SBS Mailbag: Tell Me About That ‘Thank You’ E-mail

Filed in Blogging by Matt McGee on June 17, 2008 1 Comment

When you leave your first comment here on SBS, I send out a “thank you” email that goes like this:

Hi (your name here),

Just wanted to drop a quick note to say THANKS for leaving your first comment on Small Business SEM. I always like to see new voices speaking up on the blog.

The easiest way to keep in touch with me and Small Business SEM is by subscribing to my feed. Any feedreader will do, just use this feed URL and you should be all set:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/SmallBusinessSem

Thanks again for your first comment! I look forward to many more from you in the future.

Be well,
Matt McGee

No big deal, right? Actually, it is a big deal to a lot of people. I get a lot of emails from people replying to that email. Some people just write back to say thanks for the note I sent them. Others write to continue the conversation from the blog post they commented on. But most of the emails are like the one that came in today from Mark P., who left a comment in my recent post on Google products. Here’s Mark’s question:

Your e-mail is a nice touch. Is this an automated system, or how do you manage your first-comment e-mails?

I’m going to answer Mark in this SBS Mailbag post. :)

First, Mark et al – thanks for your kinds words. It’s nice to get positive feedback to those emails. I’d love to claim that I have time to write each one personally … no, actually, it’s a Good Thing that I don’t have time to write those manually.

The e-mail is auto-generated, and is made possible by a WordPress plugin called Comment Relish. It’s brain-dead simple to use: Install and activate the plugin, then use the WP Admin interface to enable it, set your preferences, and write the email you want to send. Like this:

Comment Relish screenshot

So, it’s easy to install and I think it makes a nice outreach to new visitors/commenters. But, not everybody likes it. Here’s an old discussion from some bloggers who hate it. Why?

1. No one likes getting automated email.
2. Looks like a desperate attempt to publicize your blog.
3. Not a good first impression.

My replies:

1. If the email you send seems generic and automated, you’re not using the plugin correctly. Write a nice email in your regular voice and you should be fine.
2. Well, we all want readers, don’t we? And again, if the email you’re sending looks or sounds “desperate,” you’re not using the plugin correctly. Write a better email.
3. My experience suggests otherwise. Again, write a better Thank You email and you might make a better first impression.

Before you install Comment Relish, think about your readers and whether they might like getting such an email.

One other note: Chris Garrett apparently had a problem with this plugin and Dreamhost, his hosting provider. I also use Dreamhost and have had no such problems. If you read the comments of that post, the problem apparently happens on blogs that get a ton of comments — it causes server load issues. I don’t have that problem … yet. :) Someone links in the comments to a different version of Comment Relish; I haven’t used it and can’t speak to it one way or another.

So, there ya go. Thanks for the question, Mark!

Have a question you’d like answered? Email me today!

Comments (1)

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  1. martijn says:

    Nice informative post. I’m using comment-relish myself as well. But for those people who are really bothered about those email might think of a different solutions as well. There’s a another plugin called comment-redirect, which sends first time commenters to a page of your choosing. This could ofcourse be a special thankyou page.
    you can find the plugin here: http://yoast.com/wordpress/comment-redirect/

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