Online Marketing

Marketers: Is your Web Security Hurting your Open Rate? – MarTech Advisor

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Natasa Djukanovic, CMO of .ME, talks about how web security can impact email marketing rate and what precautions marketers need to take. 

Everybody knows that web security is a top priority, especially for online-oriented businesses. However, as marketers we can be guilty of creating an atmosphere where security becomes a thing that admins and developers worry about, and we take for granted. That is a mistake we often pay dearly for. As the internet becomes more complicated and hackers become craftier and more devious, the way we care about our security is impacting our entire online marketing strategy. How we keep our users safe is becoming a strong factor in all sorts of things – ranging from the position of our website on search engines to the way spam filters treat our mail servers, to the very ownership of our online channels.

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Web security covers a broad spectrum of topics that require expertise in various areas. Let’s touch on a couple of those that influence us, the marketers, the most.

Also Read: Top 3 Email Marketing Automation Campaigns on a Limited Budget

SSL certificate. Seriously, there is no reason not to have one today.

SSL (short for Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate is a way to guarantee that the communication between your website and its visitors is encrypted, and that it is safe from many interception attacks that would allow hackers to steal your users’ data or modify the data you are sending to them. Having a properly implemented SSL certificate is a good way to ensure the communication with your visitors is encrypted, and that their interaction with your website is harder to intercept.

An additional perk of having a SSL certificate? Your HTTPS websites load faster. In turn, faster loading gives you not only an SEO boost, but minimizes the number of people who have clicked on your email link, banner or a social media post, but left due to website taking too long. If you are worried about your click-through or open rate being low, you should also worry about your bounce rate. Not to mention that load speed severely influences conversion rates and overall customer satisfaction.

If that is not enough to make you jump onto HTTPS boat, Google outright punishes websites without SSL certificates by making SSL a SEO ranking signal. Best of all? It is easier and cheaper than ever to get a certificate. Letsencrypt and Cloudflare will even let you get one for free.

Insecure code can seriously hinder your search engine ranking

Hackers exploit insecure code on websites to take over and do nasty things, like insert foreign links to manipulate SEO, steal user data or spread viruses.

Having malicious code on your website is a sure-fire way to raise a red flag with Google. It will raise the infamous malware warning for users trying to visit your website, and may get you delisted. Having Google Search Console integrated with your website is a good way to find the problematic pages and request whitelisting once you clean up the code and deal with the attack.

New ways to conduct these cross-site scripting attacks are being found every day, and no one is safe — even Twitter fell for it back in 2012. Keeping track of the new exploits and securing your code is imperative. Careful and steady monitoring of your code for infections is the best way to timely find and deal with cross-site scripting attacks.

Do not let your domain name get stolen

Easier to detect and prevent, but harder to deal with once they happen, are domain hijacking attacks. Here, hackers use social engineering or attack registrar software to transfer ownership over your domain to their websites. Make sure you use a reputable registrar and keep the passwords safe — including your registrar account password and the password for the email address used to register the account and domain name.

Regaining access to a domain name that was stolen is a lengthy process. The more valuable your website is, and the more online-oriented your business gets, the more devastating loss of the ownership over your domain name. As domain ownership is not something that changes often, putting additional administrative barriers on changing it (often called “domain locking”) is a smart move. This is the idea behind “Registry Lock” that is received with a .ME domain. With Registry Lock, if you want to change your domain name ownership, you can do so only after the registry, the highest authority for a respective domain extension, has been notified about the requested change by both you and your registrar, via secure communication channels.

If your registrar and domain name extension support it, consider using DNSSEC to additionally protect your domain name ownership from advanced attacks such as DNS cache poisoning. 

Also Read: 9 Must-have Components of every Email Marketing Campaign

Your open rate can also benefit from your security efforts

Security issues can hurt your email marketing efforts pretty much the same way they hurt your SEO ranking. After all, spam filters and email clients, just like Google, have their users’ safety in mind, and will do their best to prevent them from being exposed to spammy emails and potential scams.

A good way to start looking into security issues that can directly affect your reputation with spam filters is by checking your Sender Score. Sender Score is, essentially, the reputation your e-mails have with mailbox providers. The lower your Sender Score – the harder time you will have getting into someone’s inbox. Not having HTTPS lowers your Sender Score, and tightening the security around who can send emails from your domain (via SPF record) can help strengthen your open rate.

Hackers use vulnerable websites to send spam, which can put your domain on blacklists, and seriously hurt your ability to deliver emails to your users. Make sure your admins regularly check the send log of the email server, and that your domain is not on any of the blacklists. MxToolbox has a great free blacklist-checking tool.

Open rate is a tricky statistic that means much only if the rest of the flow is set up right. If your newsletter leads to an insecure, slow or a compromised web page, high open rate will not help your conversion.

A tight web security is a strong support system to your marketing strategy. It keeps your online efforts easier to plan, predict, and maintain. It benefits both you and your users, permeating your entire online reputation.

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