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What you’re telling your customers when you tell them not to reply to your emails

You probably receive emails all the time from noreply@ addresses with the familiar words: Do not reply to this email .

Before you set up your ownnoreply@ email address, take a moment to consider what you’re telling your customers when you tell them not to reply to your emails.

email from a Google noreply address

Google telling me precisely how important I am to them

MESSAGE 1

We are important, you are not

When Google, Facebook or Amazon sends me a noreply@ email, implicit in the instruction not to reply is the assumption that the time it’ll take me to read the email is not worth much, whereas the time it might take them to read my reply is so  valuable that they refuse to countenance such a squandering of their precious resources.

MESSAGE 2

We provide no support

Sometimes there’s something wrong in the noreply@ emails I receive. Even Google, Facebook and Amazon make mistakes on occasion. The sender’s refusal to allow me to reply to it means one of two things.

1. It might mean that the sender does  provide support, but they insist that I go to their website and trawl through to find some way of contacting support, instead of simply replying to their email with my request. This is a tried-and-tested way of reducing the number of customer support requests… as well as reducing the number of customers.

2. It might mean that the sender does not  provide support, because they think they’re God or Google (these two terms being more or less interchangeable) and therefore infallible, so there can be no support issues worthy of their attention.

I speak from experience. Once, a long time ago when I had Google Ads on one of my websites, a bug in the Google payment process meant that the balance of over $100 that Google owed me was not being paid. I searched in vain for any way to bring this to Google’s attention: all their emails were from noreply@ addresses, and their support website did not allow me to contact them. After several months of going round in circles through “support” articles confidently informing me that I would be paid automatically as soon as my balance exceeded $100, I wondered whether I would have to bring a law suit against Google in the State of California to collect the money they owed me. Eventually I did find a carefully hidden form that did get me through to a Google employee, whose mind was blown when he realized that there was indeed a bug and Google did indeed owe me money. I worry that the Googlee may have suffered an existential crisis after arranging for me to be paid, unable to reconcile this interaction with the doctrine of Google infallibility.

MESSAGE 3

We don’t want to know what you think

If you have as many customers as Google, Facebook or Amazon, you’re no doubt deluged with feedback on your offerings. Who cares what your billionth customer thinks when press, politicians and presidents are telling you what they  think every day?

If you’re smaller, however, you’re more likely starved of information on what’s working for your customers and what’s not. Nothing is more important to your success than knowing why customers buy what you’re selling… and why they stop  buying what you’re selling. Most of them won’t tell you: they’ll subscribe, they’ll cancel, but they won’t leave the tiniest clue as to why.

Just once in a while a customer will want to tell you why they like you or why they don’t like you any more. If you’re telling them not to reply to your emails, you’ll never get to hear what they have to say.

MESSAGE 4

We don’t want your money

In your marketing efforts, you no doubt send out innumerable emails, desperately hoping that a tiny fraction of them will be read, let alone elicit a reply, let alone convert into a new customer.

So why, when you send out emails to existing  customers, would you tell them not to reply? Encouraging them to respond so might allow you to prevent a dissatisfied customer from churning, or up-sell a satisfied customer to a premium product. Compared to converting a new customer, that’s easy money.

MESSAGE 5

Talk to the hand

Imagine walking up to someone in the street and saying what you have to say, then, when they try to reply, holding up your hand and declaring: noreply!

That’s precisely what you’re doing when you send an email from a noreply@ address.

November 14,  2018