Question: How and when do I resolicit e-mail addresses that have bounced?

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Answer: In the early years of e-mail marketing, standardized codes labeled bounced e-mails as either hard or soft and provided valuable information as to why the e-mails bounced. Today, the line between hard and soft bounces is fuzzy, blurred by coding that is often unclear or void of explanation. As a result, determining how to best resolicit bounced e-mail addresses becomes more of an assessment of a customer’s value to your bottom line, and less—at least initially—about why the e-mail bounced.

Customer value will usually influence the methods you use to resolicit. High-value customers may merit more costly resoliciting means, such as appends, direct mail or even well-placed phone calls by customer relationship managers. Moderate-value customers may necessitate more passive, less-expensive methods, such as account flagging for information updates in your CRM database. Low-value customers may be removed from your e-mail list altogether to reduce costs and maintain list hygiene.

Once you’ve determined the customers’ value and identified the methods you’ll use to contact them, there are three key messages you’ll need to convey to your customers in any resolicit for bounced e-mails:

  • Thank them for their business. Tell them you value them as a customer, and inform them that their e-mails are being bounced. They may not be aware of any problems, or in the case of an e-mail change of address, they may have forgotten to update their account information with you.
  • Remind them of the value they receive from being on your e-mail lists and highlight the benefits of opting in again.
  • Tell them how they can continue to receive e-mails from you. Be prepared to offer diagnostics as to what may be causing "correct e-mail address bounces," such as personal filter settings or IT department configurations, and educate them on how to correct these problems.

Remember, timing is of the essence. Regardless of what method you use, you need to resolicit promptly—the longer you wait, the more you risk permanent loss—and with value in mind. Time your resolicit with promotions, announcements or other events to enhance the value of being on your e-mail lists to your customers.

Elaine O’Gorman is the VP-strategy at Silverpop (, a permission-based e-mail marketing solutions provider.

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