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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
Occasionally we get technical inquiry emails about our product from people who misspell their email address on our contact form and we are unable to get back to them.
One thing we could try to do is to contact their company through the means listed on their website, explain the situation and ask for the correct email address of the person. For small companies this would probably work.
What do you think about this? Could it be considered a violation of privacy by some oversensitive persons and make more harm than good?
P.S. We are not a sex-shop, we sell software development tools. :-)
This might sound old-fashioned, but pick up the phone, call the company and ask to be put through to the person by name.
A lot of companies have telephonists who screen, so if you ask for "the IT manager" or "the CEO" you'll never get anywhere, but if you ask for a person by name, they'll assume your okay and do their best to help you.
Friday, February 22, 2013
A lot of companies have privacy policies in place, and won't give out or confirm employee details. It's a bit much to ask for someone's email address direct. Just tell them to pass on a message to the employee that they need to contact you ASAP as their supplied email address was invalid.
I agree with Scorpio in principle, you should be able to simply pick up the phone and open an honest dialogue with the prospect.
In practice however it will also depend on the client and their internal privacy policies. Example: I freelance in Investment Banks and never take calls from the switchboard (or outside). In ten years it's only ever been salespeople (sorry) or scalpers phishing.
Have you tried Googling the person for their email or found another email for someone from that company (for the address semantics). Or as Harry mentioned, do they have a general enquiries email address you could try?
All the best
You may not always have luck, but I think it is perfectly reasonable to try. Also, if you can get to the company's web site and have the person's name, you might have enough information to make reasonable guesses about the person's correct email address.
If you don't ask for the prospect's name and this is happening often enough, consider adding that to the contact form.
Send email to all three, and see what bounces. Maybe all three will bounce, but it is worth a shot. In the very worst case, you end up emailing the wrong person.
Friday, February 22, 2013
On very rare occasions a customer email bounces or has some odd problem and I go off looking for alternate contact information. Sometimes it's another email, but that's often an old or expired one. Sometimes it's a phone number and I'll call.
I wouldn't use this technique to correct spam or even opt-in email lists (although we don't spam). I've only used it when the customer actually contacts me and I can't get back to him. That only happens once a year or less.
"Occasionally we get technical inquiry emails about our product from people who misspell their email address on our contact form and we are unable to get back to them"
Most contact forms these days make the sender type their email address twice, to prevent this occurring. Does yours?
No. The form stuff doesn't even require email at all - requiring email is bad usability. Requiring it twice is double bad usability - people will just paste in that case, so it just wastes time. If they do contact via form using their web account, they get a PM back that they can check.
The problematic ones typically happen when the email is sent via normal email, and the return bounces.
To reiterate, it's not very typical though, less than once a year. I'd have to dig through records to say the last time I bothered. Probably 2008 or something.
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