Warning: You may be ruining your hottest leads

This post has to do with a single question: If a client replies to your DONOTREPLY address, do you still make the sale?

E-mail marketing is a powerful way to build and maintain relationships with your clients over the long term. All too often, though, even savvy businesspeople forget that a real relationship goes both ways.

It is true that you can help your clients remain aware of your presence by consistently sending them high-quality information. It is also true that you can increase their feeling of trust toward your business by allowing them glimpses into the real people behind the business.  But if the client doesn’t feel that the channel of communication goes both ways, then you’re missing out on the most powerful part of the relationship.

How can you open up this two-way channel of communication? Would you believe the answer is as simple as using a real working e-mail address in the “from” header for your mailings?

Too many companies are using addresses like “DONOTREPLY@mydomain.com” as their reply-to address in mass mailings. Even worse, some are using mail accounts that look legitimate but either don’t work or aren’t getting checked regularly.

When you do this, one of two things can happen when a recipient of your newsletter wants to contact you: they either notice that they can’t simply respond to e-mail, or they don’t.

If they do notice, then maybe half the time they’ll go to the trouble of pulling up your web page and finding your contact for, or scanning through the message you sent them and copying and pasting the address into a new e-mail. Of course, the other half of the time they won’t, and so you will have missed out on a truly exquisite opportunity–a client-initiated contact. And from someone who already likes you enough to subscribe to your mailing list!

But the real tragedy is in the second situation, when the client doesn’t notice that they can’t reply to your e-mail. If you’re lucky, they’ll notice when their message to you bounces and become annoyed with you for making it tough to write you back. Then we’re back to situation #1, where they have to decide whether it’s worth the hassle to dig around for your contact information.

If they don’t notice that their message to you bounced, then they’ll be expecting a reply from you. A reply which, of course, they are never going to receive. They trusted you enough to subscribe to your mailing list, and they were interested enough to send you an e-mail, but how do you suppose they’ll feel about you after a week with no response? After two weeks? Credibility is difficult to gain and much too easy to lose.

The good news is that our email marketing software lets you set up your e-mails with any “from” and “reply-to” e-mail address you like, so all you have to do is use one that works. If you’re worried about getting too many replies (a good problem to have!), you can set up a special account just for replies to your newsletters. Just make sure that you are checking the account for new messages frequently–after all, these are double-qualified leads that have chosen to contact you for more information. And provided that you have set up automatic handling of bounced messages, you won’t have to worry about your mailbox getting flooded with bounces or automated replies, either.

The more you open up the lines of communication to you and your business, the more readily you’ll be able to build real and lasting relationships with your market.

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  • http://www.elharo.com/blog/ Elliotte Rusty Harold

    Very good advice, which makes me wonder how you missed other basic things like signing your full name to the post so it can be quoted with attribution or including a real, working e-mail address in a mailto link on the page so folks can contact you.

    • http://www.activecampaign.com Jason

      That is a good point – while that is a whole topic by itself it is an area we could update.

  • http://3donthewebcheap.blogspot.com len bullard

    I am flabbergasted by business contacts who insist on using their avatar names in email.

    If you don’t sign it with a real name, I assume your business is just as unreal.

    • http://www.activecampaign.com Jason

      Yes – often I see small businesses use this technique and try to get rid of the “personal” touch/experience when in fact that is one of their strong points of being a small business.

  • http://www.chelstonhotelblackpool.co.uk Allun Edwards

    How often do you sent out mass emails – is once a month too much – Allun

  • Pingback: How to use email campaigns to incite wild commitment | ActiveCampaign, Inc.

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