No-reply emails are easy to recognize as they typically from an address that looks like “email@example.com.” While brands might think a no-reply email address is the solution to receiving a flood of email replies, it actually frustrates and confuses users. Additionally, it interferes with communication and negatively impacts email deliverability. In this post, we’ll discuss why no-reply emails are a problem, and why we decided to create a workaround. Negatives of a “No-Reply” When we were designing our SendGrid platform, we tried to solve most of the existing email problems and make an extensible platform where other companies could add functionality and solve future problems. One of the current problems is taking incoming replies from emails. We noticed many companies sending automated or transactional emails to their users using a From email address in the form of firstname.lastname@example.org. This creates two huge missed opportunities that SendGrid users can now easily take advantage of by using our parse API. The first missed opportunity is communicating with users. Companies such as Posterous, WordPress, Intense Debate, and Facebook have taken advantage of the wide adoption of email to develop great applications. WordPress and Posterous allow users to write and publish a blog post by just sending an email. In the same manner, Facebook and Intense Debate allow users to reply to comments by just replying to an email. The second missed opportunity is increasing email deliverability. Webmail email providers such as Yahoo and Gmail automatically add email addresses that users reply to often to their contacts list. Messages from senders in the contacts list won’t be marked as spam in most cases. The best way to start is to allow registered users to reply to emails to confirm their email accounts in addition to providing a confirmation link. Lastly, there is a large missed opportunity in terms of your brand’s relationship with the subscriber and the subscriber experience. We don’t often think of email as a social media platform, yet it is. Any communication tool that facilitates two-way communications is, by its very nature, social. In today’s world, your customers and stakeholders are not concerned with how you as a brand prefer to be communicated with. When they have questions or feedback for a brand, they expect to be able to use the medium where they receive communications to quickly and easily communicate back. Seeing a no-reply address in the from address of a message can be a signal to the subscriber that the brand is not interested in hearing from them, which increasingly feels like a negative experience. In time, these negative experiences, even when small, can lead to degraded engagement from your subscribers and, thus, harm your overall deliverability. So why haven’t companies taken advantage of this in the past? First, it is difficult to set up the infrastructure to handle this. It requires setting up email server software, worrying about scalability, and maintenance. Second, parsing emails correctly can be difficult. Emails are encoded differently, have multiple parts, languages, etc. Luckily, SendGrid makes all these pains go away. Companies using SendGrid can get this functionality in minutes. SendGrid acts as an email proxy to web applications. Users just point a domain such as domainmail.com or a subdomain such as mail.domain.com’s MX record to our cluster mx.sendgrid.net and give us a URL to post parsed emails to. Any email sent to that domain/subdomain comes to SendGrid, we parse it (including attachments), and post it to a web application. This allows programmers to develop regular web forms that are exactly the same as if they were taking user input from a web browser. Companies can give unique email addresses to their users or use the same email address and include an unique identifier in the subject (such as ZenDesk) or in the body.