid their emails being marked as spam. If you follow their instructions but they don’t mention SPF or DKIM, then you’ve definitely missed something!

Speaking of which, here is a detailed guide on how to send emails out of Salesforce, avoiding the spam protection systems of Gmail and Outlook (well, unless you are sending unsolicited email, in which case the systems are working as designed!).


As ever, the more time you spend on the prep work, the greater the amount of time you save yourself later on – better quality data, a better positioned tool and overall more successful and effective outcomes. It’s proportional relationship, with a very good multiplier effect!

The only real question is: What tool do I recommend for smaller organisations? Here’s a clue: there’s a future article – not written yet – taking a look at Campaign Monitor and its associated Salesforce integration. Subscribe to avoid missing out 😊 (details usually on the right hand side, but mobile views may differ)

I’m now enjoying Bluesky for what it’s worth (open to all – sign up codes no longer needed), so feel free to connect/follow me there . I’m also on LinkedIn of course, or catch up via my archive.

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