I came across a great article today that reminded me of why I no longer rely on email marketing and why I use SMS Text Marketing instead. See what you think and leave a comment.
Gmail recently announced they will begin rejecting emails containing certain combinations of Latin and non-Latin characters. This decision comes on the heels of increasing support for non-Latin characters. Unfortunately, spammers often exploit similarities between characters in different scripts to mislead and harm unsuspecting victims. For instance, the Gujarati digit zero (?) and Greek small letter omicron (?) both resemble the Latin lowercase letter o. A spammer might substitute either in place of the letter o and dupe an email recipient into visiting a malicious website that mimics one they trust, e.g. “Sh?ppingSite.com” vs. “ShoppingSite.com.”
Google will be filtering messages for these suspicious combinations using an open standard — Unicode Consortium’s “Highly Restricted” specification. The Unicode community has already done the legwork in identifying combinations of letters that could be misleading. Google updated their bulk sender guidelines to clarify that the authenticating domain, envelope From domain, payload From domain, reply-to domain, and sender domain must follow these guidelines as well.
According to Google, the standard “strikes a balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused.” Yet, some criticism has surfaced regarding their choice of restriction level. The “Highly Restrictive” profile indicates that characters must be from a single script or from one of the following combinations:
- Latin + Han + Hiragana + Katakana
- Latin + Han + Bopomofo
- Latin + Han + Hangul
In addition to the above combinations, the “Moderately Restrictive” level allows Latin along with other recommended or aspirational scripts, except Cyrillic and Greek. Since some web browsers such asFirefox follow the “Moderately Restrictive” profile, conflicts could arise. For instance, one could buy a domain name allowed within the “Moderately Restrictive” profile, but be unable to use it for correspondence with Gmail users.
Certain cultures have actually adopted dialects which combine Latin and non-Latin characters. One such example is “Arabizi” or the Arabic chat alphabet. Arabizi initially arose as a character encoding of Arabic to the Latin script and Arabic numerals. However, with the increasing availability of the Arabic alphabet on computers and phones, overlap has occurred — a single word or phrase may combine both Latin and Arabic characters. In addition to Arabizi, other valid combinations of Latin and non-Latin characters exist, some used purely because they are “cool looking.”
Apart from the edge-cases, Google’s filtering will likely protect the majority of email users from deceptive spammers. Email marketers should make sure their messages follow Unicode’s “Highly Restrictive” profile, or the messages may be rejected by Gmail.