Attention To Detail: Who’s Sending Your Email?

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Depending on how early you brought your business to the Internet party, you might remember a time when the only email addresses a “company” needed were webmaster@mybusiness.com and contact@mybusiness.com. But honestly, that was ancient history. Things change and business internet practices have to change as well. As people become more sophisticated with their connectivity to the internet, marketers have to make sure they’re keeping in mind how their target audience actually uses those devices and what they do with the content they consume on them. Thus I arrive at this detail: who is sending your emails?

For a long time there were only two kinds of email – the kind you wanted to and the kind you didn’t. Then we got a little more picky and decided maybe we should separate out business email from personal email , and then there was still that kind you didn’t want to see – the spam. Now, we utilize email to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible to use blanket categorization, but we still must if we’re going to get through our email without just trashing huge chunks of it on a daily basis (something I do every morning).  More folks are figuring out how to categorize incoming email, thanks in part to improvements being made to interfaces like Gmail and Outlook. It’s time for the email marketer to really think about how the average customer might use these improvements and see whether or not their email marketing messages will even make the cut anymore.

Gmail sorting tabs

Let me elaborate with an example from my own business Gmail. Google’s built in sorting tabs attempt to sort your incoming email into 5 main classifications: primary, social, promotions, forums, and updates. How does Gmail decide which email goes where? Well, how would you build a filter? Generally, filters are built based on the email address from where the message originates. This is where “Who” is sending the mail becomes important. I routinely get three completely different types of email weekly from the same company whose service I use regularly – I get sales information on new products or special offers, I get blog updates with market assessment information, and I get notices of completed jobs I’ve run using their service. The problem is that they all originate from the same email address, which is default filtering mechanism for Gmail’s new sorting. When I drag a job completion email over into the Updates tab to assign it there, Gmail asks me if I want to use this filter for all email originating from that email address. Normally I would say yes, but because this particular company has not paid enough attention to details like this, this means that my Updates tab, which I am trying to use for job updates, will become cluttered with the blog articles and sales messages.

As I’ve worked through my backlog of email to try to utilize this feature, I’m discovering that the number of businesses who are falling prey to this laziness vastly outnumber those who’ve actually taken the small extra step of sending content updates from their content email, sales pitches from their sales email, and service reports from their reporting tool email. The days of sending all your email through “webmaster” or “no-reply” are over. Assigning email addresses is no longer the spooky alchemical magic domain of that one guy with the pocket-protector anymore. They don’t cost you anything (if they do, you’re doing it wrong) and they can be highly effective in assuring that your messages go to the right person, at the right time, and get sorted into the right place in order to be seen at the right time.

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Michelle has worked on the Internet (sometimes, literally) since before it had pictures, learned web development in HTML before it was iterated, worked in SEO when there were 12 search engines, watched Digg become the grandfather of social media, worked as a Google page rater, and predicted today's holistic online marketing environment back when MySpace was a thing. And she makes kick-ass fajitas.

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