So you can imagine my shock each and every time I look at an email that does not come from a branded domain. I recently got a call from a friend on a number not stored in my phone. Because of the background noise, I could not recognize his voice and he just started talking. The first part of the conversation ended up being a mess. He kept talking and I wasn’t really listening trying to figure out who it was. By the time I got a chance to ask, I had no idea what he had been saying so he had to repeat it. If this had been a sales call, I would have just hung up. To put this into the context of your email, the further away from your brand your email gets, the more likely it is to be ignored by your customers.
It is not just your readers that you need to worry about however. Your first concern is their email provider. The email application providers and ISPs face a monumental challenge in dealing with the continuing influx of Spam. The vast majority of email that they process is spam. I have seen numbers as high as 90 to 95% of all inbound email is spam. With literally billions of emails flying around the internet every day, you can quickly start to appreciate their challenge in identifying the emails you really want (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) and the ones you have asked for (opt-in email marketing) and separating these from the incredibly huge numbers that you don’t want.
Sri Somanchi of Google stated during a panel discussion at the Email Evolution Conference in February that they look at over one thousand different attributes to decide if an email gets into the recipients inbox or not. Of course he was less candid about how this actually works but in my non-technical brain I can imagine a very complex decision tree where the first node looks to see if this is a bulk commercial email versus an email from your mum. Each of these decision nodes and their placement are designed to eliminate as many unwanted messages as possible thereby reducing the processing requirement at each node.
I honestly do not know if there is a node which looks at the ‘From Address’. If there is, and it does not match your domain name and registration details then you are going to be on your way to the junk folder. On the other hand, there may be no ‘From Address’ node – we all know how easy it is to change the ‘From Name’, so while this may fool some recipients it will not fool their gate keepers.
Also on that panel were Paul Rock of AOL, Matthew Moleski of Comcast and John Scarrow of Microsoft and they all agreed that they are increasingly looking at reputation by domain as well as IP address. By using a shared IP address or a domain which you do not own, you run a much greater risk of being branded as a delivery risk all because of the actions of some other company.
At this point you may be thinking that you have nothing to worry about because you send your emails from an internal system of an ISP that allows you to use your main corporate domain and you are right to a degree. Obviously there is nothing as well suited for your brand as your main domain but this approach is not without risk. First, this is the domain that your boss and their boss and so on all the way to the CEO use to send their corporate email. Who do you think will get the heat if their emails stop getting delivered because you have accidentally killed the reputation on the corporate domain? Also you cannot have a domain pointing to more than one place, so if you are using it to send your corporate email then you ISP is spoofing it which is exactly what phishers (the lowest form of spammer) do.
There are two ways to get your branding into your ‘From Address’. The first is by setting up a sub domain on your main domain such as mail.dotmailer.com. This has the benefit of inheriting all of your domain’s registration details so when a receiver does a reverse DNS lookup on the domains in your email and the domains where the links resolve, they match. This will however require you to reach out to your IT department and coordinate with your ESP to make sure they have the necessary authentications to send emails on your behalf.
The second way to do this is to buy a domain that closely matches your branding such as dotmailernews.com, which overcomes the need to coordinate your ESP and your IT department but should still be managed by them to ensure the registration details match those of your corporate domain.
In short, the ‘From Address’ of your email campaign is the sends address displayed in your recipient’s inbox. It’s potentially the first interaction with a potential customer. It’s essential to get your message into the inbox. There are 3 simple reasons why you should be using a custom ‘From Address’ as follows:
- Get better delivery rates
- Engage your recipients for better open rates
- Protect your company domain name and your transactional emails