Don’t Leave Your Keys In the Ignition
While the intent may be good, this is a bad practice. Text email addresses that are exposed to the open internet on a web page are harvested by bots, who may then use them for nefarious purposes like email address spoofing. Bad actors can imitate (phish) your “exposed” email address.
It’s the email equivalent of leaving your keys in the car for convenience.
If you are running PPC campaigns, an “exposed” email address makes it impossible to measure conversions accurately. Conversion data and their associated metadata is the fuel for machine learning. When conversion metadata isn’t captured, the benefits of machine learning are lost. You will also not be able to accurately measure the “wins” (conversions) your campaign generates.
When a visitor uses an “exposed” email address directly to make contact with your business, it’s impossible to record if you generated a conversion, lead, or purchase from a PPC campaign, or to capture the associated metadata. This happens whether the visitor was acquired through organic search, paid search, a referral link, or direct traffic. So there is no reporting of the event. This is not insignificant for organic traffic, but in paid search the inability to capture conversions and metadata hobbles automated bidding.
The Solution To Exposed Email Addresses
The solution is simple: replace an exposed email address with text, e.g. “Contact Support” and make that text a hyperlink to a Form, usually a form on a sales, support, or contact page. Forms are trackable. When there is a valid form submission event generated from a paid search visitor, the campaign can track the conversion event and the metadata that is associated with it. If a form is on a long page, an anchor link can be used to take the traffic right to the form.
Using machine learning for bidding makes more efficient use of the ad spend over time, and create higher volumes of conversions per unit of ad spend. The two most important metrics in paid search, operating margin and return on ad spend, are improved.
For More Information
We consider this important enough that we shy away from building campaigns for sites with exposed email addresses. It wastes ad spend, precludes full optimization, and hobbles the performance of campaigns.
That’s why we discuss this with all incoming clients that have exposed email addresses on their websites.