No reply

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In the research that I recently published for IG Digital into the ways in which organisations are using digital channels to engage with customers, email came out on top. Of the 65 organisations I spoke to, just about every one had established processes for the ways in which they handled email communications from customers.

Which makes the continued existence of the “No Reply” email address even more baffling.

At some point in the early days of email marketing someone happened upon the idea that the address from which you sent the emails that the recipients almost certainly didn’t want would be one that wasn’t staffed. Was it, I wonder, an acknowledgement that if anyone was daft enough to read the thing then their usual response would be ire at having wasted those precious moments of their life being marketed at? Who knows…

But today the email “no reply” address lives on like a memorial to internet times of yore, a bit like the “www” prefix that many think is a necessary standard. As Twitter buddy Mark Wilson put it yesterday

“No-reply email says “we don’t want to use this channel”, which might as well be “we don’t want to talk to you””

This is crackers, and belies a lack of technical and marketing understanding somewhere along the line. Take the example that I received from, of all people, Wired magazine a few days ago. They’ve taken all of the effort to send me an email, to engage in conversation. And yet the most natural way for me to reply – to hit the reply button – is barred from me.

I’ve never really understood why mass email marketing is still used. The response rates are abysmal. It’s relatively cheap, I guess. But to use it and then to close down the opportunity for follow up? Crackers.

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