Don't Ignore the Bouncebacks!
If you are using your own database, bouncebacks may not even be looked at. Since the cost of an undeliverable e-mail adds nothing to the cost of the e-mail program, administrators of the database may not even take the time to clean the name off of the list.
I see bouncebacks as an opportunity to gather some excellent intelligence, especially if you are targeting very specific prospects with your programs. Here are some ways to leverage the opportunities that bouncebacks present:
Call the company to see if this person is still part of the company and who has taken over their position in the company. See if you can connect with the new individual and ask them if they would like to stay informed as well. In addition to a new name, you may be able to gather a little intelligence about what is happening within the company.
If you can’t get decent intel by calling, OneSource and Hoovers are good sources of information about new company hires at the executive level. However, for those of you with more modest marketing budgets, I’d suggest LinkedIn.
If the company has a profile on LinkedIn, it will show you new hires – as long as those individuals are on LinkedIn and have updated their profile. Here's a snapshot from a page on SAP's LinkedIn profile showing new hires and recent promotions and changes.
Note that if you "click more" when you are on the profile, you can see more that just the top 5. LinkedIn is useful if you aren’t always selling at the executive level as new hires in middle management are far more likely to show up than in OneSource or Hoovers.
You can also look up your former contact on LinkedIn to see where they are now. If they are with a new company, reach out and ask them if they would like to continue to receive information. Sending an email through LinkedIn is a good way to do it because most people don’t get many LinkedIn emails and yours stands a better chance of standing out. (This is far different from spamming people through LinkedIn. I am absolutely against using LinkedIn as a permanent alternative to regular email unless your contact is a close associate.)
If they are unlucky enough to be caught in one of the all-too-frequent lay-offs, and your comfortable doing this, reach out to them and invite them to connect. Let them know you’d be happy to provide an introduction to other contacts if they are interested. Remember, they are probably going through uncertain times so this is about them and not about you. Keep your emails focused on what’s top of mind for them. In my experience, most people who have been recently laid off are happy to network with anyone who shows an interest in helping. It is about them, but you can earn yourself some huge karma points.
Even if the prospect hasn’t updated their profile, you can still reach out through LinkedIn and let them know you received a bounceback. You can ask them if they would like to continue receive information at a new email address and hopefully get a chance to create a stronger connection.
All the best!