Do Your Links Hurt Your Email Open Rate?

Email marketing remains a critical tool for engaging with your audience and driving conversions for businesses and organizations. However, the effectiveness of your email campaigns hinges not only on your compelling content but also on the strategic placement of hyperlinks within your messages. Links, when used thoughtfully, can enhance user experience and drive desired actions, such as clicking through to your website or making a purchase. But if not carefully considered, they can prove detrimental to your email open rates, hindering your overall campaign success.

A low open rate tells you that your messages are going unnoticed in a sea of emails, potentially resulting in lost opportunities and diminishing the ROI of your email marketing efforts. To safeguard your business’s email marketing success, you must understand the nuances of link placement, relevance, and presentation.

How Links Can Affect Email Open Rates?

Links within emails are a double-edged sword; they can drive engagement but also risk reducing open rates if not used judiciously. An email cluttered with numerous links, especially unbranded, generic short links, can trigger spam filters or raise suspicion among recipients, diminishing open rates. In contrast, a well-considered number of high-quality, branded short links that align with the sender’s domain enhance trust and clarity, leading to improved click-through and potentially higher open rates. Employing clear, enticing anchor text and ensuring links offer genuine value are key to maintaining a recipient’s interest and trust.

When it comes to the presentation of links, aesthetics and functionality are key. Links should be mobile-friendly and visually distinct to catch the eye, while a compelling call to action encourages clicks. Leveraging a URL shortener that allows for custom-branded domains can lend credibility and recognition to your links, fostering trust and increasing the likelihood of future opens. Personalizing links to reflect the recipient’s interests can further boost engagement. Continual testing to refine the use of branded links in your emails is crucial for tailoring content that resonates with your audience and enhances the overall effectiveness of your email campaigns.


What are the Benefits of Safe Email Links?

The following are some of the key advantages of implementing secure email link practices:

Enhanced Security

Enhanced security is a key benefit of safe email links, particularly crucial for maintaining the integrity of a brand and the trust of its customers. These secure practices guard against phishing attacks, which loom large as a digital threat. Techniques like advanced link scanning and real-time validation can block harmful links, preserving the security of email exchanges and fostering customer trust.

Increased Click-Through Rate

Implementing safe email links can lead to a higher click-through rate as recipients are more likely to engage with links that they trust. Security-enhanced links reassure users, reducing hesitancy in clicking through. This heightened sense of safety can translate directly into increased engagement with email content, making safe links a powerful driver for the success of email marketing campaigns and enhancing overall interaction with a brand’s communications.

Higher Deliverability

The use of safe email links also contributes to higher deliverability. Emails that contain secure, verified links are less likely to be flagged as spam, which maintains the sender’s reputation and ensures that marketing messages reach the inbox. Improved deliverability has a cascading effect on open rates and, by extension, the potential for higher conversions and a more effective email marketing strategy.

Increased Credibility and Trustworthiness

Incorporating safe email links elevates a brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. It signals to customers that a company is committed to the highest standards of online safety. In an era where digital threats are ubiquitous, a brand that goes the extra mile to secure its communications is one that builds lasting trust with its audience, fostering stronger customer relationships and loyalty.

Access to Data

Branded, shortened email links generated by platforms like Rebradly enable precise tracking and analytics. This access to data is invaluable for businesses aiming to understand audience engagement and behavior. By analyzing click patterns and interest levels, companies can tailor their marketing strategies to better meet customer needs and preferences, thereby enhancing campaign effectiveness and optimizing the return on marketing investments.

Compliance and Legal Protection

Adherence to legal standards is another critical benefit of using safe email links. Compliance with regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR is essential for legal protection and demonstrates a brand’s commitment to responsible communication. This legal compliance not only minimizes the risk of penalties but also reinforces a brand’s image as a trustworthy and customer-centric entity.

Email Link Security: Branded VS Non-branded Links

Email link security is a crucial aspect of a successful marketing campaign, and the use of unbranded short links often raises red flags in the minds of recipients. Non-branded short links can sometimes appear spammy, as they lack the credibility and trust associated with recognizable brand domains.

With email being a platform where character count is important, the need for short, branded links becomes even more evident. But when using link shorteners that don’t allow association with the company’s domain, brands end up compromising the campaigns’ ROI. When using such non-branded short links, companies risk experiencing lower deliverability and open rates in their emails. Recipients might hesitate to click on unfamiliar links, which can result in missed opportunities and reduced engagement.

In contrast, branded URL shorteners like Rebrandly offer several advantages. By tying links to a company’s existing domain, they keep the links reliable and less likely to be flagged as spam, contributing to a high email click-through rate. Branded links also boost authority, improve SEO, increase click-through rates on social media, and enhance brand visibility.

Safe and Unsafe Email Link Examples

The following examples illustrate the key differences between safe and unsafe email links to help you determine if your emails’ links may hurt your open rate.

safe email link

unsafe email links

How to Improve Email Link Safety for Better Open Rate?

