Over the past few years, local companies have become increasingly reluctant to include links in the marketing emails they send their customers.

That’s hardly surprising. Many phishing scams work by getting victims to click on links to what appear to be legitimate sites, where they’re asked to input personal and account information.

As a result, some companies have issued a blanket ban on including links in the emails they send to customers. Additionally, they’ve embarked on extensive consumer education drives explaining to customers that they’ll never include links in their emails.

Unfortunately, this means that companies are missing out on a powerful marketing feature that would easily allow them to measure the impact of marketing campaigns and promotions.

File picture: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee/AP

Perhaps the most frustrating thing is it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies can safely send out emails that include links. 

Here’s how:

1.Use them judiciously

When it comes to email marketing, links are one of the most powerful weapons you have in your arsenal. They allow you to track and measure the success of a campaign or promotion in a way that open rates simply do not.

Bearing that in mind, companies should only include links in marketing emails where they need to direct consumers to their website, current promotions, and deals. For all other kinds of email, it’s probably safer to stay link-free.


2.Don’t ask for personal information

It should go without saying that a company which includes links in emails, should never direct their customers to a page where they have to fill in personal or account information. Doing so would simply make them even more vulnerable to spoofed emails and phishing scams.

3.Be consistent

Whether you choose to use links in your emails or leave them out, it’s important that you implement your policy consistently.

Including links in the emails from the marketing team in one department and excluding them from the emails that another department sends out will only result in confusion for consumers.

File image

4.Be communicative

It goes without saying that if a company is going to consistently implement a policy, it should communicate this policy clearly across the organisation. With the organisation fully briefed, it’s also vital that the company communicate to all its customers what its policy is when it comes to links in emails.

This communication should be as clear and easy to understand as possible and should also be spread across as many of the company’s official marketing channels as possible.

5.Stay alert

Email scammers are increasingly sophisticated in their approach. With the tools at their disposal, they can sometimes fool even the savviest of consumers. If a company changes its policy to only include links to certain emails, you can be certain that scammers will find a way to convincingly spoof them.

Companies, therefore, need to constantly be alert to any new forms of scam. Here again, communication across the organisation and with customers can be key to shutting down threats before they have a chance to become widespread.

6.Educate

Email fraud, no matter what form it takes, is a people problem, not a technology problem. And while there will always be a certain percentage of people that take unnecessary risks when it comes to email, education can play an important role in mitigating the issue.

Companies should, therefore, use every possible opportunity to educate their customers on how to avoid becoming victims of e-mail fraud. 

When it comes to including links in emails, the messaging may be slightly more nuanced than issuing a blanket ban on them, but not overly so. Given the marketing potential including links opens up, it’s also surely an investment worth making.   

Ross Sibbald is Executive Head of Striata Marketing Solutions and writes in his own capacity. 

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE