August 19, 2018

Is your website email address killing you?

SIERRA MADRE, CA - MAY 29:  Seventieth anniversary cans of Spam, the often-maligned classic canned lunch meat made by Hormel Foods, are seen on a grocery store shelf May 29, 2008 in Sierra Madre, California. With the rise in food prices, sales of Spam are increasing as consumers look for ways to cut their food bills. According to the US Agriculture Department, the price of food is rising at the fastest rate since 1990. Increasingly expensive staples include such items as white bread, up 13 percent over last year, butter, up nine percent, and bacon at seven percent. The increasing sales have translated to 14 percent higher profits for Hormel. Spam was created in 1937 and was popularized as a staple food for World War II Western allied forces.

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Yes, your email address on your website is killing you. Your organization is getting spam , missing sales leads , and aggravating customers because of it.

Can it really be that bad?

I thought listing my e-mail on my website was a good thing! I want to serve my customers & partners effectively and reach out.

Yes, the mailto link approach really is that bad.

Well, the problem is how the email address is done on your website. Most site designers still use the mailto link approach to gather feedback. There are three critical problems with this method:

  1. The Mailto Link is used to harvest e-mail addresses by spambots (spam robots) so that they can crush your inbox with junk mail. I personally experienced this when my spam went from 5 a day to over 50. It dropped back to normal several months after the website mailto link problem was fixed.
  2. The Mailto Link does not work for 75% of the people that click on it. This is because your browser often does not know what e-mail program you use. The mailto link can even crash or lockup a computer – not the best way to impress a potential customer.
  3. The Mailto Link does not provide good feedback information. When the mailto link DOES work, you typically get emails like "Send me some information about your product" or "I really like your service on the second page." Neither message lets you know what your customers want and then they may be unhappy with your lack of a good response.

What should I do to fix the mailto link problem?

First, do NOT just remove your mailto link from your website without having a fix in place.

Here are the steps to fix the mailto link problem. The solution is to develop a form that customers can use to interact with you.

  1. Define the information you want to get from sales leads and from comments. Having different forms for different functions (sales, request for information, or comments) is a good idea.
  2. Select only a few fields that are required for submission (name, comment, and email are typical). Don’t require all fields to be filled out – your customers will think you are pushy and not want to talk with you online.
  3. Develop a Contact Us form that pre-qualifies the information you are sent. Make sure the form data goes to the correct person’s email address.
  4. Put the form in the website and test it.
  5. Replace the mailto link with an image of the email address and link the image to your form page.

Yeah, but I have to show my email address.

OK, but you don’t have to use the mailto link. You can use a picture of your email address that links to your feedback form. This allows people to write down your email information and still contact you without being exposed to all the problems.

By the way, if you plan to use FrontPage to develop your forms, keep in mind that they will likely NOT work properly. Microsoft no longer supports FrontPage extensions needed to make forms function. FrontPage has other issues, but that is another (several) posts.


  1. Thank you for this post. My dear friend is about to launch a site for his new business. I explained to him some of the pitfalls of having his email address on his site. But you explain it even better.
    Thank you!

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