Email sender name is the single most influential factor in whether recipients will open your email. It’s your brand reputation, condensed into under 200 pixels. Yet email sender name best practices are often overlooked.
This blog post helps you understand why, in email marketing, sender name matters. It lays out all current industry best practices. After reading it, you’ll have the information you need to decide which email sender name best practices fit your brand and why.
What is a sender name in email marketing?
Sender name (also: from name) is the name displayed in your contacts’ inboxes. It’s different from the sender address (also: from address or from email), which includes an @ and a domain name. A from name displays 20-30 characters, depending on email client, browser, and device.
The four facets of sender name
It’s easy to underestimate the role the sender name plays in boosting open rates. After all, as an email marketer, obsessing over subject lines and click-through rates is kind of in your job description, right? Why worry about the from name? How can it affect your KPIs?
Here’s why: A survey of American consumers found that 42% of people look at the sender name first when deciding whether to open an email.
If they don’t like what they see there, that subject line you so carefully crafted doesn’t stand a chance at enticing an open.
42% of consumers look at the sender name first when deciding whether to open an email.
The good news about sender name is that, unlike a subject line, you don’t need to change it with every email. In fact, you shouldn’t.
But you DO need to put time into optimizing it before you settle down with the variant(s) that work for your brand.
Why is sender name so important? Because it tells your recipients who you are. The 4 components that make up a successful from name are trustworthiness, brand recognition, consistency, and segmentation. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
The initial subconscious question recipients are asking when scanning their inbox is “Is this legit?”
Your contacts look at the sender name first because it tells them if your email is spam or not. They take less than a second to make that decision.
One simple way to pass the initial trustworthiness test is to use your legitimate company name. This is pretty much a no-brainer, and there’s no need to overthink things here.
But, whatever you do, make sure your sender name displays a real name, whether it be the company’s name or an employee’s name, not just an email address. Your contacts are expecting to encounter a person or company name in this field, not something impersonal like firstname.lastname@example.org!
2️⃣ Brand Recognition
Trustworthiness is just the initial building block for a successful sender name. Brand recognition comes next.
After asking themselves if you’re legit, your contacts are now wondering, “Do I know you?”
You want your sender name to evoke a resounding “Heck, yeah!” in response to that question.
That’s why companies almost always include the brand name in the from name itself.
Even if you want to personalize, for example, that email newsletter you’re sending by letting everyone know it’s from “Mara,” make sure you tell them it’s from “Mara at Sendinblue” so brand recognition is immediate.
However, if your sender name is longer than 20–30 characters, it will be truncated in some email client displays. The better your brand reputation is with your contacts, the less of a problem this is. But either way, make sure you put the most important information first in your from name!
Consistency complements and reinforces brand recognition, which is why it’s the third element for winning the email sender name game.
Once you’ve found a certain sender name formula that generates opens, stick with it. You want brand recognition to be immediate and subconscious.
If you’ve got these first three building blocks down, you’re good. You’re putting forth a trustworthy sender name that invites immediate brand recognition.
And we just told you to be consistent – find what works and stick with it.
But now we’re going to refine that advice.
Consistency helps bake the cake, but segmentation is the icing on top.
The different types of emails your company sends should have different sender names. This will help your contacts instantaneously categorize them. Here are some examples:
- Send transactional emails, such as order confirmation emails, from “Orders at Company”
- Send newsletters from an individual employee, “Sam at Company”
- Send straightforward ad campaigns from the company name, “Company”
Consistency helps bake the sender name cake, but segmentation is the icing on top.
Industry best practices for sender name in email marketing
To better understand when and how to segment, let’s look at the four most popular email marketing formulas for from name and see which situations they fit best.
The most common sender name is simply your company name.
Knowing how important sender name is for establishing trustworthiness and brand reputation, you can understand why many brands choose this.
As you can see from these examples, it’s especially fitting for the e-commerce sector and all B2C sales campaigns.
Your customers signed up for your email list because they love (or are at least curious about) your brand. So put what they love front and center: your brand name.
Alternatively, you can send emails from “Team Company.” But don’t use the word “team” if it will add character length that truncates the brand name in the display field.
Most B2Cs use their brand name as the sender name. It’s putting what their customers love front and center!
Sending from “Team Company” conveys the sense of the people working together behind the brand. It adds a personal touch.
First Name at Company
Another way to convey a personal touch is to send from a specific employee using the pattern: First Name at/from/@ Company.
This is especially popular in the B2B sector. Here’s why it’s a good idea:
- B2B sales is relationship selling. An email sent from an individual sales or marketing team member serves to build personalized relationships between you and your leads.
- Using employee first names gives you the chance to introduce several members of your team. It shows new leads or clients who you are. Yes, you’re real people, and you care about them!
- First names are personal and short!
Using the formula “First Name at Company” boosts relationship selling.
For some, using a first name can feel too impersonal, not formal enough for your sector. You might, then, have the impulse to send an email from “Full Name at Company.”
Be warned, though! Unless your full name is short and sweet like “Mel C,” using full name plus company name will inevitably cut off the company name in most email clients.
