Anyone with today’s technology can send an email anywhere, at any time. But you’re not just anyone – you’re a hard-working someone who is going on vacation this summer, and your eyes could use a break from your digital mailbox. Before you trade in your laptop for your flip flops, there’s one vital and innovative mechanism you absolutely must remember to activate before you take to the skies: your email’s autoresponder!
Otherwise known as the automatic “out-of-office” response, an autoresponder is a helpful way to let emailing humans know that you will not be checking your Inbox for a while. Not sure what to say in yours? We can help with that.
Things To Avoid In The Autoresponderverse
It can be tempting to flesh out a long out-of-office response with explanations and details, but it’s best not to. Keep your message short and sweet. You can share your personal experiences when you get back. A fair warning — here is a terrible sample out-of-office message you should avoid at all costs:
Hi. I’m out of the office again because I’m going on vacation to New York City, which is crazy because I’ve never been there before and there’s got to be so much to see. 1.6 million people crammed on a single island – how does that work?! And where can I get one of those Statue of Liberty figurines for my desk?! I have so many questions. I’m planning on going to Central Park, some museums, cafes, pizza places, and doing some pigeon watching, so I’ll be very busy and unresponsive. I’ll write to you when I’m back in the office on May 5th, 1955!
Yikes! Did you notice the return date is in the past? And the population of NYC (8.4 million) is grossly understated. This person wrote too much, some of which is incorrect (not a good reflection on this person’s and his/her company’s reputation), and not enough of the important stuff. Thankfully, we’ve written some tips to help you craft a better autoresponder message. Here’s where you can start.
How To Write Your Out-of-Office Message
Start With The Basics
Your out-of-office responder should be professional and have the basics: your away notice, the date that you’ll return, an emergency number (if applicable), and a trusted coworker's address for emailers to contact in your absence. If you don’t have a coworker to take on your incoming emails, suggest in your autoresponder for emailers to visit your company’s website. Then, look out for your response when you return. Here is an example for reference:
Hello. I am currently out of the office and will return on (the date of your return). For emergencies, you may call 555.5555. For other inquiries, I encourage you to fill out our contact form at example.com. Thank you.
A helpful tip is to read the first draft of your out-of-office response. Read it again. Then, return to your computer and read it once more before activating your autoresponder. Check it out for accuracy by sending yourself a test message after activating your autoresponder. Typos and incorrect information can scare away prospects – and nobody wants that to happen!
Personalize Your Salutations
Who will be emailing you while you’re away? Your coworkers? Your clients? Let the tone of your response be proper to your connections. If you were born with a funny bone, consider closing your autoresponder with a clever sign off, like “from your friendly neighborhood email-robot”.
Here’s a funny example from HubSpot.com:
Hey there — I’ve got good and bad news for you. Let’s go with the bad first.
The bad news is that I’m out of office. The good news is that I'm out of the office and enjoying elotes in Cancún.
If you can’t wait for a response, my colleague will be happy to take care of you. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be back on February 7th.
You can also reference pop culture, as done in this example shared on Grammarly.com:
Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.
That’s where I’ll be for the next couple of days, giving my last out-of-town keynote of the year (yay!). I don’t know if there really is a Field of Dreams, but I’ll be in search of it in between checking emails and getting back to you as quickly as I can.
If you need something while I’m stuck in a cornfield, you can send a note to my assistant, and she will be happy to help you.
The purpose of an autoresponder is to bring peace-of-mind to those who’d like to contact you while you’re away. If your clients are old school, they may not appreciate a pun as much. That would be e-barrassing.
Whether you’re a popular business leader, or the smartest person in your company (or both), we can guarantee at least one living organism will email you while you’re out-of-office on vacation. This is your time to kick back and reboot – not respond to emails and troubleshoot. You’ll want to ensure that you don’t lose your momentum with incoming clients or leads. You’ll need to let your company know how long you’ll be away and how your team can help you. And most importantly, you’ll be grateful to your out-of-office responder when you return well-rested. Don’t forget to turn off your autoresponder when you get back to work.
Does your company need help with writing out-of-office responders? We have incredibly talented copywriters who can help. 5Points Creative is a full-service firm specializing in marketing, advertising, digital, branding, and communications. We really want you to go on vacation — and enjoy time away from work. We're here to help.