Credit union communications are moving to an electronic format. Not only is it more environmentally friendly and convenient for the member, but it also reduces expenses. Essentially, any communication that is not regulated to be sent as physical mail is now being considered for email delivery.
While email seems like a relatively straightforward form of communication, it has its difficulties. Just like any piece of contact data, an email address can easily be mistyped during data entry. This type of contact data is also similar to a physical mailing address because it is dynamic and changes on a regular basis.
Contacts often have multiple addresses for business and personal use and those addresses can change frequently based on employment, security and life events.
Email address errors are very common, but they often go unnoticed. Frequently, large mailers notice the general number of bounced emails, but do not dig into that list to find out which email addresses are truly inaccurate. If members do not receive communications from their credit union, they may miss important news and special offers, potentially damaging member satisfaction. But a large number of bounced emails, also known as the bounce rate, can also hurt all future email communications as well.
Each email domain earns a reputation with the major internet service providers, like Google and Yahoo! Emails sent from that domain receive placement in a consumer’s inbox based on the positive or negative nature. If too many emails bounce from a particular domain, then an ISP may consider the sender a spammer and start to place emails in the spam or junk inbox or prevent delivery of the communication altogether.
The communications sent through email, such as statement notifications and marketing offers, can have a significant impact on retention as well as up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. To prevent emails from being classified as spam, credit unions need to ensure the accuracy of email addresses and prevent a high bounce rate and ensure a positive reputation with ISPs.
There are several processes that can be put in place to help credit unions reduce email bounce rate and clean addresses.
Remove emails that bounce from future mailings. There is no need to send an email to the same bad address over and over again. Removing known invalid emails from a list will reduce the bounce rate. Additionally, credit unions can then identify which members are not receiving communications, allowing them to send offers through alternate channels until they can correct that members email address.
Educate staff. Communicate to staff members that it is important for them to collect accurate email addresses. If staff members understand where information is used and how inaccurate data affects the credit union, they may be more careful when collecting data in the future. Most email errors occur simply out of human error during data entry, not malicious intent.
Utilize software tools. Most bounced emails are the result of syntax errors. This can be a misspelling or placing the @ symbol in the wrong place. Software tools can be used to identify and correct invalid characters and change incorrectly-typed domain names. These cleans can be done on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on email volume.
Use third-party appends. Just like other pieces of contact information, email information is dynamic and changes frequently. Third-party information can be utilized to append new email addresses to customer files and provide updated email addresses for those that may have changed. These tools allow credit unions to append missing information but also to update data that is no longer useful. This allows credit unions to reach a larger percentage of their members via email.
Any of these tools can have a dramatic impact on the usable email addresses available in a database. These steps are relatively simple to implement and can give credit unions more accuracy when communicating through this growing channel.
By cleaning email addresses, credit unions will ensure that all communications reach the intended member but also that messages are receiving correct, desirable placement within that member’s email inbox. Ultimately, email communications will allow credit unions to communicate with members in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
Thomas Schutz is senior vice president at Experian QAS. Contact 617-385-6700 or thomas.schutz@ qas.com