If you take a look at your inbox right now, we’re willing to bet at least a couple of the latest emails you received came from do-not-reply email addresses.
No-reply email addresses are everywhere. Businesses, from small to big, use them to send all kinds of messages, and, in many cases, they go about it all wrong.
We’ve talked a lot about how we feel about do-not-reply email addresses in the past. However, there’s a time and a place for everything, and, if you’re an email marketer, there are only a couple of occasions where it makes sense to use a do-not-reply address.
Read on to discover what those are. But, first, a discussion on no-reply email addresses, in general, and why they’re such a controversial topic.
What are do-not-reply email addresses?
Every email you get comes from somewhere. However, a lot of automated emails use what we call do-not-reply email addresses, like this one.
As the name implies, if you try to reply to one of these addresses, you’ll either get a failure-to-deliver notification or your message will go unanswered.
That’s because do-not-reply email addresses don’t get monitored. Businesses use them to send out emails that they think don’t require any type of interaction, so they don’t get flooded with unnecessary replies.
It makes a lot of sense, from a business perspective. The average worker spends up to 2.6 hours, every single day, going over emails. Anything that can take that number down is bound to increase productivity massively.
However, there’s a reason—if not several—why no-reply email addresses are such a controversial topic among marketers.
Why you should (mostly) avoid using do-not-reply email addresses
A quick Google search for “do-not-reply email addresses” will show you there’s a pretty clear consensus when it comes to the topic: They may be practical, but they’re not a good business practice.
The argument against do-not-reply email addresses boils down to three key points:
1. They’re not customer-friendly. It’s pretty easy to spot do-not-reply emails. However, you need to understand a lot of your customers are probably not as tech-savvy. They might miss out on the signs, reply to these emails, and then wonder why they’re not getting a response from you.
2. You miss out on essential client feedback. Feedback is key to any company’s growth, and email is one of the easiest ways to communicate with your clients. If you cut off that channel entirely, you’re missing out on a lot of important conversations.
One great example of a situation where a lot of businesses use do-not-reply addresses when they shouldn’t is during purchase confirmation emails.
Source: Humble Bundle
At first glance, the practice makes sense: You buy something online and you get a quick confirmation email that doesn’t require a response. It should be the perfect scenario for using a do-not-reply address.
But what if one of your clients has a problem with their order?
Ideally, customers will reach out to you via your official support channels. However, as we mentioned earlier, not all your clients may be that tech-savvy. If they get an email about their purchase and they have a question, they’ll probably use that channel to try and get a response.
In that scenario, you don’t come off well to that customer, which means they’re less likely to make future purchases or recommend you.
Overall, there are very few scenarios where it makes sense to use do-not-reply emails, so let’s talk about what those are.
When to use a do-not-reply email address in marketing
1. Opt-in confirmation messages
Opt-in confirmation messages are the perfect scenario for using do-not-reply email addresses.
Most of your subscribers probably sign up for a lot of newsletters and email lists. That means they know the drill: Every time they sign up for a new list or service, they’ll get a confirmation email like this one.
There’s absolutely nothing about that email that invites a response.
At worst, some of your clients will change their minds at the last minute—in which case, all they have to do is not confirm their subscription. It’s that easy.
However, just because signup confirmation emails don’t require a response, it doesn’t mean they should be boring.
You still want to make sure that customers open those messages, even if they come from a do-not-reply address.
Your emails may be automated, but you still want your customers to feel like you’re messaging them directly. Even a little bit of personalization goes a long way when it comes to email open rates and engagement.
2. Account update notifications
If you run the type of business where customers can make a purchase from your website, then chances are you require them to sign up for an account. That means they have to share personal and contact information with you, such as their email address.
We already talked about opt-in confirmation messages, but what happens if one of your customers decides to change their email?
Ideally, you’ll send them an automated confirmation message to the former address, just in case there’s something fishy going on. That’s a perfect opportunity to use a do-not-reply email address.
These types of messages don’t require any interaction beyond confirming the changes your customers make.
In case of a security breach, most of these emails include a link your clients can use to let you know they didn’t initiate the changes to their account.
Even so, if you’re going to use a do-not-reply address, you should always make sure you include a brief disclaimer at the bottom of the message, so customers know you’re not monitoring their responses.
How to ensure you don’t miss any emails (without using a do-not-reply email address)
We can all agree that using do-not-reply addresses isn’t a smart business move, in most cases. However, that leaves you with a problem on your hands: How can you prevent your business email from getting flooded?
The answer is this: You can’t.
The larger your business grows, the more customer queries you’ll have to deal with. If you’re an online business, that means you’ll be getting messages 24 hours a day, 365 days out of the year.
Fortunately, there are a lot of smart ways you can deal with a flooded inbox. Your best allies, in most cases, will be labels, filters, and automatic responses.
If you’re not using labels and filters yet, you need to catch up on the times. Modern email clients enable you to filter any emails you get according to specific criteria.
For example, you can set up filters to assign high-priority labels for email addresses from important senders, so they don’t go overlooked.
Beyond that, you can set up automatic responses if you want customers to know it may take you a day or two to get back to them. That way, they won’t panic and send even more emails your way.
Depending on the size of your business, it might even pay off to hire someone to monitor and reply to emails full time. It’s an essential customer communications channel, so it makes sense for you to put a professional in charge of it.
Ask 10 email marketers what they think about do-not-reply email addresses and we bet they’ll all say the same thing:
“Only use them in very, very specific cases.”
Two such scenarios include:
- Opt-in confirmation messages
- Account update notifications
Those are two types of messages that are fully automated and, in most cases, don’t require any further action from you. Beyond that, if there’s even a slight chance that customers might want to reply to one of your messages, then use a live email address.
Campaign Monitor represents best-of-breed email marketing software that gives you with the tools you need to create engaging emails that generate high reader response.