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July 16, 2014

I don't know where you are...but I know where you AREN'T.


by Ron Daly

I don't have spy satellites. I don't have access to your GPS. I'm not the NSA, nor am I Google, nor am I any other intelligence gathering agency, public or private.

I don't know where you are...but I know where you aren't.

The other day, an email campaign was sent from our marketing team to a group of subscribers in my name. Naturally, I got all of the "out of office" replies. In came a flood of three hundred emails from people who were anywhere but near their computer.

As I sat there, my eyes spinning from all the out-of-offices, I wondered how much I could learn from all the information contained therein. Naturally, I know these people aren't in the office (or don't know how to turn off their automatic reply). But what else can I learn?

  • I can learn when these out-of-officers are supposed to be back in the office, in most cases. (Ex: "I will be out until July 18, 2014.")

  • I can learn who their nearest counterpart is. ("If you need anything in the meantime, please contact Trish Fisherwisher, at tfisherwisher@example.email.")

  • If I take a step back and look at the frequency of OOO replies for a weekly email, I can get an idea of when the average credit union employee is on vacation.

  • I know the addresses I have are active and working.

Those are three interesting pieces of information in my line of work. The campaign we sent wasn't time or info sensitive, but let's say I want to be sure that everyone gets a look at it. I know these addresses are good, I know when these people will be back in the office and I know who else to reach out to if it is something time-sensitive. All I really need to do is take a few minutes, mark the recipients in the list that are out of office and get back to them in a few weeks when they're back at work. Why not take this limited-but-useful data and do something with it?

I look forward to your opinions on this...in a few weeks, when you get back from the beach.


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