Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do I know you? Why the 'from' field counts

Does your inbox groan under the weight of email, both wanted and unwanted?

For most people, it's a split-second decision whether to open an email or not. If your recipents are using a preview pane, they can see a small section of the email. Otherwise, they only have two pieces of information to go on. The subject line, and who it's from. I've talked about subject lines in a previous eTip, and there'll be an update on that very soon. But what about the 'from' field?

According to research by Return Path*, 'knowing and trusting the sender' is still the number one factor influencing opens. Overall, people are opening less - so becoming a 'trusted sender' is more important than ever. It doesn't happen overnight, but here are a few simple things you can do for starters:

- Make the 'from' field a recognisable name, and keep it consistent. The most obvious choice is your company name, or a version of it that people are familiar with. For some businesses, having the email appear to come from a named person may be appropriate, for example Boden's newsletters come from 'Johnny Boden'. Or you could use the actual email address, such as ''.

- Monitor the return address. There's nothing more discouraging than hitting 'reply' only to get zero response. It amazes me how many companies forget that email is essentially a two-way communication medium. It's like calling someone on the phone, talking for five minutes, then hanging up without giving them a chance to say anything. Plain rude!

- Ask recipients to add your 'from' address to their address book or contacts. It gets you special treatment in some email clients and will help make sure your emails arrive in the inbox rather than the junk folder.

*January 2007, Return Path Third Annual Holiday Email Consumer Survey

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