A URL shortener is a tool which reduces lengthy web addresses to something much more digestible. For example, click ‘http://goo.gl/zuXtNk‘, and you will be taken to a website with a far longer URL.
Understandably, URL shorteners have been put to good use in email marketing, helping to reduce the size of messages and tidy up clutter.
Unfortunately, they are just as popular with spammers who use them in an attempt to avoid having their real domain blocked by ISPs. This has caused some marketing experts to warn against the use of URL shorteners and it is advice which is worth heeding.
One report centres around a genuine marketer who’s emails were falling foul of domain blacklists. After some investigation, it became apparent that he was using the Twitter URL shortening service, t.co, which was blacklisted.
Spammers have jumped on t.co because it hides them perfectly – Twitter even uses it in tweets instead of the original URL. That has unfortunately led to t.co’s somewhat unfair existence on many ISP blacklists.
If you’re suspicious about the number of emails you see returned or blocked, it might be worth testing the removal of shortened URLs. If that has a positive effect, they’re likely your culprit. Instead, use the original URL but hide it behind text or imagery.
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