Lyris: Broken and Text E-Mails Look Like Scams

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Consumers believed that e-mails from legitimate firms were phishing scams because the e-mails did not render properly or were in text format, a new study found.


E-mail marketing software firm Lyris Technologies Inc., Berkeley, CA, conducted an informal study of 100 consumers to see whether they could distinguish fake or phishing e-mails from legitimate offers from real companies.


Lyris tested 10 e-mails, including actual offers from financial services firms and actual phishing scams, obtained from www.antiphishing.org.


Accidentally, some of the messages from legitimate firms in the test were "broken," as in the layout of the ad did not render properly.


Lyris found that consumers were most suspicious of the broken e-mails, as well as those in text format rather than HTML, but were not suspicious of the phishing e-mails.


Seventy-two percent said that the broken/improperly rendered e-mails from major brands were the most "suspicious looking," and 11 percent said the text e-mails were most suspicious. Only 10 percent said the actual phishing e-mails looked most suspicious.


"If you're not putting a fair level of quality control on the e-mails, you are taking chances with your reputation," said Robb Wilson, vice president of deliverability at Lyris.


Regarding text versus HTML e-mails, those surveyed believed that "if they can't afford high promotional quality in their messages, then they're more likely not legitimate," Wilson said.


"This is a reversal on a previous trend that said text e-mails were more trusted," he said.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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