Yes, No No Reply Please

The greatest trick the marketing devils ever pulled is convincing you that you shouldn’t reply. About those foolish noreply email addresses.

Recently, some people have said to me, “Did you get my email about your post?” and I would say, “What email?” Later I would re-check my inbox and spam folder and tell them I didn’t receive anything.

Confusing, but I didn’t know why it was happening until someone forwarded me the email from their sent box. They were replying to the newsletter and the newsletter for this site was being sent from noreply@wordpress.com.

Well. That’s not going to get to me.

Worse still, that address didn’t bounce back to tell the emailer that their reply wasn’t going to be delivered to anyone but an automated deletion script on a WordPress server somewhere.

I did not like this so I rebuilt the newsletter system. (Twice! See the updated post.)

Two things here:

  1. If you care enough about what I have to say that you subscribe and read my posts every week, you can email me whenever you like!! Y’all are aces in my book and I’d love to hear your hellos.
  2. No site/writer/creator/business should ever put up unnecessary barriers between them and their audience/customers.

The noreply@ is an unnecessary burden.

Say you have a business, and you send me an email for any reason (marketing, update, security, whatever.) I should be able to hit reply and have my words go to someone who’ll handle it properly.

Email is not a one-way communication tool. The standard of email is back and forth. How dare companies think they can send an email without dealing with the replies!

So why are noreply email addresses so popular? I have a couple thoughts on that:

The first reason could be the do-it-because-that-is-what-others-do. It’s an email address meme in the same way that as-much-as-a-cup-of-coffee is a pricing meme. We don’t think about the pros or cons of it, and we do it because we’ve seen it around the world and it smokes and we all know smokers are cool.

Picture an engineer setting up an email system for the marketing department as quickly as she can so she can get back to her normal job working on the company’s main product. The spec doesn’t include which address to send it from, so she uses noreply@company.com as a placeholder while she builds the email system. It’s easy to toss in and never think about again because it’s such a common email address to use. As so often happens, no one ever loops back to change it and it goes live.

In this way, it spreads like a disease.

But if this way is a disease, the other way is a biological weapon.

Companies don’t want to spend money on customer support. Allowing replies to every transactional and marketing email generates a lot of support requests from people that would otherwise not bother. So they switch to using noreply@ addresses in their emails and complicate the support request process, putting pages of searchable FAQs and several steps in the way of submitting a request.

Barrier after barrier after barrier to stop your customers from talking to you.

Madness.

Maybe it makes financial sense, but money is short-sighted. Relationship building and caring about customers is where the long-term benefits live.

So change that noreply@ to pleasereplyiamlonely@ or something.