Do you like responding to emails? I’m sure some of you do with genuine pleasure. The rest consider it a chore. Encouraging responses to your marketing emails is a key factor in successful communication.
Still, a lot of marketers prefer a monologue and shy away from their subscribers’ questions and opinions.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s very easy to prevent subscribers from contacting you – simply omit the „Reply-To:” address, and use „noreply@domain” in the “From:” field. If you’re signed up to several mailing lists, you will surely recognize this common practice.
Luckily, there are ways to dialogue with subscribers and not be overwhelmed with thousands of auto replies and „out of office” notifications.
There are many reasons why subscribers may want to reply to your newsletters. The most important are:
- Change of email address: If you don’t include a link to a site where subscribers can update their address, replying to your newsletter is the only option;
- Unsubscribing: Some subscribers may not notice the unsubscribe link and will demand that you remove their addresses from your list by contacting you directly. If you make this impossible, you risk losing your reputation while your messages may get marked as spam;
- Detailed enquiries: Requests for more information may be related to anything from a question about a new book, to the availability of a given trouser from the latest collection, to making a reservation in your restaurant. Your subscribers may have doubts or simply need to learn more about the details of your offer. If you don’t respond, you discourage possible conversions;
- Sender verification: Some spam filters such as SpamArrest require an additional step from the sender in order for the message to be delivered – you have to click on a link in an email confirming the delivery attempt. None of your subscribers who use such solutions will receive mail from you unless you do that.
Taking all this into account, it’s a must for every newsletter to have an active and monitored email address where subscribers can get further help or information.
The basic fields of an email message
Even the simplest email marketing tool should give you the opportunity to customize the following fields:
- Sender – “From:” field
- Addressee (a professional platform will replace this with the choice of a mailing list)
We’ve already talked about how specifying an effective and recognizable “From:” field determines open rates. It’s all about avoiding vague terms, such as e.g. “newsletter” or “information” or, even worse, “no-reply”:
Don’t forget about using an active email address in the “From:” field, though, one that you check regularly.
The commonly used addresses such as „noreply@domain” or „firstname.lastname@example.org” discourage recipients from further communication or even make it technically impossible.
An exception to the rule may be transactional emails which are considered notifications so there’s usually no need for the subscriber to contact the sender.
“To:” = “Reply-To:” ?
Technically speaking, the „Reply-To:” field is an alternative for those who don’t want to receive replies from subscribers to the address given in the “From:” field.
After hitting the “Reply” button in your email client, the “Reply-To” address gets priority over the “From:” field address and will be the default address in any further communication.
This way you can use the first address to generate higher open rates, while letting subscribers contact you at another address:
You have to take into account the fact that the address where you direct subscriber replies might be flooded with auto replies and automatic notifications informing you that the recipient is on vacation, at a conference, or no longer employed at that business.
The question is: how to defend yourself from this flood of messages and find the valuable ones among them?
- Set up a filter, which will direct all incoming mail with subject lines starting with „Re:” to a specific folder. This mail is crucial as these are usually not automatically generated notifications;
- Verify manually the rest of your mail or ask an employee to do it for you. Depending on the volume, this shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Is it worth it?
The only way to see how many valuable subscriber emails fall on deaf ears is to set up a “Reply-To” address in your email marketing platform, or monitor an active, working sender email address.
If you think this whole problem is really trivial, and that the emails subscribers send to the „noreply” address are insignificant, let me recommend to you the story of the owner of donotreply.com. The real-life examples show just how much relevant information never reaches email marketers.
Are you using the „Reply-To:” field effectively and have gained some measurable profits? Or are you using „noreply” / „donotreply” addresses but have a completely different opinion?
As always, I look forward to your comments and email marketing experiences!
P.S. For obvious reasons I have omitted the popular question of adding an annotation like this to your mailings: “This message has been generated automatically. Do not reply to it, as your email won’t reach our system.” If you really want to engage your subscribers in communication, using statements like this is simply shooting yourself in the foot.
Maciej is an Email Solutions Expert for GetResponse, focused on optimizing email deliverability, improving conversion rates, and increasing email marketing ROI for our customers.