Hey asshole, what if I want to reply? It astounds me that in 2011, startups and companies are sending out automated emails with
noreply email addresses. It basically says to the recipient:
“I’m not interested in hearing from you by email, regardless of whether email is better or easier for you. I just don’t respect you enough to take the risk that a dozen people might reply and insult me.”
What if I feel compelled to write you a message saying how much I liked your email? What if I want to give you criticism about your service?
What if I don’t want to go find your twitter account so that I can @reply you, on the off-chance that you might see it, and might actually give a crap?
This is how you look when you use ‘noreply’
Once upon a time I followed a link on Forrst to go sign up for a beta launch of a new service. To be fair, I wasn’t really very interested in it, but I wanted to show support and at least might have been pleasantly surprised.
Here’s what I received, after confirming my email address:
To put it into perspective, this isn’t a service that’s going to have people selling their mums just to get an invite.
For something like this, early feedback will mean the difference between hit and/or miss.
(Sorry to single you out, Paul – if you’re reading this, please understand it’s nothing personal)
So I’ve given you my email address. I’ve given you the permission to contact me directly, via the medium I check more than anything (nasty habit, I know.) And this is how you repay me?
Who knows whether anybody would actually take the time to reply to your email, and who knows whether they’d even say anything useful?
Certainly not you, since you didn’t even give them the chance. By using
noreply, you effectively closed a channel of communication between you and your user in the place where they’re most able to speak their mind (in a private exchange of emails), and insulted their intelligence to boot.
It’s not even just the little guys who are making this mistake – big players in the startup space are playing fast and loose with their users’ respect, too:
This is probably where it starts – hundreds of thousands of people see this email and think:
“Hey, if I use a ‘noreply’ email address, maybe people will think my service is bigger than it really is! I’ll sound clever and popular!”
Simple. Just use a friendly address as the
sent-from field, like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or even go the Frasier route, with email@example.com.
What’s that? You don’t want crazies emailing you? You’re worried about spam?
Maybe it’s time to quit the internet business and go open a second-hand shop. Or, you know, get a spam filter, set email-reply-times, and suck it up in the name of better customer service and open communication.
If you’re doing this, please stop. It’s not big or clever!
An even more bizarre example
That’s probably about enough for today (comment below if you love it or hate it.)
Just to finish up though, this one is perhaps even weirder.
Why would you use
noreply@ as the reply-to email address, then put your personal email address in the body of the email? That’s just mixed messages, guy.
# Some people have pointed out (fairly) that by not using
noreply, you open yourself up to autoresponders and delivery failure notices. My response to that would be to go with an email address like
friendlyrobot, which, when somebody replies to it, replies with a friendly helpful message explaining that nobody checks this address, and offering other addresses to contact. I believe this is what Wufoo does, and they rock.
## On HackerNews, twakefield made a great point that captures the essence of this issue: “EVERY email you send should be considered an opportunity to increase engagement with your users [...] Email should be considered another interface into your application.”
### Another HN user, evanhamilton, suggests that I amend the call-to-action of this post: “So rather than just open up your inbox to thousands of junk messages and customer inquiries that you lose in the shuffle, I’d amend your call to action: Get rid of the no-reply. Set a reply-to that goes into your support ticket system (you have one, right?). Set up rules/filters to automatically get rid of the auto-cruft and route responses to different mailings to the right place.” I can dig it.
#### Ros from CampaignMonitor expands on the message of this post in her follow-up on the CampaignMonitor blog. She goes further, indicating that an increase in replies may actually positively impact the value/importance GMail places on your messages:
‘In a recent post on the algorithm behind [the] Priority Inbox feature, [MarketingSherpa] linked to a research paper by Google, which amidst dense clusters of math, features this lucid statement: “Importance ground truth is based on how the user interacts with a mail after delivery.” [...] Or in human terms: If recipients reply to your emails, then Gmail is more likely to consider them to be important.‘