7 Techniques to Improve E-Mail List Integrity (445 words)
7 Techniques to Improve E-Mail List Integrity
By Matt Blumberg and Tim Dolan
Establish proper customer notice and permission. To ensure you have a quality customer e-mail address you must first ask you customer for permission to communicate with them by e-mail. The methods used to acquire permission vary. Most companies accomplish this by placing a check box next to a permission statement on their Web site.
Confirm or verify the e-mail address. Confirming or verifying the e-mail address with the customer before accepting it into your database strengthens the level of permission attained and reduces data entry errors.
Require customers to enter their e-mail address twice. This simple technique is designed to catch data entry errors commonly made by your customers when they enter their e-mail address on your Web site forms.
Train employees tasked with capturing customer e-mail addresses on proper data entry methods. When customer service or teleservice representatives request e-mail addresses from customers during phone interactions, make sure they record the addresses correctly. For example, make sure they know to record John_doe@testcompany.com instead of jonunderscoredoe@testcompanydotcom.
Prompt customers to correct their e-mail address when they return to your Web site. If your Web site uses a customer log-in mechanism, you can use that customer ID to flag customers on your database whose e-mail addresses have gone bad. When they return to your Web site and log in, you can prompt them to update their e-mail address on the site or via a pop-up window.
Add an e-mail change of address facility to your Web site. Forty-three percent of companies do not have a Web site facility enabling customers to notify them of an e-mail address change. Without this capability, not only do you lose the customers who do not notify you of an e-mail address change, but you also lose the customers who want to tell you about the change, but can't.
Conduct a review of your current e-mail list and bounce handling processes. Whether you use an internal e-mail delivery system or outsource to a third party, it's important to understand how the list is prepared for each mailing, and how e-mail bounces are handled. Bounce handling systems process and interpret e-mail "bounce" responses—the messages returned to your service when an e-mail is undeliverable.
These responses contain codes identifying the circumstances that contributed to the delivery failure. Understanding the capabilities of your e-mail delivery systems will help you access whether you are getting the results you require from your software or service provider.
Matt Blumberg is CEO of Return Path, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tim Dolan is vice president of marketing and can be reached at email@example.com.