15 Oct Why ‘do not reply’ emails are the exact opposite of what you want
As Marketers, we spend millions of dollars every year trying to engage our customers. Yet, in the rare moments the customer might actually want to talk back, we decide it’s not worth our time to have an inbox to listen to them.
It’s literally the same as telling the customer we don’t care what they have to say. It’s a one-way conversation, and by using this approach, we’re essentially talking at our customers, not to or with them.
With the scale of digital marketing platforms and capabilities available today, how is it possible these types of emails still exist? Just last week we received an email from a promotional company, the body of the email looked pretty personable, however the email came from:
Shocking really, we thought they genuinely cared about our promotional needs. Clearly we were just another contact on their database.
What is a ‘do not reply’ email?
Do not reply email addresses are basically email accounts set up and used by brands who want to contact their customers, but don’t want to receive any incoming messages from them. You’ll be familiar with firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ve probably been annoyed by one of these emails yourself at some point. Responses to these email addresses are either never answered or sent back with a no-delivery notification….so annoying!
These emails are doing more harm than good
They prevent the customer from continuing the conversation
If you’re a regular reader of our content, you’ll recognise the phrase and importance of being able to ‘continue the conversation’. That’s what customer communications are designed to do, after all. You can’t continue the conversation if you’re making it a one-way conversation. The customer may have a product/service query, they may wish to make a purchase, a referral, a complaint that needs resolving quickly. Let them be heard.
They’re likely going straight to the spam/junk inbox instead
Using a do not reply email address increases the chances of your email being marked as spam. Meaning the customer won’t even see it in the first place. Also, many email service providers block ‘do not reply’ email addresses from being added to safe sender lists – which ultimately means all those lovely emails you’ve dedicated blood, sweat and tears to perfecting go straight to the spam folder – never to be seen.
They’re impacting your email delivery rates
How do you know if your customer’s email address still exists if you haven’t allowed for any bounce backs/auto responses? Your KPIs will be all over the place, totally inaccurate – you won’t know if any customers chose to unsubscribe, which segues nicely into our next point.
They’re not compliant
In recent years we’ve seen more regulations implemented, giving our customers more power and choices about the types of communications they receive. Ensure you’re fully up to speed on what’s legal and what’s not. For example, under the Spam Act, every commercial message must contain an ‘unsubscribe’ option that:
- presents unsubscribe instructions clearly
- honours a request to unsubscribe within 5 working days
- does not require the payment of a fee
- does not cost more than the usual amount for using the address (such as a standard text charge)
- is functional for at least 30 days after you sent the message
They’re infuriating your customers
Last, but certainly not least – they are turning customers away. We’re making it difficult for them to reach us. Don’t make it hard for them, just to make your life easier – it should be the other way round.
Remember, customers today want to be recognised. They want and expect personalised experiences. Do not reply emails don’t exactly make them feel special, in fact the opposite is true.
What to do instead
1. Replace your do not reply email address with a genuine email account
This is first and foremost. Create an email account which can be accessed by your entire marketing/sales team. Some brands use an alias for this purpose. Others choose a hello@, info@ style. Here at Customology, our email address is email@example.com – we receive all our website enquiries through this email address and use it for our monthly insights newsletter (which you can subscribe to here by the way) – for both inbound and outbound
Ensure your mailbox is monitored regularly – ideally, daily. You’ll also see a great uplift in your delivery, whilst knowing exactly which of your customers are active and engaged.
2. Set up Auto-responders
For the customers benefit: Send an auto-responder to your customers’ responses giving them an indication of when they can expect to hear from you. You could also include a link to the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section on your website to see if they can access the answer to any problem they may have sooner. Or contact information for urgent issues.
For your benefit: Receiving auto-responder emails such as ‘message delivery failure’ will help you keep your customers’ details up to date. You can delete inactive email addresses which will improve your email delivery rates.
3. Use rules to manage and segment the inbox
For some brands, managing a generic email address will require dedication and a lot of time. Make it easy by using rules to filter different types of communications. There are some great examples on the Australian Communications and Media Authority¹ website, including:
Email: To stop receiving messages from us, simply reply to this email with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line. If you no longer wish to receive these messages, please click the ‘unsubscribe’ button below.
SMS: Reply STOP, Unsub
Just a couple of examples, but the clearer you make the instructions for your customers, the easier your life will be.
If your brand is sending do not reply emails – please stop…..NOW. They are incredibly rude. It’s funny how we invest so much time, effort and money in digital marketing yet we stop it from doing its job. Can we really not be bothered to actually listen to the invaluable, volunteered qualitative data for free? Can we not be available to our customers while it matters and when some may need us most?
With reference to the example we shared at the start of this article – if you’re relying on a marketing platform to manage your communications – maybe send a quick test to yourself to see what your customer is seeing.
Think of the impacts to your brand of your customer communications and start making changes today.
Customology are customer lifecycle management specialists. If you think your customer communications could be working harder for you, one of our Customologists would be happy to help. Contact us at 1300 264 549 or firstname.lastname@example.org (this mailbox is monitored all day).