Empty MailboxSaw this post from the blog “All Spammed Up” providing tips on how to keep your email marketing out of the spam folder and in the inbox.

There are some good ideas in the post on how to keep your email campaigns clean and on target. Here’s an additional observation I think many marketers may be facing in their email campaigns that’s keeping them from reaching the inbox.

One of the techniques used by some email providers like Google is to route all incorrectly addressed incoming email to a “black hole” account or a catch all email account. This account is usually the administrator, but it is selectable and can be anything the administrator wants.

Our team makes use of these types of accounts in our various projects all the time and we clean out the refuse once a month or so. They catch everything and a general purge spares nothing.

It’s a way to prevent spammers from analyzing information about our email services from bounced messages.

This can mean bad news for you if you’re marketing to a company using this technique.

Let’s say you are a sales rep or a marketer trying to break into Acme Rail Rockets. You have a single point of contact in the company, Bob Binky, and you consider yourself lucky because he was kind enough to provide his email address. So you start your marketing campaign, sending Bob five well-crafted marketing emails interspersed with three sales emails to his email address, “bob.binky@acme-dot-com. What happens if Bob leaves the company between email four and email five?

Well, unless Bob is kind enough to update every marketer and sales rep that has sent him a prospecting letter, the system won’t notify you that Bob has “left the building”. After they close out Bob’s account, the system will route all of your emails to the catch all email account, scheduled for mass deletion and all you will see is an unresponsive Bob.

For sales reps, this means that probing for live email addresses, making assumptions about the way a company structures its email accounts, or honest mistyped email addresses could land your carefully crafted sales letter in the land of mass delete.

And for marketers, this means that all of those addresses on your list that have been unresponsive for the past 6 months could be flowing over into the company’s catch all email account and erased in bulk or, even worse, marked as spam.

Over the past 6 months, we’ve had several people move on to new opportunities. After the sales manager reviews the contacts for customers and vendors, we schedule the account for closure. I review the catch all account about once a month, but there is no way I can read all of those emails to weed out an address typo from an interesting marketing piece. Bulk erasure is typically what happens.

If you want to avoid having your email land in the catch all email account, here are some things to try:

  1. Clean your list. Run your re-engagement campaigns to determine who is real and who is real gone. Remove the email addresses that aren’t responding back and engage those that do respond.
  2. Check your typing. For our incoming email, we find a few messages addressed to people that work for our company but the sender mistyped the email address, either by accident or on purpose. Since it can’t find a real user, the system routes their message to the catch all account where no one will see it. And no marketer wants his or her specially crafted message to go unseen.
  3. Don’t spam. Some sales reps and marketers will attempt to reach a target contact by trying multiple variations of a contact’s name. They look for the bounced message to let them know if they have a hit or if they have to try the next variation. That strategy doesn’t work if every variation they use is routed to the catch all email account. Your list may have Bob’s email as b.binky@acme-dot-com simply because your first message “went through”. In reality, your message is quarantined and you aren’t reaching Bob at all.

If you want to create a viable email list, put valued content on your site, keep your audience engaged, and clean out the unresponsive members as often as possible.