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Help Your 'From' Line Help You

Thursday, April 19, 2012 -
Everybody worries about getting the subject line right in an email, but that's only half of the equation. Equally important is your "from" or sender line – the field that indicates who sent the email. Here's a quick tip on how you can integrate your sender and subject lines to help readers identify you quickly in the inbox.

Recent research – ours and others, including the Pew Internet and American Life Project – shows 50%+ of recipients use the "from" line by itself or with the subject line to decide whether to open or trash an email message.

If you get it right, your recipients will recognize you instantly in both their inboxes and bulk folders. This helps build trust and credibility and boosts deliverability. Get it wrong, and recipients will delete your emails or report them as spam.

And, you have to do it in 16 characters or less, because that's about all the space most email clients give you.

Avoid these email formats:

  • An email address only, such as, or However, some email clients still list only the email address. So, pick one that shows the email's purpose and your company or brand name:,
  • A person's name, unless it's somebody you can reasonably expect your readers will know
  • Department name (Marketing, Customer Support)
  • Your company's full legal name: Big-Name Company Inc., LLC

Use this 3-step strategy to create and test an effective "from" line:

  1. Choose a "from" line that uses the name that aligns with the mailings your readers requested, such as your company, a brand if it's more relevant to your messages, a newsletter or email series.
  2. Configure your list-management software to show your chosen "from" line instead of a default one such as the email address you use to send your messages or receive bounces or replies.
  3. Test it with the EmailLabs subject-line tool that also shows how major email clients will display your "from" line. See whether you get your major idea across or if the email client truncates it in a crucial place.

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