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Fear of Email overload
What to tell prospective clients
duhboy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 10:48 pm on Mar 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hello everyone,
I like to develop sites for small businesses because I enjoy the one-on-one rapport with the owners. Many of these prospective clients state in no uncertain terms that the main reason they hesitate to go online is a fear of email overload. The prospect of several hundred emails per day or per week or per month is something we all understand.

What do you tell your clients?

Thanks for the input as always, D.

 

jmbishop

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 2:49 am on Mar 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

duhboy,

Are they concerned with receiving spam from having a website? There are ways to cut down on the amount of spam they receive. Only let customers contact the company through an online form instead of displaying their email addresses.

You can code their email address as ASCII characters;

<a href="mailto:&#38;&#117;&#115;&#x65;
&#x72;&#110;&#x61; &#109;&#x65;&#x40;
&#x64;&#111; &#x6d;&#97; &#x69;&#x6e;
&#x2e;&#x63;&#x6f; &#109;">Email Us!</a>

You can also setup email autoresponders to send out reports and answer common questions.

If after all this they are still concerned about using the web to generate leads and conduct customer service I would walk away. The Internet has been around long enough to pass the litmus test and thousands if not millions of companies have proven the web can be used to enhance their client experience and generate revenue. You shouldn't have to re-invent the spiel to get the to adopt this technology.

Sorry but some people have a hard time thinking outside the box.

bill

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 4:38 am on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

We were just having a thread about this the other day: Restricting email harvets bots? [webmasterworld.com]...I just wanted to warn you that the ASCII characters trick doesn't work anymore. A contact form is probably the safest alternative.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 7:02 am on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Many of these prospective clients state in no uncertain terms that the main reason they hesitate to go online is a fear of email overload.

Regarding email harvesting bots, I've used something called Hiveware Enkoder with great success. They have a free online tool where you can input your email address and get an encoded output that uses javascript to display your address properly.

I don't think, though, that this is the problem prospective clients are referring to. Most businesses that don't have websites are unaware of things like spambots. I think what they're worried about are additional customer inquiries, particularly unqualified inquiries.

What I'd tell them is that a site, if properly conceived, should be a work saving tool for them, answering many of the questions that they now deal with by telephone and regular mail. Visitors should get a great many of their questions answered by the site itself.

Beyond that, your prospects may be afraid of unqualified inquiries in particular. This is a tough one. Unqualified inquires can indeed waste a lot of time. SEO generated traffic should be more qualified than most. That is one of the great advantages of SEO... it's targeted.

I haven't searched WW for how to qualify prospects on a site, but it's an interesting question, and I think that may be at the core of what many of your prospects fear, not the spambot thing. (But if they knew about spambots, they'd worry about them too. ;))

web90291

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 7:21 am on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I work with small businesses frequently, and this is always a bridge to cross. I explain the pros-and-cons of posting email addresses, and then suggest a couple things if spam is an issue for them (when isn't it?).

1. substitute something for @ and then explain it on the page - like this.

contact Joe Smith
joe.smith(-at-)blue-widget.com

To email us, replace the (-at-) with a @ - displaying it this way allows us to greatly cut down on spam. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

- - -

2. create images for the email addresses, perhaps with a similar caveat at the bottom:

Our email addresses are displayed as images, allowing us to greatly cut down on spam. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

- - -

I'll be the first to admit this is a bit kludgey, but so far its been very effective. Having a contact mail form is good, but it is a bit removed from the one-to-one communication that small biz can do very well. If a person is willing to type in an email address, that increases the likelihood of their commitment.

percentages

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 8:13 am on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I can honestly say that in getting several hundred small and medium sized businesses as clients this objection has never been raised as an issue.

But, anyways.....here is how you solve it. Which is good practice, whether an issue or not!

If the client wants their email address published on their site and they want it to respond as if it was a "mailto:" link then publish it as a graphic and use JavaScript to redirect the input accordingly. This won't work for 1.92% of the population (according to my logs)....tough luck for those!

Use contact forms where possible. Most contact forms are coded as canned versions of Matt Wright's FormMail script.

Change the Perl to disregard the email address it is passed from the form and to only use a predefined email address which will be hidden from SpamBots. Watch out for the clever cc and bcc tricks used by the latest SpamBots.

You should do this anyway as the published script has numerous other holes.

i.e. you post the recipient address as being Sales@ThisIsASpammedDomain.com and then switch it in the Perl code.....thereby fooling the SpamBots.

PHPMailer offers a much better way of validating and constricting good mails from spam.

Generally speaking the client's email address should appear nowhere on the site in a form that SpamBots can detect.

duhboy

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 1261 posted 9:35 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks to all for the input. I will try out some of these good ideas.
Thanks again for your time.
D.

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