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BizReport : Email Marketing : May 05, 2017

Expert: Why people click phishing emails - and how to stop it

While most people know by now not to open emails from Nigerian princes or with headlines offering millions of dollars, today's phishers have also gotten smarter in how they peak the interest of even the wariest of consumers. Here's what consumers - and brands - need to know.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What is it about phishing emails that make them clickable?

Phil Richards, CSO, Ivanti: Individuals who craft emails with the purpose to deceive their audience -- the victims -- are criminals. The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates consumer-focused advertising and requires marketing literature to be created without the intent to deceive. So while analyzing phishing emails is instructive, it is a mistake to borrow their techniques and inject them into your own marketing collateral.

Kristina: Are phishers still using 'hot topic' type headlines?

Phil: Phishing emails tend to focus on "hot" items that require immediate attention. This is for two reasons: first and foremost, because an urgent email is addressed promptly. Delays can cause messages to get buried under newer emails, thus, they can be lost in the fray and forgotten. Secondly, urgent emails have the effect of shutting down some of the natural filtering mechanisms in the brain. We tend to take a "task-oriented" approach when dealing with an urgent message -- skipping over the analyzation phase.

Kristina: How can not only brands but consumers protect themselves from phishers?

Phil: First, consumers need to realize when an urgent email comes through their inbox, they need to be more wary of the message and context. We need to be more observant when faced with an email that threatens our bank account, email account, shopping experience or tax returns, as these are the typical kinds of emails criminals use to deflect some of the scrutiny.

Second, Marketers need to be aware this strategy may backfire. Consumers may decide to stay away from your product if you create too much urgency -- which can translate to too much drama. As a marketer, your email correspondence needs to match your brand personality, clearly articulate your message, and be error-free. Savvy consumers will hone in on flaws and use them as clues that the email is fraudulent. If your email campaign has a typo, a blurry logo, or a questionable-loooking digital certificate, many of your target customers will notice and immediately send it to the trash.

Tags: email marketing, email marketing trends, Ivanti, phishing email trends

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