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DELIVTERMS: Friendly From


DELIVTERMS:
The weekly series here on Spam Resource that defines deliverability terminology. Today, I'm going to talk about the Friendly From.

What is the friendly from? It's not quite its own separate header, but it is a field in your from header. It is the text that goes next to your email address in the from header.

If the from address header in my email looks like this:
From: Al Iverson <aiversontestmail@wombatmail.com>

That means that the from address is aiversontestmail@wombatmail.com and the "friendly from" is "Al Iverson."

Some systems enclose the friendly from in quotes, like this:
From: "Al Iverson, not a lawyer" <aiversontestmail@wombatmail.com>

This helps prevent formatting glitches in some cases, like if you include a comma in your friendly from. In that case, if you don't put the whole thing in quotes, there's a good chance recipients could end up with a very funky looking from address, depending on how their mail application or webmail parses it. When it doubt, wrap it all in double quotes.

Pro tip: the from address field is often referred to by email specialists as the  5322.From, because it is specified in RFC 5322. While the 5321.From or MFROM refers to the data in the return-path header, as specified in RFC 5321. (Read more on the topic of the different from addresses here.)

Even better pro tip: Did you know? If you put an @ in your friendly from, some email clients will not show the friendly from -- they're worried about the potential to mislead recipients. They don't want you to be able to fake an email address visually in the friendly from. Thanks to Alessandra Souers for pointing out that this applies to Apple's iOS email client.

For marketing senders, what to put in the friendly from is an important thing to think about. People have very strong opinions about whether or not you should send marketing mail "as the brand" or "as the person." I lean more toward the "send as the brand" side of things, overall.

I tell people, ask yourself, do you know who the CEO of Pepsi Cola is? And do you think all of Pepsi's subscribers know who that person is? I don't think they do. I think in that instance, it's very clear that people know the brand, not the person. Meaning, if Pepsi ever asked me, I'd tell them to put "Pepsi Cola" in the friendly from, not "Ramon Laguarta" -- though I'm sure that Ramon is a great guy.

That is not "one size fits all" advice, though! There are scenarios where it makes more sense to send "as the person," so be sure to think it through. But I suggest that you start by asking yourself, what will subscribers recognize? Because if you get it wrong, spam complaints will go up and positive responses will go down.

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