Your email from name or sender name is like the logo on your storefront. You’d never lightly change your brand name. You want to be instantly recognizable, whether it’s from the curb or in the inbox. You also want to fully leverage all the investments you’ve made in your brand—which your brand name and logo represent—via advertising, marketing, store environments, and customer experiences.
While you’d surely hesitate to change your brand name, most companies wouldn’t hesitate to hang signs in their windows or big banners on their store facade to communicate what’s happening in their store right now. This is essentially the opportunity that brands have with email from name extensions.
This opportunity exists because most brands’ names don’t take up all of the characters available to them in the friendly from field in the inbox. For example, Gmail displays approximately 20 characters of the from name, and the iPhone’s native email client displays 20-25 characters of a from name, depending on the day of the week that the email was delivered and when the recipient reads the envelope content. So if your brand name is, say, 10 characters long, then you have a solid 10 characters left that you can use to say something else.
Not sure what to use those extra characters to say? We have some suggestions based on what we’ve seen brands do and what we’ve done with our clients.
Here’s a list of approaches to consider—along with potential dividers to place between your brand’s name and the extension:
Use your remaining sender name characters to bring in a human voice. In cases where the email is written as being from a particular person, consider using the name of that company executive, representative, spokesperson, guest, or partner in the from name.
When brands make the risky move of dropping their brand name from their sender name, it’s usually to replace it with a person’s name. Most often, it’s the name of their CEO or that of a sales representative. The mistake is thinking that those names have as much consumer awareness and power as their brand name. They don’t. The solution is to use both the company name and the name of the person.
“For example, Dell adds a human touch to their event invitation emails by using a sender name that combines the representative’s name and company’s name,” says Otilia Antipa, Principal B2B Consultant at Oracle Marketing Cloud (OMC) Consulting. “This allows them to maintain trust and consistency as their subscribers get more familiar with their representatives.”
We recommend leading with your brand name and then following with the person’s name. If you’re compelled to do the reverse, be extra wary of leading with a person’s name that’s so long that your brand name will be truncated, diminishing your brand recognition in the inbox. That could lead to a decrease in engagement and an increase in spam complaints and lost subscribers.
If it fits, consider adding your slogan after your brand name.
For recurring emails on a topic or theme, consider adding the appropriate descriptor after your brand name.
Depending on your brand, some of the content tags can be even more specific, says Clint Kaiser, Head of Strategic & Analytic Services at OMC Consulting. “For example, if you’re a weather service, airline, or hospitality company, you might use ‘YourBrand Hurricane Alert’ or ‘YourBrand Storm Alert’ as the from name of an email updating customers on the impact of the storm.”
If you often send promotions that are only good in-store or only good online, for example, use your extra from name space to further amplify that fact.
Whether it’s an operational department or a product department, adding a department identifier to your sender name can help customers and subscribers more easily differentiate and prioritize your various emails. This is especially true when the emails are part of a separate opt-in or interaction.
“Changing the sender name to align with exclusive access can be a powerful tool to prioritize your emails and help the subscriber easily identify relevant content,” says Antipa. “For example, instead of just using their company name when messaging about their loyalty programs, you’ll see brands use the names of their loyalty programs—like Sephora Beauty Insider, Anthro Perks, and Starbucks Rewards—which almost always include the company’s brand name, too.”
Tags like “Customer Service,” “Customer Care,” and “Guest Rewards” can be overly long for brands that don’t have really short names. Look for one-word equivalents whenever possible to avoid or minimize truncations of your email from name.
Triggered emails are highly relevant and high value, so consider helping them stand out in the inbox by hinting at their special, contextual nature.
“Changing the from line for a triggered message is an effective way to differentiate it from your ‘regular programming’,” says Kaiser. “That is especially true for the retailers that have a heavy promotional mailing schedule. Triggered emails can get lost in the mix unless they are differentiated in some material way and the from line is a great way to do this.”
With one retail client, altering the from address to match the content resulted in open rates increasing 15% and click rates increasing 61% versus the control group, says Kaiser.
Retailers and other brands that are heavily driven by seasonality may want to consider extending their from name with a seasonal tag, although this is currently a rarely used approach.
If you’re an intermediary service brand that connects your customers with your partners—think OpenTable and Airbnb—consider making that relationship clear in the sender name by including both brands.
If you’re periodically exposing one of your brand’s subscribers to the products and services of one of your other brands, you may want to make that relationship clear in the sender name.
As you’re considering various approaches and possibilities, here are some additional issues to consider:
Your from name is already long. If your brand name has 15 or more characters, it may not make sense to explore from name extensions. You may simply not have enough characters left to be able to use them effectively in the inboxes of enough of your subscribers. If you use “Ltd.,” “LLC,” “Corp.,” and other designators in your from name, consider dropping them to free up characters.
We would caution you against abbreviating or using an acronym as your sender name if you don’t commonly use it in other channels already. The No. 1 goal of your email from name is to make it immediately clear who you are and you don’t want to compromise that brand recognition for anything.
Test it! Even if you have a nice, short brand name, you’ll want to test whether various from name extensions are winners with your subscribers. Be sure to set up your A/B testing correctly.
Set up BIMI. Adding additional words to your sender name has the potential to dilute your brand name. Ensure that your branding is as strong as possible by making use of Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI), which enables your logo to appear next to your email from name in many inboxes. BIMI boosts your branding and recognition, which in turn can increase engagement and therefore deliverability.
Don’t overdo it. Just as with any other tactic, there can be diminishing returns if your audience sees it too much, says Peter Briggs, Director of Strategic Services at OMC Consulting.
“Some clients have seen the most success by being very selectively in choosing which promotions, lifecycle triggers, and other messages to use this tactic with,” says Briggs. “That’s the best way to ensure that the impact from changing up your from name doesn’t get diluted.”
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Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.