Friendly From or Total Stranger?

June 29, 2016
Written by
Kate Schmeisser
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

Friendly From or Total Stranger?

The Backstory

We often recommend that when you’re sending your mail, you make sure to use a “friendly from” as a sending identity. A friendly from is when you use a designated name to appear as the from address, instead of the email address itself: can be sent as “Example User” <>

For example, you may see your email from SendGrid reads:

SendGrid <>

The Problem

I’ve noticed some businesses have started putting the name of an employee (someone who will be the “face of their email” so to speak) as the friendly from that will appear in their recipients’ inbox. While it’s an interesting tactic to try and create a more personal connection, I think it’s a risky move.

If I sign up to receive a company’s newsletter, but their email is just showing up as an employee’s name, then it’s a jarring experience. I have to click through and look at the domain in the sending address just to figure out who it’s from.

We like to remind our senders that the inbox is a personal space that you’re invited to come into and that you need to act like a guest! Sending from a random friendly from is similar to RSVPing to a party, then sending your brother instead. Related? Yes. Mostly confusing? Definitely.

An Example

Say I opened a flower shop called Kate’s Calla Lilies and started collecting email addresses (organically!) via an email signup form located at the checkout desk. Then I had my employee send the email so it showed up in my customer’s inboxes as:

Lauren Nicole <>

There’s a good chance I’ll grab people’s attention by placing a random name in their inbox, but it’s not for the best reason. I’d rather stand out for a witty subject line or fun pre-header text! The last thing you want people to think when they see your mail in their inbox is, “Who is this from?”

Whenever I find a marketing email to write a post about, the first thing I like to point out is strong branding. Part of strong branding is putting your best foot forward and being clear about who sent the message.

Now, there can be a time and place to test new things—it’s important to never stop testing different elements of your email campaigns to make sure you’re sending messages that resonate with your audience. Maybe you do have an employee who is very well known with your audience/customer base and using their name may actually help increase your inbox recognition and open rate. That’s amazing! Just consider what the user experience is like for people who are new to your brand or your product. You can still have some fun with your friendly from, just do yourself a favor and make sure it’s obviously associated with your brand, or if it isn’t branded, it’s because your test results told you so.

For some additional email marketing materials, download our content bundle, Email Marketing 101 Tips!

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