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Don’t use on emails

It should be no surprise that if you’re using “” as your email address, you’re leaving information on the table.

Here are a few ways you can benefit by using a real email address (and even encouraging people to respond).

Users don’t like monologues from machines

Sending email from signals to a user that you don’t care about them. It’s a one-way relationship that allows you to blast them with email and them to do nothing. At a previous startup, every email we sent was from This made users happy – especially when they would write to us and one of the helpful people would respond.

Offer Help (and apologies) Along The Way

When you try to do something and fail, it’s the worst feeling. When users fail, they feel like they’ve done something wrong, or they’re too stupid to understand how to accomplish their task. One of the biggest opportunities for apps is to offer help to users as they’re using your site.

One of my best real-world examples of this executed well is Virgin Atlantic. I was flying from Heathrow to JFK and tried to check in online (it was just released) and the site had an issue. When I arrived at the check-in desk at the airport, the Virgin employee said:

“Mr. Nederkoorn, I see you tried to check in online, but it didn’t work for you? We’re very sorry about that. I’ve given you a complimentary upgrade to Upper Class”.

This turned Virgin Atlantic from a lackluster experience into my preferred airline.

This experience for a user can be replicated (and automated) online.

  • Offer help when a user doesn’t finish setting up their profile
  • Offer help if a user starts, but never finishes, uploading a video.
  • Offer help if a user creates an account but never uses it.

All of these emails should reduce cancelations of your app. But if a user does cancel…

Find out why they left

When a user cancels, it’s a great opportunity to ask them what went wrong. We’ve had success in the past with an automatic email from the CEO asking for feedback like this:


Hi Colin,

I’m Steve, CEO of Microcorp. We’ve deleted your account and are sorry to see you go. I wanted to reach out to you personally to ask for feedback about why you deleted. Did you have unmet expectations? What can we do to improve the site?

Thank you for taking the time to help us get better.


CEO, Microcorp

There are tremendous opportunities beyond monthly marketing emails. Start a dialogue with users by using an email address they can reply to. Reach out to them at key points in their experience on your site. Both alone and in concert, those two changes will improve activation and retention.