Yesterday’s email from Bounty Hunter Wine got me thinking. Occasionally I will get emails from companies where a company will use a personal name or a variant of their company name in the “From” section of the email. It is an interesting strategy used to make an email stand out from the rest of your inbox. The question though is whether or not the reward of greater visibility is worth the potential risk.
Take a look at these emails I’ve received over the past few days:
In each of these emails, the company has altered the send name. Instead of “Chubbies”, you get “thermometer@chubbie.” and “FLANNEL TWO NEWS”. Instead of WWE or WWE Shop, you have “Friends & Family |”. Instead of Famous IRL, you have “Mike at Famous IRL”. Instead of Pottery Barn, you have “Store Events at Pot.”.
Now let’s look at this when one is mixed in with other standard promotion box emails:
On the one hand, it does make the email stand out, especially because it is in the Promotions tab of the inbox. This is an area where you expect to see company names, so when you see the name of a person, it does catch your eye.
While the strategy does work in terms of being eye catching, it is not without risk. Take the WWE Shop email for example. Every email the company sends out comes with the “From” section that reads “WWE Shop”. Here’s a small sample of what they’ve sent over the past couple weeks:
When they change the name to “Friends & Family”, the email completely loses its branding. Given that this is one of the key reasons why people open promotional emails, completely removing it from the inbox is problematic.
Looking at Chubbies on the other hand, you’ll notice that they do this quite a bit, making it somewhat more expected and less problematic:
That being said, it should be noted that the “FLANNEL TWO NEWS” is more problematic than other Chubbies emails because they don’t show the brand anywhere. The tone of the entry is in line with the company’s normal sense of humor, but it is less of a direct tie back to the brand than their standard emails.
So why is all this important? Simply put, the send name helps to maintain trust. When a customer is scrolling through pages of offers in their promotion box, standing out is only half the battle. The customer needs to see your email, but they also need to know who’s sending it. When WWE Shop changes their name to “Friends & Family”, it loses all brand visibility. For the Famous IRL example, they’re adding a personalized name, but they’re maintaining the brand (Famous IRL), so the reader knows who’s sending it.
Just because a tactic makes your email more visible, it doesn’t mean that people are going to open it. If a customer doesn’t know who the sender is, they’re not going to feel comfortable opening your email.
Standing out in the inbox is absolutely vital, but damaging the trust you have built with the people kind enough to give you permission to email them ultimately causes far more long term damage than any short term gains can offset.