“Never use a ‘do not reply’ email address” is something that we seem to have been saying for years (because we have). Today we are repeating it, hot on the heels of a real-life example, a retail mini-saga that unfolded for us with a large, well-known online retailer. The saga could have been easily downgraded to a minor glitch, had it not been for the fact that we kept receiving what seemed to be quite urgent, even strident, emails, all from a “do not reply” email address, and with no other way to respond to the email (no alternate email address, no phone number, zip, zero, zilch). It serves as a good reminder that not only can “do not reply” email addresses be incredibly frustrating (especially if some sort of alternate communication option is not provided), but they can also affect your email deliverability, especially when “no reply” email addresses are in fact non-existent email addresses.
Not All Email from a Do Not Reply Email Address is Spam
As we elaborate on in our Email Deliverability Handbook, it isn’t just spammers who send email from non-existent email addresses; completely legitimate companies mistakenly do this too, and more often than you might think. However you might not know it if that otherwise legitimate email’s spam score in the spam filter is tripped because of using a ‘do not reply’ email address (made even more likely if it’s not even a real email address on the sending system). For example, you may see a registration confirmation message which says “Do not reply to this email, instead contact us at fo*@ba*.com”, and in these cases the “from” address of that email may not even be a real email address which can actually be verified by the receiving ISP.
This is an unwise practice, guaranteed to cause you deliverability and other problems (for example someone not receiving their password reset email from you because the email address from which you sent the password reset doesn’t exist). Some receiving systems take this to be an almost sure sign of either spam or, at very least, a clueless sender, and so doing this is likely to cause you deliverability issues with those ISPs and inbox providers. Some ISPs even check at the SMTP handshake to confirm that the sending email address actually exists, and when it doesn’t, well…
Is Using a Do Not Reply Email Address Legal?
There are some instances in which using a ‘do not reply’ email address is not even legal. In the U.S., for example, it’s a violation of Federal law to falsify headers, and many (if not most) methods of sending email ‘from’ an email address that doesn’t exist at all is tantamount to falsifying headers. In the EU, using a ‘do not reply’ email address may be a violation of GDPR even if the email address technically exists.
Hopefully by now you realize that you should not be using a ‘do not reply’ email address, ever, at all, period. If you are using a ‘do not reply’ email address, and if you’re interested in alternative ways to handle whatever it was you were trying to deal with by using that ‘do not reply’ email address, MailPoet has a great blog post about what to do instead.