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Changing from address? Keep your inbox placement

Author's avatar By Tim Watson 09 Jan, 2012
Essential Essential topic

5 actions to minimise the impact of an address change

In my last post I summarized 9 common headaches to watch for when you change email service provider. This time I'm drilling down into the first of these, guidance to manage changing your from email address.

This guidance is valid too for other occasions when you change your from email address. Such as a change in branding, company mergers and acquisitions, moving transaction emails from your eCommerce system to your marketing system, or simply sorting out some historical oddities in your identity.

Your from email details are made up of the from display name and from address, such as 'Acme Offer <[email protected]>'. The display name is 'Acme Offer' and from email address [email protected]

In this post I'm concentrating on deliverability issues connected with change of email address, rather than consideration of what makes effective from email information, as this is a subject in its own right.

Three inbox placement challenges are

  • Your customers may have whitelisted your old from email address
  • Your customers may have created filter rules in their email client based on your from address
  • ISPs are increasingly attaching reputation to your from email address as well as your IP address

To take account of these factors a change of email address should be planned and managed. Here are five

1 Get prepared
Your technical team will need to update your SPF, DomainKeys and DKIM authentication protocols.

Correct authentication protocols are very important and significant factors in ISP spam filter rules. I've seen some corporate firewalls totally reject emails just on the basis of invalid SPF. Speak to your ESP or whoever manages your sending platform to get changes made.

2 Advise your customers
Before changing your from email address, email from your existing email address to advise your customers of your new address.

Unless your open rate is 100% consider doing this over more than one email, to increase the chances the message is seen. Initially add a message to your normal emails, such as in the pre-header area; 'Our email address is changing to X, ensure you continue to get exclusive news please add us to your contacts'.

Then just before the changeover send a specific email to notify your customers. Don't forget to keep the message and value of the email in the context of what's in it for me.

To be really helpful include a link in the message to instructions on how to whitelist an email address in different clients.

3 Build reputation
If you have high volumes then build your new reputation stepwise. If you are changing IP address too then this can be done concurrently. The approach should be the same for both domain and IP address reputation building, start slowly with campaigns giving high engagement and build the volume over time.

Consider what strong calls to action you can give to your customers to engage in the first emails. Getting engagement with the new email address will help give the reputation a kick start. Best is a strong reason to open, click or reply with a low level of commitment implied from taking the action.

Whilst most ISPs only give reputation to the part after the @ symbol, Yahoo uses the whole from email address, thus [email protected] and [email protected] are considered different.

4 Tell them its changed
After the change some customers may start seeing your emails for the first time in a while, so keep a message in the pre-header about the new email address and request to be added to contacts.

A still more intelligent approach would be to only include this message to inactive customers, or change placement of message according to level of engagement.

5 Check all is well
Check your open, click and bounce rates remain consistent with your historic campaign levels. To be totally scientific that there is no impact, run a split test using both before and after from email addresses.

Check also your unsubscribe and spam complaint rates across different email platforms.

You may see these initially increase due to customers who previously had filtered you emails seeing them again. They should drop quickly to normal levels.

If you previously had a good reputation, then the good news is that it should not be a problem to build a good reputation again.


Author's avatar

By Tim Watson

Tim is founder of email marketing consultancy Zettasphere and EOS Implementer at Traction Six. Experience includes Operations Director at Email Reaction and Marketing Director (fractional) in the US delivering a 310% revenue increase to $5m. Tim has 15 years of email marketing expertise with a heavily analytical approach to strategic choices. Connect with Tim via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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