Identifying yourself in an email - What not to do

I talked a bit about From names in a previous post, and the importance of identifying yourself clearly. Well, today I received an email from a really wonderful vendor and partner, and I had absolutely, positively no idea it was from them.

What not to do! #

The From name: “System Update”. The subject: “Downtime notice”. Sounds pretty serious, right? Well, who is the “system” and what will be down? I open the email, only to find no mention of the product, site, or application that will be down. I was clueless, and kind of concerned. If I wasn’t using Gmail, I might have thought it to be spam, but I have come to trust my inbox. So, must be something I care about. The only way I was able to identify the mysterious site was by showing all details in Gmail, to see that the from email was Return Path.

Now, please believe it’s not my intention to call them out or anything. I love Return Path, and I’m positive this was a mistake. Probably a quick system notification that wasn’t completely thought through by the developer. They are extremely knowledgeable about email, so I’m sure if someone noticed later they would correct the issue right away. Even just simply changing the From name to ReturnPath System Update (even if it’s kind of long) would solve the problem. My only intention is to point this out so you, our customer, doesn’t repeat the same mistake.

Take away message #

Your transactional email is important, even if it’s just a system announcement. Please, pretty please, read it a few times before you send it. Email needs to be treated with the same scrutiny and usability reviews as your site or application. Make sure, at least, that people know who you are so they open the email and know what it’s about.