Where do your marketing emails come from?

Emails going straight to the bin

Where do your marketing emails come from? By that I mean what is the “reply-to” email address you’re putting on them? For many companies, the prospect of getting back dozens or hundreds of “out of office” emails has led to them having a policy of setting up a reply-to address which is just a bin. You’ll have seen the sort of thing: “no-reply@…” is the most common example.

I think this is a huge mistake. Some recipients won’t understand how this works. Many more just won’t notice where they’re replying to. And one thing worse than not seeing a prospect’s email is the image which ignoring it creates for your company.

So how do we get around this? It’s a problem which I tackled with this very blog from day one. Of course, at that point I didn’t know I’d be sending out nearly a million emails a year. But that’s the beauty of so many IT strategies: they scale up perfectly.

My strategy was simple: I’d send the emails from my own address, and that’d also be the reply-to address. Then, for the first few days, I built up a list of common phrases which featured in auto-responder emails, and created a set of email filters which diverted these to the bin. Examples included “Automatic reply”, “Acknowledged Mail” and “I am now on leave until”. I discovered I could filter out 99% of auto-responder emails with about a dozen rules. Easy!

Nowadays, despite sending out nearly 4,000 emails every day, getting “out of office” replies from them is a very rare thing. When they do slip through, it can be for silly reasons like somebody actually managing to mis-spell “out of office” and my filter not being that clever! My email bin bulges with dozens of auto-responder emails every day, but I never see it.

However, what this system does allow is for any reader to just hit ‘reply’ and contact me, personally. Does it work? Well, some of our favourite clients have been people whose original enquiry to work with us was a ‘reply’ to one of these blog emails. Would they have got in touch otherwise? I expect so. But I wouldn’t want to have run even the slightest risk of missing their message.

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