In a recent DMA report, email subscribers were asked, “What is most likely to prompt you to mark an email from a brand/shop/site you know as junk/spam?” The top three reasons where:
Unrecognised senders came out as the top reason to mark a message as spam (50 percent of consumers); this demonstrates the need for clear and, more importantly, consistent branding.
Building trust between a brand and the end recipient is also very important. 16 percent of the consumers said the loss of trust would make them mark the email as spam. When asked about reasons for unsubscribing, 26 percent of consumers said it was it would be down to a loss of trust with a brand. Also, building trust makes end users more likely to sign up. In the same DMA report when consumers were asked, “What persuades you to give your email address to a brand/shop/website?” 35 percent said it would be down to trust with the brand—that is up 4 percent compared to 2016. Having brand trust will make consumers more likely to sign up; more likely to give you their primary email address; more likely to consider you a responsible user of their data; and less likely to unsubscribe or complain.
Reading this report got me thinking about something that recently happened to me. For a long time now, I have been signed up to a company called Yellow Bulldog who offers merchandise for TV, movies, and gaming. I receive their emails on a regular basis that I read and file away for later reference (birthdays and Christmas). All emails use the From Name “Yellow Bulldog” so when organizing my inbox I know to engage with these emails.
A few weeks ago, I received an email with the From Name “Darth Vader.” As I didn’t recognize the name I deleted it without opening or really paying any attention to the subject line. It was a few hours later when I thought more about it that I went to have a look who had actually sent me that email. It turns out it was Yellow Bulldog and they had changed their From Name to tie it to the subject line and the Star Wars promotion they were running. Below is a capture of my inbox for Yellow Bulldog, as you can see the different From Name really stands out.
Though standing out in the inbox is normally a good thing, in this case, it was the opposite. I work in email every day and I deleted the email without even reading it. It’s not just me either, I work with a global team of email experts and they all said they would have done the same thing. I did go back to look in my deleted folder just to see who it was from but I doubt a most would. Most would have deleted the email and not have given it a second thought.
Using Return Path’s Consumer Panel we can see the email using the ‘Darth Vader’ From Name has a higher deleted without reading rate compared to Yellow Bulldog’s 30 day average. This shows that there was no recognition of the brand and recipients were deleting it thinking it was spam. If consumers are deleting emails without reading them, this could put brands in a negative light with mailbox providers. Mailbox providers will see the brand as not being relevant or engaging to the recipient and could start delivering future emails into the spam folder.
All of this shows that building and maintaining trust between brands and consumers is a key requirement for nurturing engagement, it’s easy to lose and once it’s lost it’s hard to rebuild. Senders need to use clear branding and think carefully before changing elements that would affect their branding. How can a brand build trust if the end recipient doesn’t recognize the emails from the brand?