If your full name will be recognizable to your contacts on its own (for example, if you’re a thought leader or an editor-in-chief), then you might be able to pull it off.
But otherwise, don’t risk cutting the company name from the display at the expense of the full name. Especially for Joseph Blow from the sales team.
Remember, your brand name is the most important aspect of your sender name!
So … when ARE full names appropriate?
When you’re an Influencer, industry thought leader, or five-star Michelin chef.
Ok, that list is a teensy bit limited.
Basically, if your full name IS your brand, then you should be using that as your sender name.
Full names are popular with entrepreneurs who have their own newsletters.
If you’re marketing yourself and your specialized knowledge – whether that be writing tips or medieval leather-working tutorials – then put your full name front and center.
Genre / Service Type
The fourth common formula for sender name is to let your subscribers know what type of message or service the email contains.
Some examples of this:
- Bank Name Webbill Pay (a transactional email service telling me I had a bill due)
- Google Location Sharing (reminding me I was sharing my location with someone)
- TransferWise Rate Alerts (sharing this morning’s EUR-USD exchange rate)
For large companies, using a sender name that differentiates one type of email from another reveals key information about the message itself.
The sender name can include the brand name (always!) plus an additional piece of information giving more details about what’s inside.
Use these for alerts, briefings, transactional emails, and any mailings consumers expect to be automated.
The key phrasing there is that your contacts “expect” these emails to be automated.
Use the sender name field for the type of message you’re sending if you’re a large company sending mailings the customers expect to be automated!
Your email marketing will include many automated emails that are automated but still feel personalized. Use first names or company names for these.
The brand that breaks the rules and gets away with it
Ever received an email from email@example.com?
What would you do if you did?
File a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org?
What would you do if you receive an email from email@example.com?
There’s one brand with successful email marketing that breaks most of the rules above. But they do so cleverly and consistently, which is why it works for them.
A from name case study
Take a look at these sender names on Shinesty campaigns.
Go ahead and look a little more closely:
Kind of crazy right?
Let’s start with the rule they’re breaking:
#1 Trustworthiness: These sender names violate all the rules of trustworthiness established above.
Do they look professional? Do they feel trustworthy? Here’s all the ways you can answer “no” to those questions:
- They use lowercase letters
- They formulate their address as if it’s an email address (which we tell you above to NEVER do because it looks haphazard and unprofessional)
- The company name isn’t always visible in the sender name field
- Perhaps the biggest violation of trustworthiness is the occasional crass language used in the sender name field
And yet, this works incredibly well for Shinesty. (And they’ve got the marketing awards to back up their success.)
Their brand character is the in-your-face rebel, who scoffs at the idea of professionalism in any context, including marketing. They pride themselves on selling “the most outlandish collection of clothing the world has ever seen.”
They’ve taken a marketing feature most people don’t even stop to think about (the from name), and turned it into another venue for outlandish branding.
They’re also smart about how they do this:
- They use lowercase letters and a lack of spacing to signal informality
- This also gives them more pixel space in the display field
In short, their brand makes a point that it doesn’t agree with traditional ideas of trustworthiness and marketing professionalism. They’re showing you how they’re throwing tradition out the window to do something else.
#2 Brand recognition and #3 consistency: They run the risk that their readers won’t recognize them at first. Especially with their run-on names that sometimes cut off the company name.
The first time I received an email from them with the brand name cut off, I’ll admit, I almost deleted it as spam.
But that moment of disjunct drew my attention to their silly use of the sender name field. And then I opened their email and laughed out loud.
Eventually, I – like the rest of their audience – began expecting silly sender names from them.
This is how they build brand recognition – by training their subscribers to expect their particular brand of outlandishness. And by doing so in a consistent way.
So, in fact, they’re following the dictates of brand recognition and consistency. They craft their sender name according to a specific, repeated formula – firstname.lastname@example.org – and that’s how they create brand recognition.
#4 Segmentation: Shinesty is segmenting in their own way.
They’re adapting the sender name to each campaign to more thoroughly brand their messaging.
With their silly names, they’re using the sender name field to convey additional information about the topic of that particular email campaign.
The Email Marketing Takeaway
Shinesty’s marketing is not for everyone. And they’re OK with that. Because what they do works for their target group.
Importantly, however you feel about Shinesty’s brand of marketing, the undeniable takeaway is that breaking the rules can work well as long as you’re consistent and clever about it.
Go ahead and break all these rules! As long as you do so in a consistent manner that’s in line with your brand voice.
Throw best practices out the window if you’ve got something consistent to do instead that’s in line with your brand!
Wrap up: choosing the sender name that fits your brand and message
Whether you go for the classic “Company Name” in the sender name field, “First Name from Company Name,” or another (perhaps zany!) alternative, make sure you know ….
- Why you’re choosing that formulation
- How the formulation fits your brand
- If the sender name is short enough to fit most email client displays or where the display will cut off (after the important bits!)
Your sender name will be the first thing your contacts look at. It’s one of the most important aspects of your email marketing strategy so make sure to get it right!
For more content like this, sign up for our newsletter above and follow us on Twitter!