Temporary Targets

Every time you send out your e-newsletter, you probably become more aware of how transient Internet users are, changing email addresses like some change their socks. As people switch jobs and Internet service providers, their email addresses also change, and, unfortunately, e-tailers are often the last to know.

Unless a customer is methodical about notifying all her email contacts or the shopper is a frequent visitor to your site, you probably won’t know of the e-address change until mail starts to bounce. Here are some methods for recapturing transient email recipients and preventing interruption of e-marketing messages:

  • Don’t be alarmed after the first bounce — it could be attributed to a temporary network or server problem and not necessarily the result of a closed email account. Try a few more times and if the messages are still undeliverable, add the names to a database of “lost” customers that you will attempt to recover.
  • Make it simple for customers to update their contact information with a change of address form on your Web site. The visual reminder should appear on transaction pages and anywhere customers can input personal data.
  • FreshAddress.com, ReturnPath.net, and ChangeAddress.com are effective change of address systems, but they only work if your customer has registered with them. You might want to explore some of the features of the services — they often have methods to help e-tailers entice their customers into using the system.
  • Use the customer’s snail mail address to send direct marketing messages or create a specialized postcard as reminder to update account information.
  • If you are able to locate the customer’s new e-address through your own investigative efforts, don’t automatically sign them up for your promotional messages. You should obtain permission for every email address — even if the same person has multiple email accounts. Send a personalized note letting the customer know that you were unable to deliver messages to the old email account and include your subscribe information.
  • Patience may pay off. It’s quite possible that customers will update their records when they place their next order, so don’t panic when you lose names from your list. If the customer was pleased with your Web store and your products or services, it is almost certain there will be a return visit.

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