Email privacy is a very broad subject with various applicable laws, but in this article, we are focusing on how you ensure email privacy for the contact information you add to your website, such as an email address.
So, you may be wondering what is the best way to put email addresses on websites, either because you are starting your own website or because you want to optimize it, so let me help you. First of all, having your contact information on your website is crucial for developing your relations with your customers and/or users.
This establishes a bridge of professionalism and gives room for the relationship to be nurtured. Since they will be able to contact you, you will then be able to contact them directly as well, giving them the personalized attention that is so important to building a successful business relationship.
Knowing the importance of establishing a connection with the clients is a great first step, but do you know how to share your contact information in a safe way?
There are essentially three ways in which you can share your email address on your website, but they come with email privacy and safety concerns. You don’t want your email to be spammed by bots all over the internet right? So let’s discuss your options.
Email privacy – methods and level of security
1. Plain text – least secure
The simplest way you can share your email address on your website is with plain text writing, meaning you will just show your email as such:
This however makes your email susceptible to being automatically recognized and harvested by spammers, therefore not maintaining email privacy. This is something you probably will want to avoid as it leads to an increasing amount of unwanted emails.
Website administrators have come up with some clever solutions to protect this method from spammers and bots, such as using embedded images on your source code with the email address or even writing out your email address like this:
However, you don’t have the convenience of clicking on the email address to automatically send an email. This led to the surge of numerous email obfuscation techniques to try to fix the problem of bots in the best possible way.
2. Mailto link – medium security
Similarly to this example, you could also use a mailto link, meaning that when you click on it, the browser is triggered to open the user’s Email Application of choice. Although convenient to some, with this method, you are potentially alienating a portion of your users that do not have a dedicated email application. This means with the mailto link some of your users might not be able to get access to your email after all.
3. Contact forms – most secure
Instead of posting an e-mail address to their website, many website operators provide a form that allows visitors to enter their messages as well as leave their name and contact address. You can create your forms in PHP or in another programming language of your choice.
By using forms you allow your server to send the email, getting tighter control over how the email is generated, what data the user is allowed to put in, and you could even send them a return email (generated by the server) to confirm you have received their message. This is a well-known method of allowing customers and visitors to contact you, whilst still giving you protection and control over the entire process.
Now that you have a broad perspective on how these methods affect email privacy and safety levels it’s up to you to decide which one works better for your purpose and specific goals. Stay safe and continue to work on your contacting skills!