Did you know that email fraud is on the rise? I’ve certainly noticed a lot more suspicious emails in my inbox in the past month or so. As a small business owner using email for marketing and other communications with customers, there are some important things you should know to ensure that your business emails don’t get mistaken for fraudulent ones and deleted, stuck in recipients’ junk mail folders or, even worse, reported as spam.
MediaPost recently reported on the rise in email fraud, and also offered some tips for what to include (and not to include) in your business emails to customers so they are clearly identifiable as legitimate. Here are some steps to take.
- Send all of your emails from a URL that includes your business’s full name. Many scammers will send emails from website URLs that are almost like real company URLs, except for one slight change (such as Amazon.biz). It’s important that your emails consistently come from your own URL, not from Gmail or other free email domain.
- Include your company’s full name in every email. Better yet, go a step further and add your company’s physical address and phone number to the bottom of your emails. This will help reassure recipients that you are, in fact, a real company.
- Be consistent in branding your emails. Whether you are sending a marketing email, a payment due notice or a notification that an order has shipped, each email should have some consistent characteristics that identify it as yours. Include your company logo, and use the colors of your business brand. If you’re constantly changing the look of your marketing emails, customers will be confused and less likely to open them. Create various templates you can use for different purposes, while still ensuring a sense of consistency.
- Proofread carefully. You may think one typo doesn’t matter, but in fact, email scammers often use misspellings to help pinpoint “easy marks.” Someone who responds to an email with spelling, punctuation or grammar errors is considered less intelligent and easier to scam. It’s simple to use your spellchecking function to find errors, but you should also review your email content with your own eyes. If you’re not a good proofreader, find someone on staff or outsource to someone who is.
- Never include attachments. Attachments that include viruses when opened are popular hacker tools. Even a legitimate attachment can cause suspicion, or cause your email to be filtered into the spam folder.
- Last but not least, MediaPost advises that businesses using email should keep up to date on popular email scams. Why? So you can make sure your emails don’t sound similar to the scammers’. For example, currently popular scams include fraudulent messages about attempted fax deliveries, canceled payments, product orders or mail shipments. Since this type of message is essential to your business success, it’s especially important that emails you send for these purposes are easily identifiable as legitimate.
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Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.