From time to time, we like to dig into our own inboxes to get a fresh perspective on what’s happening in our industry in real-time. Pushing aside the buzzwords and hype allows us to see what the real marketers behind real brands are sending. This week, we didn’t have to open a single email to spot one trend – the value of the from name.
A lot of credence is given to subject lines and pre-headers as the keys to open rate success. Often overlooked but equally important is the from name. As a consumer, the from name can serve as a gut check. Even if a subject line piques interest, taking a peek to the left can be a deciding factor in whether or not the message is worthy of an open. The from name also takes advantage of loyalty and brand awareness, arguably even usurping the subject line as the deciding factor for those most familiar with your brand.
Given its importance, some brands take a risky chance using from names that don’t readily identify the sender.
I recently signed up for emails from a monthly wine concierge service. Though they immediately began emailing me almost daily, it took over a week to elicit an open because I had no idea who Maria S. was.
Making matters even more confusing, I began receiving emails from different people in the company – 4 different from names in less than 2 weeks.
The strategy here was likely an attempt to be more personal, but in execution it missed the mark. A compromise in this approach is using a personal name and the company name, as in the example below.
This allows you to maintain the personal connection while also delivering the brand recognition that is crucial in today’s crowded inbox.
We’d hate to make the sweeping generalization that you should never use anything but brand name as your inbox identifier. Though it may not work for every brand, Shinesty varies their from name with nearly every send, though they always use @shinesty to maintain brand awareness and recognition.
Although there are no hard and fast rules about what makes the perfect from name, we recommend keeping the following in mind:
- Recognition is key. Unless you are personally on a first name basis with your subscriber, your name alone may not be recognizable enough to elicit the open. Use at least part of your brand or product name.
- Use Geo-Targeting. If you are a brand with multiple locations, try using that to your advantage. For example, instead of just BRAND as your from name, try BRAND – CITY.
- Be Specific. If you send multiple communication types, test referencing those in the from name – BRAND News, BRAND Offers.
The bottom line is that the from name is a valuable piece of real estate that should be approached with as much thought and intention as the other inbox elements we spend so much time perfecting. And, as with nearly any tactic in this channel, testing is critical to determine what works best for your unique audience.