For the purpose of this post I’m going to assume that you do some email marketing and/or have a CRM (or a place you keep contact data) up to date. If you don’t do either, stop reading blogs (sorry Carol) and spend some time researching ways you can start collecting your data in a centralized place.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.
A hard email bounce is an email that fails to reach its destination due to an invalid email address. This usually happens when someone quits or is fired. Hard bounces have always been classified as a negative. Here are three reasons why that thinking is wrong.
#1 – Data cleanliness
A good portion of you reading this are either a startup or a small business. One of the most important assets (and sometimes the only one) you have is your database. Clean data is something you will fight for as long as you are in business. Sure, hard bounces can be a positive, but you would rather not have them happen at all. When one does happen, it’s an opportunity to clean up your information on that individual and ensure it doesn’t happen again. For businesses looking to sell their database or sell the company eventually, a low percentage of email bounces shows that you have clean data worth paying for.
#2 – Customer retention
As a small B2B business you probably have some key clients that have kept you afloat or that you couldn’t afford to lose at this stage of your business. So what happens when you are busy running the day-to-day operations and your key contact inside your key account leaves? There is a good chance you won’t know about it when it happens. By the time you realize it, the new point of contact in the account is doing business with their friend – a business they dealt with at a previous job or your competitor.
How can an email bounce prevent this? Since you have a database and communicate to it regularly, you got a hard bounce that showed Carol Roth’s email address is no longer valid. Whether Carol got fired (sorry Carol) or took another job or retired doesn’t matter; you now have a list of companies that you need to go visit immediately. Not call, not email but visit. When you visit, don’t tell them you are visiting because Carol isn’t there anymore. Rather, pretend you are just stopping by one of your great customers to see how things are going. You will seem psychic, just in a less creepy way.
#3 – New leads
Now that you know Carol has left the company, the first thing you do is delete her name from your database, right? Wrong. Hopefully you have a good enough relationship with Carol that you have her cell phone number and/or personal email. If you have one of those, then it’s easy enough to send her a message and find out how she is doing.
Again, you have to be sly about it and seem psychic in your approach – but it can pay big dividends. As long as Carol liked your service or product (and needs it at her new job) that extra phone call to her personally could open up an opportunity for you with her new company. If you find out she has changed industries, maybe you can connect her with someone you know in that field.
Other bounces can be an opportunity to keep you top of mind with your customers without the communication seeming to be too sales-y. Email bounced due to spam? Give your contact a call and ask that they add you to their email whitelist.
Inbox full? Give them a call and tell them about Inbox Zero. (You get the drift.)
So now that the stigma around email bounces has been lifted, stay in touch with your database and turn this perceived negative into one of these three positives starting today.
So what do you think? Could this help your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
By day Chris Theisen is the Director of Digital Communication for FlexPAC, a distributor of industrial packaging and janitorial supplies. By night he is a father of three, a husband and also finds a few minutes to help companies like Lost Golf Balls with their online marketing. He has never owned a musket.
Great article! It is very important to have the correct contact info...and ofcourse it can be reason to call and is a good segway in to a conversation which can ALWAYS build relationships and ALWAYS has the potential to get a sale! Thanks for this! (Plus its so good to make every single thing positive!!) : )
Great thoughts, Chris! Any time an email comes back as a "hard bounce", I see it as an opportunity to find out what life event happened for the company and for the recipient. And that chance to reconnect always helps strengthen the relationships.
@schmaljenhofer thanks for the kind words, glad you found some value in the post. Anytime you have an excuse to converse with customers or prospects without it being directly about sales take full advantage of it.