Here are a few tips to help you ensure your email links are safe and maximize your open rates:

  • Choose a Trusted Email Marketing Platform: Start by selecting a reputable email marketing platform that implements link safety measures. Platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and SendinBlue often include link scanning to ensure your emails are safe and trustworthy.
  • Use Branded URL Shorteners: Branded URL shorteners like Rebrandly can significantly improve email link safety. These services allow you to create custom, branded short links that build trust with your audience. Users are more likely to click on links that appear professional and familiar.
  • Verify and Monitor Your Links: Before sending out emails, double-check all your links to ensure they lead to the intended destinations. Broken links can negatively impact your open rates. Regularly monitor links in your email campaigns to ensure they remain safe and up-to-date.
  • Implement HTTPS: Make sure that the destination URLs of your links use the HTTPS protocol. HTTPS provides a secure connection between your website and the user, reducing the risk of data interception or manipulation.
  • Beware of Phishing Scams: Educate your team and email subscribers about phishing scams and how to recognize suspicious links. Be transparent in your emails by clearly explaining the purpose of the link and ensuring that it aligns with the email’s content.
  • Test Your Emails: Conduct A/B testing on your emails to gauge the effectiveness of different link placement, styles, and wording. Testing helps you identify the most compelling ways to present links and encourages higher open rates.
  • Avoid Overusing Links: Refrain from overloading your emails with numerous links. An excess of links can appear spammy and overwhelm your recipients. Prioritize the most relevant links to maintain a clean and safe email appearance.
  • Include an Unsubscribe Option: Including a clear and easily accessible unsubscribe link is not only a legal requirement but also contributes to email link safety. It allows recipients to opt-out if they no longer wish to receive your emails, reducing the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.
  • Keep Your Email List Clean: Regularly clean your email list by removing inactive or disengaged subscribers. This ensures that your emails are reaching an audience genuinely interested in your content, which, in turn, positively impacts your open rates.

Key Takeaways

Ensuring email link safety is essential for improving open rates and building trust with your recipients. While short links like the one generated by Bitly can provide some convenience, they are not associated with your company’s domain, which can lead to low email deliverability.

On the contrary, branded URL shorteners like Rebrandly allow companies to tie the URL to their existing domain. With that, they are far less likely to be flagged as spam, ensuring that your emails reach their intended audience and contribute to a better open rate.

Steps to Determine if Your Email Links Will Hurt Your Open Rate

Determining whether your email links will hurt your open rate is crucial for the success of your email marketing campaigns. Here are the steps you can take to ensure your email links are safe and will not negatively impact your open rate:

  • Relevancy and Personalization: The first step in ensuring your email links don’t harm your open rate is to make sure they are relevant and personalized. Links should match the content and context of your email. If a recipient clicks on a link expecting one thing and finds something entirely different, they may lose trust and be less likely to open future emails.
  • Avoid Misleading Clickbait: Clickbait tactics might get more clicks initially, but they often lead to disappointment, which can negatively affect your open rate in the long run. Be transparent about what the link leads to, and avoid sensationalized or misleading language.
  • Optimize Preview Text: The preview text in your email is critical in convincing recipients to open it. Include a concise and compelling description that hints at what the email content and linked destination are. If your links are ambiguous or the preview text doesn’t match the destination, it can discourage opens.
  • Segmentation and Targeting: Sending emails with links that are highly relevant to specific segments of your audience can significantly boost open rates. Segment your email list and customize the links to suit the interests and needs of each group. People are more likely to open emails that offer what they’re looking for.
  • Mobile Optimization: A growing number of people access their emails on mobile devices. Ensure that your email links are mobile-friendly. They should be easily clickable on small screens, and the linked content should be responsive and load quickly.
  • Test Different Link Text: Experiment with different link text to see what resonates best with your audience. Sometimes, a slight variation in wording can make a significant difference in open rates. A/B testing can help you identify the most effective link text.
  • Monitor Engagement Metrics: Regularly monitor metrics like click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates to gain insights into how well your links are performing. If certain links consistently underperform, reevaluate their placement, relevance, and overall purpose.
  • Clean-Up Broken Links: Broken or dead links can damage your email reputation and open rates. Regularly check and update links to ensure they are functional. Use link-tracking tools to monitor their status.
  • Comply with Anti-Spam Laws: Make sure your email links comply with anti-spam laws and regulations, including providing a clear and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe. Violating these laws can lead to recipients marking your emails as spam, which negatively impacts open rates.


The following are some frequently asked questions about email links and their impact on open rates.

What affects email open rates?

Email open rates can be influenced by several factors, including the subject line’s effectiveness, the sender’s reputation, the timing of the email, and the relevance of the content to the recipient. A compelling subject line that piques the recipient’s interest is crucial, as is sending emails from a recognizable and trustworthy sender.

Do links hurt email deliverability?

Links in emails themselves typically do not hurt email deliverability. However, the quality and context of those links matter. If your email includes too many suspicious links, it can trigger spam filters and negatively impact deliverability.

What is an acceptable email open rate?

An acceptable email open rate can vary depending on the industry and the type of email campaign. On average, open rates range from 15% to 25%.

Why are my email open rates dropping?

Email open rates can drop for various reasons, but common factors include changes in your email list quality (like outdated or disengaged contacts), increased competition in recipients’ inboxes, and evolving email algorithms. To improve open rates, consider refining your targeting, optimizing subject lines, and delivering valuable content to engage your audience and encourage more opens.