Let's start with a simple premise: email works both ways. If you send email, you will also receive email. We all know this, but many people forget that when they are doing email marketing. But there are many reasons why you need to monitor the replies to your email marketing, such as:
  • List Hygiene - You may be receiving unsubscribe requests, which brings me to...
  • Compliance - CAN-SPAM (as well as many other nations' laws) require you monitor replies for unsubscribes. So it's not only a good idea, but also legally required (see a post on CAN-SPAM updates).
  • An Open Channel - Your recipients may be trying to rave about your emails or give you good ideas, but you won't know if you don't listen.
  • Because You Should - Out of common courtesy, you should be listening to what they have to say back to you.
At Bronto, we provide a full-featured reply management tool to make this process quite easy. You can take advantage of this by checking the Enable Reply Tracking option when sending a message. Once enabled, your replies will come into Bronto instead of your inbox. You will also be able to take advantage of the tools we offer to manage those replies.

Automatically Process Unsubscribe Requests

To turn on automatic handling of unsubscribe requests, go to the Home->Settings->Replies. Before you turn this feature on, you will want to tweak the words we look for in the subject line to identify unsubscribe requests. It's important to make sure you aren't using these words in your subject lines, because if you were, every reply would be identified as an unsubscribe.

Once you have had this option on for a little bit, you can enable automatic deletion of unsubscribe replies as well. It's a good idea to keep them around for a bit to ensure that we aren't catching any other replies as unsubscribes.

With Bronto automatically unsubscribing contacts, you will save some time and effort, but it doesn't mean you no longer have to look at replies. There will always be replies that we don't catch or that just require a personal response.

Keeping The Clutter Down

It also happens that lots of other emails end up in the replies inbox. These come mainly from two sources. The first is automated replies, which are most often 'Out of Office' replies. The other type is spam, which is most often caused by your recipients inboxes being harvested by spam bots (learn more about spam bots).

Both of these can be a major annoyance when trying to manage replies. That's why we made it so you can enable the deletion of Automated Replies and Spam messages.

Again, it's important to first test out our automated message identification for a short period of time. To do this, all you have to do is perform a couple of sends, then go into your replies and look for the symbols that denote spam replies and automated replies.

Once you feel comfortable that we aren't catching false positives, you can turn the automatic deletion on.

Walking Through The Rest

Even with all the help we provide, you'll still need to review your replies on a regular basis. You can quickly unsubscribe a contact while you're viewing a reply. This will also delete that reply for you and move you along to the next request, thus allowing you to quickly dispatch a large number of replies in a short period of time.

I hope I have shown how important replies are as a part of email marketing. They provide a simple mechanism for your recipients to unsubscribe, get in touch with you, or even just vent. Managing them can be simple and painless, if you use the tools at your disposal.