Follow The Bouncing Blue... E-mail?

Last week, Andy Goldman wrote about people who unsubscribe from e-mails, and what you can and should do about it. This week, I sat down with Jeanniey Mullen, co-founder of the E-mail Experience Council, to get her insights on a similar topic: bouncebacks.

Dylan Boyd: Andy's column last week had some good points about the impact that unsubscribers can have to your bottom line over time. Do you agree with his viewpoint?

Jeanniey Mullen: Absolutely! In fact, I think that we, as marketers need to take a much closer look at bouncebacks. The percentage and type of bounces we receive can often give us clues into future needs for messaging, and ensure we do not unintentionally ignore some of our best customers.

DB: So, what is an acceptable bounceback rate? When should marketers worry?

JM: That is a tough question. Most industry reports will tell you that anything less than 10 percent is acceptable. Many marketers set benchmarks around 7 percent. But, the reality is, that if you collect an e-mail address through opt-in, or better yet, double opt-in, and it bounces within the first 12 months, you should consider it a priority to review the reasons why.



DB: But if a marketer has a list of 10,000 e-mails, and 100 of them bounce--is that really a big deal?

JM: It is a huge deal. E-mails that bounce back are really indicators that we, as marketers have an issue we need to take care of. The most common reasons that an e-mail bounces back are: content blocking by spam filters and poorly configured technology platforms. In both of these cases, it's not that your customers don't want to hear from you, it's that they never know you tried to reach them and start to think you are ignoring them. If only 10 of the 100 records that bounced used to be in your 'high value' or 'best customer' segment, you may have just alienated them, or eliminated future sales.

DB: Besides lost customers, what are some of the other pitfalls of ignoring bounces?

JM: Good question. As your bounceback file grows, you need to ensure you have some rules set that will suppress these records after a certain number of failed attempts (example: three). This will ensure your list hygiene is effective and will keep you in good graces with many of the ISPs.

DB: This all sounds good, but do you have any case study info you can share?

JM: Glad you asked, Dylan, the best study I can provide you with is from our very own EEC. Our list has a very small number of bounces--30--to provide you an exact target that we are tracking with each campaign sent. But with a double-opt in subscription process on a niche list that is less than 90 days old, any bounces means we need to investigate the reason why. A recent analysis we conducted showed that over 80 percent of our bounces were due to very aggressive content filtering. This insight enabled us to recognize the need to design alternative delivery strategies for these domains. So we did. And the result was very positive, as these recipients provide some of the passionate involvement the EEC is looking for. Given our recent results, I would highly recommend the creation of alternative delivery methods to everyone out there.

DB: I would challenge readers to better track their bounces and have a plan that their team can executive to resolve any delivery issues.

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