3 Ways to Ensure Consistent Email Communication With Your Customers
As workers are being let go from their current positions, they leave behind not only their offices or cubicles, but also their outmoded work email addresses — those addresses that you, the conscientious email marketer, worked so hard to collect.
Any marketer will tell you that having an email bounce back because the recipient is no longer at that address can wreak havoc with an email distribution list. To make matters worse, many people choose to use their company emails as their primary contact when signing up for newsletters. When they leave these jobs, that contact information can be lost forever.
A former employee’s abandoned email box often is monitored by an IT or administrative staffer who's not interested in the finer points of opt-in email and may just start reporting all incoming mail as spam. So, on top of contending with outdated contact information and the inability to communicate with audiences, email marketers also must deal with upholding their reputations in the face of spam complaints.
Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when collecting email addresses to help your messages avoid being lost in a sea of bounceback email responses:
1. Ask for a primary email address. Most users today employ two or more personal email addresses. Some give different addresses to entities they don't trust and maintain separate accounts for trustworthy sources. That said, at sign-up — or at any other time you gather email addresses — tell your subscribers how their email addresses will be used. Give them a sense of comfort about sharing addresses that'll last through career changes. Inspire confidence in your potential audiences that this is the first step in a trusted relationship between them and your business.
2. Add an alternate email address field. When creating a list, adding a custom field labeled “alternate email address” can help the list owner keep track of both addresses. If at some point you get a bounced email at one address, you easily can use the other address to stay in contact.
3. Check in with your subscribers periodically. Ask them about their levels of satisfaction. Request that they update their contact preferences. In the process of finding out whether they’d be interested in additional products, services and communications, suggest they provide secondary addresses that they intend to keep.
To ensure that you gather the most reliable information to help stay connected with your subscribers for the long haul, stop thinking of them as simply email addresses. Remember that your ultimate goal is to develop long-term relationships with them. Following the few simple guidelines above will help you maintain a quality list that'll successfully connect you with your customers — no matter where they are.
Eric Groves is senior vice president of worldwide strategy and market development at Constant Contact, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of email marketing and online survey tools. Reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.