Out of office messages are automated/auto-reply emails that usually go something like this:
“Hi there, I’m out of the office until DAY OF WEEK, DATE, with limited access to email. If you require immediate assistance, please email […]”
But they can be so much more. You can use them as a tool to show your personality, generate leads, and entertain your audience.
Let’s look at some unique and personable out of office messages that you can use as inspiration next time you set automatic replies, for different occasions.
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Going On Vacation? Try One These Out-Of-Office Message Examples
Next time you go on vacation, try surprising your customers with an out of office message that breaks the mold. Here are four of our favorite examples for inspiration.
1. Unleash Your Inner Poet
If you’re feeling creative, here’s a unique idea for your next out of office message.
Write a poem.
Below is an example from our Product Education Manager (Note: she truly raised the bar for writing out of office messages):
2. Getting Your Point Across with a GIF
Everyone can appreciate the excitement of pushing work aside to go on vacation.
Bring this to life by linking to a GIF in your vacation responder message. Here’s an example out of office reply:
Shoot, you just missed me. I wrapped up everything at the office and am off on vacation until Monday, 12/26.
Anyway, if your question or favor can wait, great. If not, do me a favor and forward your email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll be well-treated.
Not only are you giving your recipient something they can relate to with humor, but a GIF makes your message memorable. As Moz explains, “There’s an emotional component to a great GIF that mainlines sentiments straight through the cerebral cortex.”
3. The Totally Unreachable Entertainer
When to use: If you’re absolutely unavailable but you want deliver some humor with your message.
Below is an out of office message example from our former head of marketing, for his time away at Burning Man. Notice the picture that he includes–it’s strategically placed. The picture superiority effect teaches us that including an image with text increases a person’s information recall two days later by 55%.
We miss his humor BTW — Like the sign-off at the end? Give your own email signature the same makeover in seconds.
4. Adorable Animals
Research out of Hiroshima University found that looking at animal pictures actually increases focus and productivity at work. Including a photo (or two) could help create a positive attitude toward you and increase the likelihood that they remember your email.
Here is an out of office message example that our Director of Product Marketing set up before she went on vacation.
5. Not All Heroes Wear Capes
Is someone covering for you while you’re gone? Acknowledge how awesome they are for helping you out. A few kind words can go a long way — especially if you receive an email from an important customer or prospect while you’re gone.
When you compliment your coworker who will receive requests in your absence, it has a two-fold effect.
- It makes that person look trustworthy in the eyes of the reader (and likely strengthens your working relationship)
- It shows your reader that you’re kind-spirited and a team player
Here’s one such out-of-office email example (we received it from a blog subscriber in response to an email we sent):
6. Show Them With Emojis
What happens when you start watching a movie or you flip a station on TV that ends up being in a different language?
It’s the first thing you notice, right?
Emojis are officially a language unto themselves, and they’ll help you catch the attention of whoever has sent you an email.
Don’t stop with the perfect out-of-office message. Make all your emails home runs.
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Quick refresher: the recipient of your out of office email wants to hear from you. This gives you an easy opportunity to generate leads, get a laugh, and brighten days.
Two Out-of-Office Messages For Lead Generation
You’ve got a fifty-fifty chance that your out of office message will be read by someone who already knows you, is actively reading email, and wants something from you. Sounds like a great time to share content that helps build trust and drive more sales.
7. Sign Up For Our Course
Below is an out of office message example from our own team, linking to our free 7-day course on sales prospecting. Unsure of what resources you should be linking to? Try checking in with your marketing team about new collateral worth highlighting.
8. Working The Sales Funnel
We love this example from Upserve’s Director of Marketing, Jesse Noyes. He knows his audience, anticipates what people are emailing about, and provides lead-generating content that offers immediate answers to questions.
Business Trip Out of Office Message Examples
Traveling for work might be a standard part of your job, but it doesn’t mean your email can’t be unique.
9. The Conference Connection
If you’re traveling to a conference that you expect many of your contacts to be at, too, then use your out of office message as a networking opportunity.
Here’s a great example from our Sales Consultant Blair Lineham:
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10. The In-Cognito Cold Email Formula
Remember the AIDA cold email formula? It also works as an out-of-office reply by captivating your reader’s attention all the way through to the call to action.
Here’s a great example of how this works from Ann Handley of MarketingProfs. Ann begins with a rhetorical question that grabs her reader’s attention and builds interest with her subsequent details and fun fact. She then creates desire with the way she describes the conference and lists a call to action with the conference website and a link to her Instagram account.
Pro tip: To make sure you don’t forget to set an OOO for your next confirmed trip(s), take 5 seconds to schedule a Send Later email to remind yourself. Schedule it for your last day of the office, and we’ll place it at the top of your inbox at the best time for you.
Just Plain Funny Out of Office Examples
These final examples are purely for entertainment. While a little humor can go a long way with building rapport with your network, they may not work for everyone. Use your best judgment :).
11. The Literary Allusion
12. Fun Facts
Have some interesting facts up your sleeve? This one’s for you.
— Brian A. Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) July 11, 2014
13. The Danny Tanner
Remember: Images (especially those in color and with people) will make your email memorable. Our recent post on how to write a damn good email signature focused on this. So did this Danny Tanner aficionado.
— Jess Smith (@jezzicasmith) February 5, 2015
14. Robots Rule
TL;DR Robots > Humans.
Best out-of-office auto email reply ever. pic.twitter.com/OY66YEV28n
— Jim Julius (@jjulius) July 31, 2014
Free For The Taking: 8 Out-Of-Office Email Templates
Ready to write your own, but not wanting to start from scratch? There are 8 examples to copy and paste (then customize) in this OOO template doc. Want to file more than one for the future? Good news: you can stash them right in your Gmail or Outlook inbox.
Over To You: What’s Your Go-To Out Of Office Message?
If you’re up for sharing, we’d love to see your own favorites. What can we learn from your experience? Tweet us: @Yesware.
Originally published October 16, 2018, updated October 2020.