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Hello? Is There Anybody Out There?

August 4, 2008  

There's almost nothing more frustrating than receiving a business email that says, "Please do not reply to this message as replies to this email address are not read," but offers no other options for those who want to respond.

"If it's important enough for you to send to me," says Seth Godin in a post at his blog, "it may be important enough for me to write back."

And while he acknowledges that wading through email takes time and money, he argues that each response represents a valuable opportunity to engage your customers.

The first step, he says, is to be sure your permission-based message is anticipated and welcome—you'll cut down on annoyed replies if your list is receptive to communication.

Beyond that, here's Godin's advice for handling people who hit the reply button on messages that aren't designed for replies:

  • Create a dedicated "reply to" address that goes to a real person who actively responds to the question or comment.
  • At the bottom of your message, give a Web address where customers can offer their feedback through an online form, and spell out the "reply to" address for those who want to send a note directly.

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