Email – the dreaded ‘delivery status notification (failure)

This week I am welcoming my first guest blogger – Holly Thorne from Virtual Angels

UNDELIVERABLE: your email

Imagine: you’ve spent ages composing an email. Pressed send and then… in a matter of seconds, back comes the dreaded ‘delivery status notification (failure)’.  That’s not so bad if it’s just one email, but what if you’ve just sent your latest email campaign and it’s not just one bounce but a large percentage of your campaign list.  You might be losing out on valuable customers.

Contact details can be wrong for many reasons; the details were recorded incorrectly; the person has moved roles or companies; or maybe they’ve changed their name.  These are just some of the reasons but what can you do to keep information up to date?

Set up a Database

Create a database or consider signing up to a CRM system that’s suitable for your business.  If your contact details are all in one place, you’ll know where to find them. Many CRM systems can now integrate with your emails or other marketing tools to make updating contact information even simpler.  With a contact database you can make notes or create tags so that you can record information such as when you last contacted someone, their preferred name or where you met them.

When choosing a system, consider if you require restricted access (e.g. logins with password access), multiple user logins or customisable fields. If using an online CRM system, check where your data will be stored and how it will be kept safe.

Your contact database should be your ‘single source of truth’ when it comes to contact information and if you have other team members, you need to ensure they know this too. That way, if you’re off sick or a member of staff leaves, the rest of your team can still find relevant information – so contacts are still contactable.

Back it up!

If you’re keeping an electronic database, back it up at least once per week. Ensure the backup is secure and cannot be accessed by people who should not have access to it.

Maintain and Update

It’s really important that you regularly review and update your contact database, also known as ‘data cleaning’. The best trick for this is little and often – spot check contact records and as soon as you become aware of any changes, update them.

If someone’s email bounces, make a note of it the first time. If it bounces again, try contacting them in a different way to see if they are still using that email, or if they have an alternative one they would like you to use.

Ultimately, you can have the fanciest CRM system in the world, but it you don’t have good quality data you may as well have a carrier bag messily stuffed full of business cards!

Finally – The Data Protection Act 1998 outlines your legal obligations when you hold information. This includes keeping personal data accurate and up to date. If you’re unsure of your obligations, check out the ICO website for more information.

If you would like to learn more about setting up a CRM system, Holly would be happy to chat with you.  Her email is holly@virtualangels.co.uk.

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