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Yes This Really is Us

I talk a lot about adding humanity into your email marketing to make it a conversational experience for your readers. This is not just some clever angle that I dreamed up. I really believe it and this belief is reinforced every single day.

If there was a knock at your door and the person claimed to be there to read the gas meter but was wearing jeans, trainers and a hoody and had no company identification, would you let them into your house? No, you wouldn’t. So why would you expect someone to open and read your email if it doesn’t identify you and your brand as the sender. I am constantly surprised by the number of emails I get from generic domains.

I recently got a call from a friend on a number not stored in my phone. Because of the background noise, I could not recognise 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 has been a sales call, I would have just hung up. To put this into the context of your email, the farther away from your brand your email gets to 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 appreciate their challenge in identifying the emails the recipient really wants (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) and the ones they have asked for (opt-in email marketing) and separating these from the incredibly huge numbers that they 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 Name. If there is, and it does not match your domain name and domain registration details then your email is going to be on the way to the junk folder. On the other hand, there may be no From Name 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 or 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 or 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 of 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 your 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 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, which overcomes the need to connect your ESP with your IT department but this custom from domain 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 and you only get one chance to make a good impression. A branded from domain is essential to:

1.Get better delivery rates

2. Engage your recipients for better open rates

3. Protect your company domain name and your transactional emails

This is adapted from a post originally posted at

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