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The Email From Line

Email inboxes are a coveted space to be in, but just landing there doesn't ensure eyeballs - only increases the open and CTR potential. As such, marketers think a lot about every facet of emails, including the "from" field.

I've read lots of data that encourages putting a person's name in the from line. For example, instead of an email coming into your inbox "from" Acme Inc., it's "from" "Colin Snow," with other clues that Colin's connection to Acme Inc.

As any person (in marketing or not), I have thousands of unopened and completely ignored emails in my inbox, and over the past few days, I've been mass deleting. As such, I've noticed a number of things about the "from" line in emails - after all, this is how I was making sweeping decisions to save or delete.

If your brand is well-known and well-received and wanted, having your brand name in the from line is the strongest way to get attention. Remember that the "from" is typically presented to a viewer even before the subject line. To see an email from CapitalOne, I will immediately scan the subject line - is my bill due or do you want me to apply for a new car loan? If an email is from the baby clothing company are you having a sale or shipping my item or promoting your newest product? However, if I'm less familiar with your company, then having your company name in the from line means I immediately think, "Don't know you. You want my money. I don't have time for that right now." I also see hybrids of these two approaches. Hootsuite often, but not always, sends emails from "Colin at Hootsuite." Now, sometimes the from just says "Hootsuite," and I noticed that the actual email address is the same. I am on a mailing list for a very well known global non-profit, and they never include their non-profit name in their from email address. It's a miss. I never open emails from these people I've never met or heard of and hence I only donate when it occurs to me outside of an email prompt.

Something else I noticed were the number of email address variations from the same organization. One company would send me an email with (where "____" was the company name) as well as emails from and I expect these companies look at open rates and different internal groups are responsible for different emails, hence the different email variations. I couldn't always easily figure out what the company's distinctions were. Three emails on offers that promised to save me money all with slightly different email domains. Selfishly, this made it hard on me to search for all emails from a company and be sure that I had deleted them all. I wonder how they manage all those email domains, and if they are doing it effectively.

My final observation was the number of times an organization did not mention their name in the body of their email. I would run a search through my emails for "Acme Bank Corp." and come up with no results, because the emails were from and in the email they included an image of their logo, but never the three distinct words "Acme Bank Corp." As a result, I could not easily search for the company. Seems so obvious, but when your marketing copyrighter writes email after email, you see your words and you know your brand / company so well you overlook the obvious - your name. You forget that you really do need to include the full company name in the text of every single email.

Lots of words and thoughts on the from field in emails, yet this little field makes a huge difference. And what companies really should be doing is A/B testing - not just reading thoughts and advice from others and making unilateral decisions. Your prospects and customers will tell you what works for them.

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