Use technology to catch typos. Your Web site probably already does baseline validation (e.g., it refuses e-mail addresses without an “@” sign, etc.), and you can easily expand upon this. By working with your internal tech team or an outside vendor, you can improve your front-end coding so it flags common e-mail address errors and catches and corrects misspellings, just like spell-check.
Now that you’ve identified what ails your list, it’s time to remedy the problems, including:
Allow customers to proactively update their e-mails. If you have happy customers, they will want to keep you informed of any e-mail address changes. Make it easy for them by:
- Clarifying what e-mail addresses you have for them and providing an easy, user-friendly way to update them—use your Web site, e-mail communications (e.g., “annual member renewals”), point-of-sale employees, call-center reps, etc.
- Responding in a timely manner to requests from your customers regarding updates; assure them you are listening to them and respecting their needs and wishes.
- Asking for backup e-mail addresses during registration. Should there be a problem down the line with the primary address, don’t miss a beat by switching over to the backup.
Capture corrections when customers are in e-mail limbo. For many of your customers, there will be a fleeting moment (typically a few days or weeks) when they have new e-mail addresses but are still checking e-mail at their old addresses. You can envision some of these scenarios: those last two days at a job, signing into dial-up one last time before switching to high-speed, etc.
During this period of limbo, you have a golden opportunity to obtain your customer’s new e-mail address. While this may sound like a shot in the dark, every update you make is a saved relationship. Here are some ideas: