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Don't send emails that look like they're phishing

Over at Campaign Monitor, they're noticing that some of the latest email programs have phishing detection built right in. That's a good thing - but there's an important and easy trap to fall into.

First, what's "phishing"? It's when scammers and con artists send you an email that looks like it's from a legitimate company - but the link they send you takes you to an identity theft website.

Both Mozilla Thunderbird and AOL 9.0 now feature phishing scam detection that will impact on how you design your email creative. To determine if an email may be a phishing scam, the email client looks for a link in your HTML campaign where the display text is a URL. If the displayed link is different from the actual URL, the user is alerted.

In short, they use this HTML:

<a href=http://www.somewherebad.com> http://www.somewheregood.org</a>

And here's the rub: Many email broadcasting programs, including our very own MandateMail, change links just like that in order to track clickthru rates.

<a href=http://www.trackingsystem.com?gohere= somewheregood.org> http://www.somewheregood.org</a>

So, here's the solution: Never, ever, ever use the URL as the display link (http://....). Instead, use real text - y'know, in English. Like this:

<a href=http://www.somewheregood.org> Visit Our Good Website!</a>

Besides, that's friendlier and more helpful to the audience anyway.

Posted on October 31, 2005 in
email strategy.