[MARKETING LIFE] How out-of-office replies are actually a marketing tool

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You might be interested in this if:

  • You work in an agency
  • Clients hire you for projects
  • You get a lot of email

Every once in a while I head to a conference and I see people tweeting: I would turn my out of office replies on but who can actually stay off email for days at a time anymore. 

And I totally agree with that point. I typically do not stay off email for days or even hours at a time. When I have an all-day meeting that actually keeps me off  email I have so many emails that responding to them is basically going to be the evening activity. Fun! ??

So maybe there still is a place for out-of-office replies. No. 1, they do let people know that your response might be delayed. This is especially helpful when most of the time your response is super fast.

But there’s also a marketing reason for them: people see and notice that you are busy with work projects and that you are in demand.

Of course, that assumes that the messages  are for work trips and not just continuous vacations. Continues vacations just means you get a lot of vacations. 

So when I travel for work or pleasure or a combination of the two I turn my replies on. I let people know that I’m traveling and sometimes I even mention where I’m heading. Like if I’m going to a conference I’ll share a link to a conference website or at least say which conference and where it is.

Those kind of messages really serve two purposes:

  • The traditional one: to let people know your response might be delayed 
  • Marketing reason: it markets your projects and services and how in demand the services are.

I started noticing this when people started commenting about my replies. Prospects and clients actually said how in demand the service seemed to be.

So now when I travel I set up the out-of-office replies. For my Gmail it typically looks like this:

Thanks for your email. I’m traveling this week, but will respond as quickly as possible. 

– Christoph

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Christoph Trappe



I’ve actually had people reply to my reply with comments and questions about my blog, speaking availability and more.

And the out-of-office reply, even though I don’t have it on when I’m not traveling, does answer many of the frequently asked questions I get emailed about. So it’s useful from that perspective as well.

Of course, this technique helps  if people can hire you for services. It wouldn’t work in some professions obviously and for some jobs.

We already know that email marketing in the traditional sense is not dead and out-of-office replies are really just another way of email marketing.

So as you’re considering whether or not to use this tactic think about your business goals. And your related  marketing and communications goals. If out-of-office emails can help support them do it. If they don’t consider other techniques.