The Devil’s in the Details: Best Practices For Email From Names and Addresses
When you send bulk marketing email, your email From name (the display name, also known as the email Sender name) tells your recipients who sent them the message. It is just as important as your subject line and can be the determining factor as to whether your email is opened, or ignored.
Here’s how an email from Content Marketing Institute displays in an Outlook client.
The From address, on the other hand, is usually not displayed in most email clients before a message is opened.
Some careful people, however, after opening an email, will take an extra step to verify the legitimacy of the From address. In Outlook, you'd click on the sender's name to open a dialog box that shows the email sending address:
Organizations seeking to make email a safer communication tool have created and implemented popular authentication systems such as DKIM and DMARC, which make it much harder nowadays to spoof email or forge sender addresses.
Your goal is to build trust as a branded email sender, which will encourage the recipients to open your email and engage with the content. However, building trust takes time and, most importantly, relevance and consistency.
Every single message you send is a touchpoint that leaves an impression on your customers and marks how they perceive your brand.
Dos and Dont's of Sender Names
In most situations, you want to use a brand name your recipients can instantly recognize as yours. It’s normally a bad idea to use a person's name, unless that person is your brand, or there is a direct relationship between the person and recipients. If your recipient gets an email from a name they don't recognize, they have absolutely no reason to open that email, unless the subject line is extremely compelling.
If you absolutely think using a person’s name will be your best bet, consider following it with a comma and the company the person is from, or use some other convention to get the company name in there. Here’s how Contently does it:
You may also want to weigh your From name options based on the types of content you send. For example, if a personalized From name is always paired with generic, non-personalized or even transactional content, that one-to-one relationship with your contacts could slowly fade over time.
Always be cautious when you tamper with the From name. If your goal is to make your email feel more personal, start with content this strategy can never go wrong.
Here are a few more things to consider when choosing a From name:
- Keep the name as short as possible while making sure it correctly reflects your brand.
- Use slightly different names to differentiate among subscription categories or types of communication. Here’s how the New York Times differentiates breaking news:
The “Southwest Click’n’Save” sender name is how Southwest Airlines makes an offer:
And it’s always a good idea to have a separate sending name for Support or Account Services.
- Split test From names if you're unsure which name will give you the best results.
- Stick to the names you've chosen to establish and maintain brand consistency.
- Don't use an email address as your name; that's a sign of poor branding, and can look like spam.
With most people getting a deluge of email on a daily basis, email attention spans are shrinking and it is said that the average attention span of humans is down to 8 seconds. This has made the From name more important than ever.
The next time you are about to check your inbox for new messages, think about and pay attention to what might be the more important factor in whether you decide to open or delete a message – is it the subject line or the From name?
Dos and Dont's of From Addresses
Now that your recipients have opened your message, you should reassure them with a credible From address so they know who the From name actually represents.
A common mistake marketers make is using a no-reply address, which is known to decrease response rates and overall deliverability as it suggests the relationship only goes one way. Or it looks like spam, as this one does:
“No reply” also deters recipients from wanting to add your address to their safe sender list or address book for the reason that it seems to be an invalid or unmonitored mailbox. Worse, if the mailbox is indeed invalid, you are losing out on all the valuable information you can find in out-of-office replies to help you clean up your lists.
Another bad mistake some marketers make when sending from an email service provider (ESP) is using a free B2C webmail address such as @gmail.com or @yahoo.com.
Most of the major Internet service providers these days have DMARC policies in place, which enable them to tell all DMARC-compliant receiving servers to quarantine or reject a message that’s sent as their email address through a third party server (e.g. an ESP). As a result, using a free B2C From address will most likely result in irregularly high bounces.
To further perfect your From address for your marketing email:
- Make sure 'your' From address matches 'your' From name.
- Use your main website domain or its subdomain (preferred). If it must be a separate domain, make sure the choice of wording matches the brand to maintain continuity.
- Create different, descriptive From addresses that identify who you are and what you are sending (e.g. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
As unimportant as the From name and From address may seem, they are small, but critical, building blocks for successful marketing and branding. Choosing them wisely, then staying relevant and consistent will pay off by getting more of your emails opened by the right people, and helping to protect your deliverability rates.
If you’d like to learn more about Act-On, sign up for our free live demo and interactive session.