Be Careful With Email Autoresponders – When Not to Use Them

Lately I’ve been exposed to annoying email autoresponders. I really don’t want to call people out, but I feel like I need to send a message out there so people don’t fall into this. They probably don’t fully realize what they’re doing and how it can affect people who don’t even email them. And if a couple people are doing this, odds are that more are too.

You don’t need a “permanent” autoresponder—it’s annoying!

One person has what I believe is a permanent autoresponder that’s the equivalent of an answering machine message. You know…

Hello! You’ve reached Ashley. I’m not able to come to the phone right now so please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

But for emails… so:

Hello! You’ve reached Ashley. I’m not currently at my computer but leave me a message and I’ll return your email as soon as I can.

That means EVERY SINGLE TIME I email them, I get the autoresponder. They subscribe to my newsletter, which gets sent from my email address. So every single time they get my newsletter (daily), I get an autoresponder. Since it’s so annoying, I now want to switch my emails to be sent from an address that doesn’t exist (like Or set up a special Gmail filter for this person’s email so that they automatically get sent to trash!

The very nature of an email is that it’s not something that returns an instant response (like a phone call where you pick it up or miss it), so you don’t need to tell people that you’re not at your computer right now. I never email people assuming I’ll get an instant response (if I do get an instant response, it’s a pleasant surprise).

Don’t tell people what they already know or assume. Don’t tell them you’re “not currently at your computer”, don’t tell them you’ve “received their message”, don’t tell them you’ll “reply as soon as possible”. Those are all things that people can already assume, so there’s no reason to tell them. You’re stating the obvious, but in an annoying way, because unnecessary autoresponders are just that—unnecessary.

Autoresponders should be used for long-term absences only (or short absences in a work environment). Going on vacation? Going on hiatus? Going on holiday? Away on a business trip? And do you have clients/employees who may try to contact you in the meantime? Set up an autoresponder.

Out for coffee? Out for lunch? Away for a few hours? An autoresponder is NOT needed!

Autoresponders that affect more than just sending emails

Then I encountered another person who had their primary contact email address set up as the WordPress admin email. They had comment email notifications set, so that when someone posted a new comment, they received an email about it. With these messages, the “reply-to” address is always the email of the person who left the comment. So here’s what would happen:

I comment on their blog, they get an email notification with the “reply-to” address being my email, so then the autoresponder would trigger and send me an email with their “out of office” reply message.

Well that’s one way to discourage commenting on a blog!

Be careful with your autoresponders

The main message I’m trying to send here is: be careful. Think about what your email address is connected to (WordPress?) before hooking up an autoresponder. Think about who will be receiving it. Think about the frequency of your messages. Do you really want someone to get your autoresponder after EVERY.SINGLE.EMAIL? Does that not sound annoying to you? (because it is!)

Do you use autoresponders in your email? If so, under what circumstances?

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    1. Yeah that’s correct. If you haven’t set anything up, you don’t have one. 🙂

    1. Yeah that’s definitely a possibility! I usually just put notices up on my websites if I’m not going to be around (and that’s usually how people contact me—through my website—so they should see it).

  1. Great article! I am so guilty of this. I totally forgot all about the auto-responder because I set it up last year. But as soon as I read this I was mortified and turned it off quickly. I can only imagine all of the people who received my annoying messages. Heck, I don’t even use one for my personal email so I don’t know why I set one up in the first place. Thanks so much for this info.

    Micky recently posted: Random Acts of Kindness
  2. It never even occurred to me to setup an auto responder for my blog – that’s something I’ve had to do in the workplace when I was going to be out for a day or two, but I’ve never felt my blog required that level of response. If I did something with my blog – like sales or something – then that would be different. But even then… I guess I can see someone turning it on in the hopes of being more professional, but if done wrong it can clearly have the opposite effect! Especially with the comments reply to notifications… Wow! That could really backfire and be a pain!

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Life of a Blogger | 101 Things I Hate
    1. Yeah I really don’t think blogs need email autoresponders at all. If you’re going to be away for a while, put up a message on your blog (a widget/global announcement).

      Also on a similar subject, I really don’t like how a few blogs have “autoresponders” set up for comments. Like every time you leave a comment you get an email saying something like, “Thanks for the comment!”

      1. I agree – that’s really not necessary. I wish I knew how to have it setup so that after someone leaves a comment they get a message on the post page, but an email would be annoying… you just left a comment on my blog, I’m not sitting here saying that’s annoying and have one do I? LOL that would be so bad, especially since I wouldn’t have any clue how I set it up or how to get rid of it.

        Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: Life of a Blogger | 101 Things I Hate
        1. Hahaha, no you don’t have one 😀 I’ve only actually seen it on one or two blogs, and now I can’t even remember which ones those were.

  3. Wow! I’ve only ever used the out of office notifications at my work place. I’ve never done it for my personal/blogging email. That is just way too much volume of emails to be auto responding to. I can’t believe people haven’t thought that through by now. I definitely think you should reach out to each and every person you get auto replies from on a regular basis and point the annoyance out to them. They probably don’t even realize they’re causing so many more emails to go around.

    1. Yeah I don’t think bloggers need autoresponders. It makes sense in a work environment, but it’s unnecessary for blogging!

  4. I don’t really get auto-response emails. I mean, if I don’t get a response from someone, I would assume he’s AFK right?
    Most of the time, I found them annoying. There are the one you ALWAYS receive as soon as you’re sending an email even if you’re answering the person (that’s common with company email, like “we received your request, did you check this and that first?”), there are the dumb one (“I am not there, I’ll get in touch when I’m back”), and the useless one (“We received your message and we’ll answer within 24 to 48h”).
    I never found a single one informative or helpful… I think it should probably even be considered as bad practice!

    Lily recently posted: The Troop by Nick Cutter
    1. I totally agree! As I said, the very nature of emails suggests that the person on the other end isn’t immediately there. Or at least that’s the assumption people always make. If the person DOES reply immediately, it’s usually an unexpected—but pleasant—surprise. But the first thought is always: The person probably isn’t sitting at their computer right this second, but I’m sure they’ll reply as soon as they are able. Since that’s what people assume, there’s no need to throw it in their faces in the form of an annoying auto response!

  5. Ooo, no I would not like that at all. *shivers* I used auto-respond at my office but for personal or even Caffeinated mail with smartphones and such, I can always get in touch. I am also not a fan of auto-reply for comments. Several blogs I have commented on sent an auto-response with some kind of thanks for your comment auto message.

    kimbacaffeinate recently posted: Reviving Izabel by J.A. Redmerski
  6. Problem is I have customers chase me ON THE SAME DAY they send an email asking me if I have read their email. If not the same day then the next day. I created an auto responder to confirm to people I received it, and I will get back to them soon, and to chase me up after a week if they dont hear from me. But then I get complaints from people who email me often asking to turn it off. So I cant really win. I need to focus on actual work, my job is not answering peoples emails all day, so I really need people to just wait till I reply. If its urgent call me! We have a team email that gets read by all our support people but people still insist in emailing me then chasing me up all the time.

    I have changed my wording to tell people due to the high volume of emails I receive I may not reply right away, and to email the support email. And then I have set this to only send to a user once within a week period. So hopefully people can still be informed I may not reply right away, but not so often.


  7. Hi Ashley,
    I ‘m glad I saw and read your blog post because it sure gave me an eyeopener as I wasn’t sure if I need to get an AutoResponder for my landing page.
    I bought solo ad traffic from an Affiliate marketer Entrepreneur who said I should get one but I feel I can just email people manually every once in a while and not constantly bug or annoy them as I know it’s not fun getting cluttered email. Thanks a lot!

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