Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Responsible way to Send Emergency and Mass Notifications



Have you ever been in a situation where you need to send a notification to many persons, either to remind them of an important event, or keep them informed before and after an emergency or a natural disaster?

The aim of this article is to discuss the steps required to effectively create and manage an emergency and mass notification initiative.

1) Get permission

A major challenge with sending mass emails is proving to other email providers that permission was given to send emails. Most email service providers will block unsolicited emails, and even blacklist the owner of the associated website. When an website/domain is blacklisted, no emails from that website will be accepted by the major email service providers on the Internet.

The solution is to implement a clear process for preventing unsolicited emails. This is achieved by requesting permission from each contact, before sending them emails or SMS messages. This is referred to as the "Opt-in" process. 

2) Verify the email and telephone #

Now that you have received permission to send messages to a recipient, how do you know if the contact information provided is valid. It is expensive to send SMS messages, and the cost ramps up quickly for mass emails.

One approach to validating an email involves sending a test message, containing an authorization code (e.g. 123456), to the customer. This code can then be used to activate their subscription account via phone or on a website.

3) Protect your data

There have been many high profile data breaches over the past three (3) years. In all cases, customer name, emails, and telephone numbers have been stolen and used in social engineering attacks **.

The key is to know what customer information is confidential, and apply the appropriate security controls on it. It is best practice for confidential information to be encrypted, when stored on a server, and securely access it when required to do so.

4) Give option to opt-out

Last and not least, you must give customers an effective way of removing themselves from a mailing list. When several recipients of your emails have marked it as a spam message**, you may eventually have your email address blacklisted. It is a very time-consuming and tedious effort to be removed from those lists.

So the key takeaway is to allow persons to remove themselves from a mailing list, which is referred to as the "Opt-out" process. Respect their right to choose.

Conclusion
At the end of the day, you must be careful with how you implement best practice in the mass notifications process, and Subscribedin Communications provides an easy and flexible solution to achieve this.

If you would like to discuss the emergency and mass notification process, or the Subscribedin Communications tool, drop me a message via the form to the right of this page.

With best regards,
Norval


** Terms:
  • Social Engineering refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. To read more visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_%28security%29
  • A Spam message is an unsolicited, undesired, or illegal messages being sent to an individual
  • A Blacklisted Domains occurs when an domain used by an email, is blocked from sending emails to one or more email service providers.