I’ve been working in digital since the mid-2000s, and over the years, not only has technology changed and evolved, but I’ve also seen several mistakes. They can range in severity from minimal, like the wrong piece of creative running, to severe, like spending $25,000 in 6 hours on a $1,000 monthly budget. One random mistake many don’t hear about is incorrect URLs. With the advances in email security, links often masquerade as security links. When someone emails you a link, if your email provider is using a security tool like Proofpoint, Microsoft 365, or Norton, the actual link is replaced with a security link, like urlessentials.proofpoint (along with a bunch of URL parameters and gibberish).
This security step is designed to make sure if someone clicks a malicious link, the perpetrator who sent it won’t be able to gain any valuable information when they go phishing. It also means you are redirecting the link through a security service, which can lead to problems for content creators, website managers, or just about anyone who works in digital.
Essentially what happens is any link sent via email is replaced to route through the security tool. When you click on the link, it routes the user through the security tool and then to the destination. For example, if I get an email with the link test.com, it will route me through https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__test.com-AWHOLEBUNCHOFLETTERSANDNUMBERS, then to test.com. If someone copies a link out of an email and puts it into a digital location, like a final URL, clickthrough, or as a website link, all users then go through the security tool before arriving at the intended destination. So, while users wind up where they were meant to go, it breaks a litany of digital data points.
Here are just a few of the issues when you drop one of these links into a piece of creative, on a website, or in an ad.
- All your tracking goes out the window because it erases the user flow. Since you’re going through an intermediary, it breaks the data connection, so user conversions, clicks, and sessions can’t be properly attributed.
- Ads can be disapproved since redirects aren’t allowed.
- It puts strain on the security tools since you’re funneling a bunch of traffic through it.
- The end-user experience goes down the drain as site performance will drop significantly. Where a mobile site is expected to load in 3-5 seconds (or less!), it can take anywhere from 10-60 seconds for a site to load on a mobile device.
- It opens up security risks, which is ironic. Many of these links are meant to be internal to a company/group, so once published they are then public, so end users can see who put in the link and garner additional data and information.
While we often talk about wins in the marketing world, the common mistakes need to be talked about, too. This particular issue is not exclusive to beginners or experts but still happens more frequently than it should. So, check your URLs and make sure you’re sending people where they are supposed to go.