Monday, October 10, 2016

"FROM" ADDRESSES - Anatomy of an Email Inbox - SOUR eMail Oct 10, 2016

Week two of SOUR email and it's more fun than ever.  I'm traveling this week to connect with some of my girlfriends for a weekend in the mountains of Chattanooga, TN, so I thought I would focus today on some of the travel emails I receive and talk about how to best use the "From" address in your emails.  It seems like it should be a basic and simple thing to consider and do well and is also regulated by CAN-SPAM laws.  What can and should you do to leverage this important element of your email and one that pretty much everyone looks at in determining if they will ignore it, take action or something in between?

The CAN-SPAM act specifically requires that you must accurately identify the person or business who initiated the message.  The specific language is:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
But if you look at the elements of "from" lines that your recipients see, there are several parts to the From line that can be leveraged to your benefit and to help your list members clearly understand who you are and perhaps why you are sending this email.

You can use these elements to clearly articulate who you are and to make your from line more personal, relevant and beneficial to the receiving party.  The ESPs typically allow you to customize these elements of your email.

So let's look at some to see where we have some SOUR eMail and who is doing well.

First from above, while the "from" name certainly does tell us it is from "Secret Escapes," is it relevant to the receiving party that it is "US?"  Do I care that it came from the US part of Secret Escapes and will it make me behave differently by having that there?  I venture to say "no."

The actual email of the sender is also not helpful.  Do I want to see an email from "support?"  Maybe, if this is a support email.  Does "support" mean something in the email is about helping me with my order or trip?  Given the subject of this email was "Sun or City" I don't know why receiving it from "support" is helpful or provides me with any insight as to what "support" I might get from the content of this email. Is it necessary to include "email." after the "@?"  I know I am reading email, so it doesn't really tell me anything I don't already know.  SOUR eMail.  We can do better.

Several of the emails I looked at had these same type of issues with the email address including superfluous words that really didn't help clarify or improve the address or provide anything of value to the reader.  Things like:


That really doesn't make me feel that these companies care about me.  I am simply part of their "list" or "listserv" from their "postmaster" or even worse "tvtgmail."  While I am sure these terms had some logic to the programmer or whomever was setting up these emails, I think we could do better.  SOUR eMail.

There is also opportunity in these terms to provide some meaning to the message and use this most important content to connect or tell our readers something.  Some of my travel sites did try to get a bit better than the above with things like:


So at least the words made sense.  However given the "from" line before the actual email address had these same terms "Hillton Honors," they missed the opportunity to tell me more and simply repeated the same words in total three times in this space.  The actual full line looked like this:

"Hilton HHonors <>"

NOTE:  Not really sure why they needed the "H" honors, but again, it must have meant something to someone in the creation process, although probably not the recipient. 

Here's an interesting way that Hotwire used the "from" to say more even though they were still repetitive between the "from title" and the from within the email address:

"Hotwire Recommended Deals <>"

They met the requirements of CAN-SPAM by telling people who they were, but they took the opportunity in the from line to reinforce the overall message of the email and tie the from to the subject line which was "3-start Chicago hotel from $90, Ft. Lauderdale rental cars from $23 plus more."

I also liked a few others who used the email address to help clarify the message intent:

"Airbnb <"
"TripAdvisor <"
"Lake Leelenau RV Park <"

Only one in my inbox this weekend however really made it personal by having the email address be from a real person:

"Steppes Travel <>"

Who would you rather receive an email from, "Justin" or "list?"

"From" Addresses

Today's Sample: 12 emails
Overall Grade: C
Top Performer:  Steppes Travel - Grade A and Hotwire - Grade B

I decided because of the elements within these two they were both worthy of recognition - Steppes for using a real email address and Hotwire for creatively using the "from" to extend their subject line content.

Today's Tips to Improve Your Inbox Anatomy and not be a SOUR eMailer:

-  Don't include superfluous words and sub-elements within the email address - be specific and only include your root domain if possible
-  Make it personal - send the email from a real person, not a box or technical term; if you aren't making it from a person, at least use the email address to tell them something as Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Lake Leelenau RV park did
-  Leverage the "from" line to extend your subject line.  This is a really creative way to get more for your money
-  Don't make the "from" line too long and don't abbreviate unless it is a high recognition brand abbreviation

Use these "from" line tips to make sure you meet CAN-SPAM requirements and to connect to your recipients and obtain more interest and action!

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