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Email Autoresponder Etiquette

Email autoresponders, also known as automatic replies or away/vacation messages are used quite often without a full understanding of how and when they should be used. While this email tool has many effective and useful applications, there are also times when using an autoresponder is not recommended.

Five Easy Autoresponder Tips

  1. When using autoresponders for your business away message, engage the autoresponder just before your leave the office. Then, write yourself a note to disengage the autoresponder so it is one of the first things you do when upon your return. Nothing smacks of lack of organization or attention to detail than away messages still going out after you are back in the office and available for business communications.
  2. A greeting and a closing including your name and title should be part of your away message. Business away messages should also include the time-frame you will be unavailable as well as the name, phone number and email address of someone that can be contacted in your absence.
  3. Autoresponders used to confirm receipt of an inquiry or for disseminating commonly asked for information (“Click here to get our automated message on…”) need to have an email address in the From: field that is not the same as that of the autoresponder. What is commonly used is [email protected] If you don’t mind folks hitting reply to ask questions or give you their input the from filed should note a different address than that used to send the autoresponder.
  4. When subscribing to email lists, forums, discussion boards or when simply requesting information, refrain from using any email address that may have an automated response attached to it. Virtual loops can be created that can create literally thousands of back and forth emails when an address with an autoresponder makes a request to another email address using an autoresponder. The inquirer makes their request, the request gets replied to by an autoresponder, the inquirer’s autoresponder goes back to the address that responded, which responds again and this back and forth will go on until one side or the other shuts down their autoresponders.
  5. When engaging an autoresponder away message on an email address that you know you have used to subscribe to email lists, forums, Blogs or discussion boards, be sure to unsubscribe from all those services and resubscribe when you come back. This will prevent your message from being repeatedly sent out to those subscribed services and lists. To avoid this situation all together, have an email address that you use specifically for such activities.

Autoresponders are a great tool and when used appropriately. Autoresponders can help keep others informed while freeing you up to do other things. Keep these issues in mind so that when you do use autoresponders, they are viewed as more of a benefit than an annoyance.

For more on Business Email Etiquette topics, check out my other site, BusinessEmailEtiquette.com!

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