Cool B2B Bounce Recapture Email Program

In the B2C space if a message hard bounces it could be because of a bad address or maybe some ISP blocking.  In the B2B space if a message hard bounces it could be a bad address or a former employee or maybe some corporate firewall or filter blocking.

When I worked for we were in the same building as Pfizer.  We’d email each other all day about credit, and I’m sure they had some emails back-and-forth about Viagra.  I know that our corporate filters blocked anything mentioning Viagra and would guess they felt the same about credit.  The point is, corporate email is filtered based on the needs of the business and edicts from on high.  Unlike an ISP, there isn’t anything that we could have said to Pfizer, or them to us, to allow mail into each other’s Inboxes.

One B2B client I had a while back sold specialized gazillion-dollar electronic test equipment.  

Because of that there were a couple of things that we had to look at, the first of which were channel success metrics.

This organization measured email program success by the amount of seminar attendees and White Paper downloads, knowing that each played an important and measurable role in the sales cycle.

After an individual would register to download a White Paper they would be taken to a download page and sent an email to thank them and reiterate the download link.  I’m simplifying here for time….  For each White Paper download was a series of follow-up emails and surveys regarding the paper to help segment and qualify within the sales cycle.

Another success metric was seminar registrants from emailed event invitations.  This program was even expanded out to where registrants were entered into the data stream as signing or not signing into attendance at the event, and as the event was ending, those in attendance were receiving a Thank You for Attending email recapping the event; and those not in attendance were receiving a “Sorry You Couldn’t Make It” message and a recap of the event tailored to those non-attendees.

So what does this have to do with recapturing B2B bounced emails?  I’m getting there….

Because this B2B sold a very high-end niche product each and every prospect and customer attached to an email address was critical to selling and supporting the company’s products, we couldn’t let one person fall through the cracks. 

To recapture those individuals whose email address had bounced back, we created an internal program that would join the bounce logs with the master data table to create a file that contained the intended recipient’s name, company, phone number (when available), and the descriptive reason that the message bounced back, and then mail those records daily (or weekly) to a designated representative who would then route that information to the appropriate out-bound telesales group.

Of course, those records that were returned as hard bounced addresses would be removed from the email channel and pursued by different means.

So what did it take to do this?

First of all the client had an email tool that would allow us to insert the record data into an email message.  That made things a little easier.

The email tool also provided access to system files like the Bounce Logs, and this particular vendor also allowed for SQL through the UI.  Our SQL statement that pulled bounced records daily read something like:


Where $A$ is the Bounce Log and $B$ is the Master Data table.

While not all ESPs allow for SQL via the GUI, most of the better tools will provide you some sort of access to the Bounce Logs via a “wizard” that will allow you to join or at least reference other data tables.

Even if your email tool doesn’t provide the ability to create this type of automated internal email program, that doesn’t mean that you can’t pull the hard bounced records from your email tool – provided that you’re vendor allows you access to those records – and do the record matching outside of the tool, and then pass those records along to your out-bound sales staff.

In the B2C world it’s a little easier to let go of some bounced records here and there.  In the B2B world that can get expensive.  What could it be worth to your B2B organization to recapture even 10% of the leads whose email addresses were bounced back?

 John A. Caldwell, Red Pill Email