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PC Tip of the Month

Wait to Enter Your Email Address

December 2022 – by Per Christensson

🎄 Christmas shopping online? Chances are you've visited a site that pops an alert in the middle of the page saying something like:

"Sign up for our newsletter and save 10%!"

10% Off Email Promo Form Example

In most cases, these promotions are legitimate offers. It might be worthwhile to enter your email address and save a few bucks. I've signed up for several similar promos, then canceled my newsletter subscription shortly after my purchase.

But...

Don't enter your email address until you're ready to purchase!

Believe it or not, websites can grab your email address before you even press Enter or submit the form. The same JavaScript that displays the promo offer may also capture what you type in the text field before you submit it. I learned this from a marketing agency and was shocked to find out that many websites do this.

The same principle applies to the checkout page of an e-commerce site. If you enter your email address, then abandon the shopping cart, the site may still capture the text from the email field and start sending you emails. While sites can "remarket" to you based on other identifiers — such as Google Analytics, Facebook/Instagram cookies, Shopify tracking, etc. — there's no need to supply your email address directly unless you're buying something.

I don't think advertiser tracking is bad, but it should always be clear when an advertiser is collecting data. A website that captures your email addresses before you submit the form is insidious and, in my opinion, unethical. So wait to type your email address until you're ready to complete your purchase.

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