For many of your subscribers, a 'do not reply' email address is the digital equivalent of slamming the door in their face. Ouch!
Many businesses use no-reply email addresses to avoid getting their inboxes clogged up with replies. For example, they might use a no-reply address to send transactional emails—such as order confirmations or delivery notifications. But whilst this approach could filter out unnecessary email replies, it could also hinder their marketing efforts.
Even if you’ve designed a beautiful newsletter and worked out the best time to send an email, a no-reply email address will put everything to waste. To customers, a no-reply email address can feel cold and distant. It can also hinder email deliverability and go against GDPR and CAN-SPAM laws. And no one wants that!
So in this article, we’re going to learn why using a no-reply email address is a bad idea, before exploring the alternative practices to adopt instead. There are some great tips and tools which can help you get maximum engagement with your customers, without having to use a ‘do not reply’ email address.
You’ve probably seen one of these in your inbox before. A ‘do not reply’ email address will look something like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. If someone tries to respond to a no-reply email, they will most likely receive a delivery failure notification, or simply no answer at all. It’s like getting ghosted—but by email.
Companies often use no-reply emails to send out marketing messages, without thinking about the missed opportunity of incoming replies. In fact, they usually leave their no-reply inboxes unmonitored. But as we’re about to find out, no-reply emails can give businesses a headache in the long run.
You probably got the hint by now, but it’s best to steer clear of no-reply emails. Even though they might seem like an easy way to share information and avoid unnecessary email responses, they could come back to bite you in the end.
Here are 4 reasons why you should avoid using a ‘do not reply’ email address.
It’s a privilege to get someone’s permission to send them emails. But if they can’t respond to your email messages, then any chances of a dialog are lost. You could miss out on important feedback or requests. What if your customers feel disconnected from your brand? How will you know? This leads us on to the next point...
If someone is talking at you, without giving you a chance to answer, then you’ll probably feel quite fed up. The same is true for your customers. With a no-reply email address, they can’t interact with you. They won’t be able to add your contact information to their address book. They may see you as a faceless, inaccessible entity that bombards them with information, without caring about how they feel. This could lead to feelings of frustration towards you and your brand.
Yes, no-reply emails are a bit rude, but they are also technically breaking GDPR and CAN-SPAM regulations. Both laws give customers and subscribers the right to:
Ask you how you’re using their data
Reply asking to unsubscribe from future emails
A no-reply inbox won’t let them do either of these things, which can spell trouble for your email marketing campaign.
No-reply email addresses can be a problem for your email deliverability. To protect your inbox, email clients such as Yahoo, Outlook and Gmail have spam filters. Incoming emails are sorted depending on factors such as open rates and replies—which could be a problem if you’re using a no-reply email address. ‘Do not reply’ emails will often go straight to the spam folder, putting all your email marketing efforts to waste.
Right, we’re all on the same page—no-reply addresses can be rude. Let’s hear the good news! There are lots of alternative strategies that you can use instead of a no-reply email address. Here are 3 of our favorites:
First up, it’s time to adopt a real email address. If you’re sending automated email messages, you could use an alias, such as email@example.com. That way, customers can tell that it’s an automatic email, but it looks a lot friendlier in their inboxes!
If you don’t want to monitor this email account, leave a note telling people where they can direct their messages and queries. This might be an alternative email address or a link to a live chat, for example. That way, you are still encouraging two-way communication.
This transactional email from M&S is a great example. They use an email alias, and the email includes links to their contact page, where people can access customer support if they need to.
If you’re noticing common questions in your inbox, then this is the perfect opportunity to create an FAQ or resource page. You can add a link in the body or the footer of your email so that people know where to find more information. Or you could set up an online community, or share a link to a video tutorial.
This personalized email from Headspace includes links to their customer support email address and FAQs page. If you don’t want your inbox to be bombarded with replies, then sharing resources directly in your email is a great way to stem the tide.
When a subscriber replies to your newsletter, the message is sent to the email address that is connected to your MailerLite account.
If you can’t monitor your inbox all the time, but you do plan to reply to emails eventually, then there are lots of tools out there to help you filter and reply to subscriber responses.
Email services, like Gmail and Outlook, can be set up with filters to move certain emails to different folders. This is useful to help you organize which emails you need to reply to, and which ones you can ignore.
For example, you might receive some ‘message delivery notification’ emails, or ‘out of office’ auto-replies from your subscribers. These don’t need a reply, so you could set up a filter to send these directly to spam or trash.
On the other hand, you could set up other filters for emails that contain important keywords and need a response. These ones could be moved straight to a ‘Response needed’ folder, so that you can reply to them later.
If you’re using Gmail, just select the down arrow in your search bar, and you’ll see a window which looks like this:
Enter your criteria for the filter, hit ‘Create filter’ and then you’re ready to go. If you want to create a filter for a particular email message, just select the checkbox next to it, and then click the three dots and select ‘Filter messages like these.’ Et voila!
An autoresponder could also become your new best friend. If someone sends an email to your inbox, it can send an auto-reply for you. This allows you to set up a line of communication with your subscribers straight away.
If you want to create an auto-response, it is best to create a dedicated email account for your newsletters. Otherwise, your personal emails will receive the auto-response as well.
Here's how to set it up in Gmail. Head to your settings and scroll all the way down to ‘Vacation responder’. Then you can input your message and click ‘Save changes’. Whenever a subscriber responds to your MailerLite newsletter, they will receive your auto-reply.
In the example below, Great Western Railway has set up an autoresponder for people who get in touch. They thank the person for contacting them and share some useful links which they can explore in the meantime. This auto-reply is a great way to reassure their subscribers that they’re interested in communicating with them, and that they’ll get back to them as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve designed an amazing newsletter with the right email cadence for your audience… a ‘do not reply’ email address could stop everything in its tracks. No-reply email addresses can be harmful to customer engagement and email deliverability. But with a few small changes, you can still send automated emails AND avoid getting flooded with replies. Here’s a checklist to help you stay on top of things.
✅ Make sure I’m using a real email address which customers can reply to
✅ Use an email alias, if the inbox is monitored by different team members
✅ Create a filter in my inbox to get rid of unnecessary incoming emails
✅ Adopt tools which can help me receive and respond to incoming emails
✅ Add links to our FAQs, contact details and unsubscribe form in the email footer
The key is to include helpful resources and customer support links in your email footer. And where a response is necessary, set up a system that can help you to manage and respond to incoming emails. With a few tweaks like these, you’re on your way to a positive two-way communication channel with your customers.
Do you know any other best practices for managing newsletter replies? Let us know in the comments below.