The âCry Wolfâ of Email: Beware Receipt-Deceit | DMA

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The âCry Wolfâ of Email: Beware Receipt-Deceit


This is personal. One of my regular contacts (you know who you are) requests a read receipt with every email. Having just received a 5-word email accompanied by – you guessed it – yet another read receipt, I am gritting my teeth and venting my frustration … but I do have a smart solution.

Am I being unreasonable? Is it just one of those email bugbears that’s up there with broken email signatures and vague subject lines? I think it’s more than that.

The read receipt is the ‘cry wolf’ of email – always attention-seeking so that when that urgent emergency finally arrives, I shall be so weary from receipt-deceit that their demands will simply be dealt with in my own time.

Do they do it on every communication, not just email? Do they demand a receipt with every text? Do they send all their letters recorded delivery? (That must cost them a fortune) Does every gift they give come with a demand for a thank you letter?

It’s not the concept I have the problem with, it’s all in the connotation. If they only took 2 seconds to realise what their read receipt is really saying, how it makes them look – and makes me feel – they’d realise the risk:-

Coming across as a control-freak

A read receipt doesn’t reflect the relaxed reassurance they might take from a reply, it’s the control-freak kick they get from every confirmation designed to put you under a bit of passive-aggressive pressure. If you don’t get an immediate read receipt I’m not lazy, I’m just busy or maybe your email just doesn’t need a response.

Making it all about them, and not about you the recipient

And marketing people can be the worst – even though it goes against market orientation 101. Time to start seeing your email through the recipient’s eyes.

Appearing paranoid about their performance

I know you’re probably under permanent pressure but do you really need to cover your back with every single email?

Being ‘ghosted’

They get their receipt but they don’t get a reply. Acknowledged but ignored. Will it teach them a lesson? You’ll probably just get even more increasingly tense emails each with – you’ve guessed it – their own read receipt.

Undermining their brand

It’s easy to forget that even the most mundane everyday email you send, reflects not just you but your company brand, both in its content and its style. So if someone in your company has gone to the trouble of ensuring that your email signatures are all on-brand (and we strongly recommend they do) then they’re not going to thank you for risking reputation with an over-zealous read receipt.

As up-tight as it may sound, to keep every email on-brand, you should have a policy on read receipts.

But there is a solution…

A solution so subtle that it’s effectively secret…

A single, invisible referenced image that guarantees confirmation that your email has been delivered and seen without the recipient having to click a read receipt.

Rocketseed enables you to include read alert beacons in your everyday email branding. As soon as your email has been read, you will receive a notification email showing the date and time the email was opened.

This allows you to understand, in a non-invasive way, who has read your email.

It’s time to re-think, and replace, the read receipt.

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