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It's easy to add a pre-filled subject, body and CC/BCC in mailto: links.

It would be useful for website owners to know if an email originated from their website, or from an email address published/received elsewhere: another website, a business card, flyer, poster, etc.

What is a good, non-obtrusive, and user-friendly practice for putting mailto: to use for acheiving this on a company website?

It seems the pre-filling the body is too much, but perhaps something in the subject? For example:

Email from Company Website

Or is that too obtrusive when it comes to UX? Obviously, users could modify/remove this as they wish. Another idea:

Company Query

Or, perhaps better:

Company Inquiry

It'd also be useful to identify which page an email request came from — if the email is on multiple ones — could be done in the same way?



N.B. Using different email addresses (with redirection) on the various pages is definitely a solution to look into, but this question is concerned specifically with pre-filling the subject-line and other fields and the resulting UX considerations.

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So make it a different e-mail address... –  Marjan Venema Jan 4 '13 at 17:13
    
@MarjanVenema, thanks, I have considered that. Trying to gage subject-line here. –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:15
    
Yes, forgot to delete comment, see my answer. You can't rely on the subject line not being changed. –  Marjan Venema Jan 4 '13 at 17:17
    
@MarjanVenema, of course — I mentioned that myself, and it's fine/expected. –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Depending on where they are clicking, if you can fill in an appropriate subject then you can accomplish two goals, making things easier for the customer, AND making it easier for the recipient to determine where it came from.

For example, say you've got the email linked in three places, the footer of your website as Contact, the help section and in business inquiries. If each has an appropriate subject then the customer doesn't have to type a subject, and you can easily differentiate which link the customer clicked on.

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Good point with making it easier for customers — those who want to fill the subject: may do so. Otherwise, it's easier for them. I'm now thinking that perhaps the body could also contain contact-form-like fields, like Phone: to leave a space for them to fill it out. –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:17

Even if someone uses a mailto link, the mail does not come from the website. It still comes from the user's mail client.

It should not matter whether they found the e-mail address on the website. After all, they can also copy/paste it manually or just type it into their mail client.

Also, the subject line can be changed in the user's mail client, so it is not something you can rely on.

If you really want to distinguish where the sender found your e-mail address: use different e-mail addresses.

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I did mention: "Obviously, users could modify/remove this [subject] as they wish." –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:19
    
Also, this question is specifically concerned with UX considerations for the subject-line and other pre-filled fields via mailto: links. –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:22
    
@Baumr: To address the UX of prefilling the subject line: I don't see any users objecting to it, but don't see any benefit to them either. That's why I addressed your apparent assumptions (not only the subject line being changed). If you really want to track how many people are using the mailto link, you will have to find other means. There simply are too many ways in which this can go wrong for you to use it in any kind of analysis. –  Marjan Venema Jan 4 '13 at 17:30
    
Actually, there is a clear benefit suggested in another answer, which I happen to agree with. However, come to think of it, some users, particularly, on mobile may object to it if they want to change it — harder to do than on a desktop. Also, if it arrives filled out, there are no problems with analysis, as you suggested. If it doesn't, the user must have had a good reason to do so — and the flexibility is intended. –  Baumr Jan 4 '13 at 17:40
    
@Baumr: I don't see having a prefilled subject as a benefit. If I don't want to type a subject, I just don't. Having a prefilled one, means I need to think about what it says (whether I agree with it or not) and possibly remove/change it. And then indeed there is the mobile factor... :-) –  Marjan Venema Jan 4 '13 at 20:59

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