Here’s the scenario. You are at lunch with friends. Your cell phone rings, and you look down to glance at the screen. The caller ID shows a phone number rather than a name you recognize. Do you answer or let the call go to voicemail? The chances are that you will choose the latter.

This post, 5 Ways to Use the From Line to Increase Email Opens, was first published on WebMarketingToday.

Or how about this? Same lunch, same friends, same phone ringing. But this time the caller ID shows that it’s your mom or someone you know well, and with whom you are happy to speak. Do you answer it? Most likely, you do.

Whether or not you answered the phone had everything to do with who the call was from. It is precisely the same with email. If we don’t know the sender, it’s unlikely we will open the message, read it, or respond.

‘From’ Line Dictates How Recipients Respond

According to a report by The Radicati Group (PDF), a technology marketing research firm, the average number of business emails sent and received each day is 125. That doesn’t include the seemingly unstoppable flood of spam emails, which can easily double that number.

Corporate Email Sent and Received Per User Per Day, 2011-2015 (Source: The Radicati Group)

Corporate Email Sent and Received Per User Per Day, 2011-2015 (Source: The Radicati Group)

Trying to keep up can be a mind-numbing experience that has us conditioned to do a quick scan of our email inboxes to decide what to read, what to delete, and what to simply ignore. If we are irritated enough, we may even make the decision to report the email as spam or mark it as junk. And many of these decisions are made based on a single piece of information: the “From” line.

Here are five ways to use the from line to increase email open rates.

1. Choose an Identity that Makes the Most Sense

How you identify yourself in the from line depends on how your audience best recognizes you.

For example, as a guitar player, I am accustomed to receiving marketing emails from the major online music stores. Because I am interested in the subject, I almost always open these, based on a from line that identifies the store as the sender.

However, I also recall receiving an email where the from line was the name of a store employee. It stood out and differentiated that store from among the others.

There is no one answer to what identity makes the most sense. For the most part, it depends on your relationship with the audience to whom you are sending the message.

2. Use a Company Email Address

Use a company domain name to the right of the “@” symbol if possible. Doing so puts forth your company’s brand identity and makes the communication feel more legitimate. It’s not that recipients won’t read an email with a “@gmail.com” or “@yahoo.com” from line; it’s just that the message may feel less professional and, therefore, less trustworthy in the eyes of someone who may not know you personally.

3. Avoid ‘[email protected]’ or ‘[email protected]’ From Lines

Just as important as what is to the right of the “@” symbol is what’s to the left. Using an address such as “sales@myco.com” or “info@myco.com” is the virtual equivalent of sending a piece of direct mail to “current resident.” It screams that you have no relationship with the person receiving the email or, worse, that you are hiding your true identity. Avoid it if you can.

4. Consider Using a Personal Name, Company Combination

An alternative to the impersonal “info” or “sales” from line might be to use a hybrid approach that combines a person’s name with your company name.

Consider using a from line combines a personal name and company name.

Consider using a from line combines a personal name and company name.

I often send out emails where the from line will be something like “Charles at The W.L. Gaiennie Company.” That’s easy enough to do with most email marketing systems and allows you to both personalize the from line while clearly identifying your company.

5. Be a Welcomed Guest

Despite its prevalence in business, email is still deemed to be personal space. Being invited into that space is often at the sole discretion of the person receiving the message. It’s important that email list members view your company as a welcome guest by first identifying that it is you.

Implicit in this invitation is the quality of the relationship. Your identity can be the reason that people respond to or ignore the email. Who you are, at a very personal level, has everything to do with the success of your email campaigns.

However, coupled with always following the rule of only sending relevant, actionable messages, I’m sure that your presence in the recipient’s email space will always be welcomed.