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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict telos's Avatar
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    Question Is it bad if the href differs from link text in HTML email?

    I'm not sure exactly where to post this, but I assume someone viewing this section might have experience in this.

    I'm sending out an HTML newsletter to double opt-in subscribers. I need to be able to track which links are getting clicked. So, I'm putting in pseudo/tracking links in the href and the actual end URL as the link text.

    Code HTML4Strict:
    Example: <a href="http://example.com/linktracker/dhs93udhs873gsj63j7628/">http://example.com/my/actual/url/</a>
    The link http://example.com/linktracker/dhs93udhs873gsj63j7628/ will actually redirect to http://example.com/my/actual/url/ once it's logged the visit.

    My question is, does anyone know if this is frowned upon by email service providers. I'm wondering if it gives you a higher spam rating or if they might strip it out.

    My tests appear to be OK so far. Does anyone else have any experience with this?

    I've read most of the articles here on sending newsletters, but none of them really mention this. Maybe it's a non-issue.

    Thanks, all!

  2. #2
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    I don't see why it would be flagged as spam, a URL is a URL, it isn't like they would be able to differentiate between the tracking code or a query string.

  3. #3
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Any sensible person would hover over the link in the email before clicking it to see where it really points to. If the address pointed to is different then a lot of people will decide it is a security issue and will delete the email without clicking on the link. Others will copy and paste the address from in the email itself rather than clicking it and will therefore bypass your tracking code completely.

    If you are going to place something different as the link then make it plain text, not a different link address.
    Stephen J Chapman

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    <input name="html5" type="text" required pattern="^$">

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict telos's Avatar
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    I want to show the actual end URL, because it will be of significance, like example.com/requested/info/ or example.com/free/gift/ etc.

    I'm curious because I get this fake Paypal emails all the time there the link text is paypal.com/account/ but the href is paypal.com.fh38s.ch/jf83ksd/i839duk - I'm sure email providers have to catch on to that eventually. Although maybe they only care if it's a different domain completely.

    I guess I should also do some split-testing to see if more people click the link that points to the text location, instead of the click tracker. I always look at the link before clicking, so maybe others do to.

  5. #5
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by telos View Post
    I'm curious because I get this fake Paypal emails all the time there the link text is paypal.com/account/ but the href is paypal.com.fh38s.ch/jf83ksd/i839duk
    That is one way of telling that an email is fake and why a lot of places such as Paypal tell people that it is better to just type the address in your browser rather than clicking on a link.By copying and pasting an email address from an email into a browser you get to the page the email claims it wants you to visit rather than the fake one that they attached to the link so copying is safer than clicking.
    Stephen J Chapman

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    <input name="html5" type="text" required pattern="^$">

  6. #6
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Any sensible person would hover over the link in the email before clicking it to see where it really points to.
    Shame there are few sensible people left on the web, identity theft and fraud is rampent through email and is making the crooks who do it billions each year (based on Internet crime statistics). People look at the screen and believe what they click will match what they see.

  7. #7
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    Shame there are few sensible people left on the web
    There are lots of people telling everyone to check where the links point, the browsers provide a way to tell just by hovering the mouse over the link, and still they don't listen. What more can anyone do to prevent fraudsters taking advantage of people's stupidity - I guess email programs could just strip all web addresses out of HTML emails completely or remove the option for displaying HTML emails at all but then the idiots would just switch back to their old email program that allows the fraudsters to con them.
    Stephen J Chapman

    javascriptexample.net, Book Reviews, follow me on Twitter
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    <input name="html5" type="text" required pattern="^$">


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