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Email Verification – How to Reduce Fake List Signups

The strength of any email marketing campaign depends on the quality of the list or database of contact information that you have collected. Many businesses and professional individuals know about how to attract signups to the list but may struggle to prevent fake list signups that detract from the overall effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

Sending an introduction or offer to a contact database requires valid email information to improve the return on investment (ROI). Incorrect, obsolete, and especially nonexistent information not only decreases your return but can also irreversibly damage your ability to send marketing messages to all email service providers. This occurs if your messages spam or are undeliverable due to invalid emails.

5 Email Verification Processes to Prevent Fake List Signups

As scammers become more adept at injecting their fake data into email databases, industry responds with more stringent methods of stopping them before they get in the door. To protect your lists from problems caused by bots, put one or more of these tools in place.

1 – Double Opt-in as a First Line of Defense

This method for getting newsletter or marketing list sign-ups has long been used as a basic way of making sure no one signs up accidentally. After inputting their name and address, a verification email is sent out. In order to be subscribed to the list, the recipient needs to click on a link within.

This basic way of checking for valid email data may deter some scammers but is frequently insufficient for the cleanest lists. If your company still suffers from fake list sign-ups, adopt one of the other options in conjunction with this one.

2 – Are You Human? Use CAPTCHA Codes

Everyone has seen CAPTCHA codes on sign-up forms. Some display a jumble of letters and numbers to type, while others simply have an “I am not a robot” checkbox. As spam bots become more sophisticated, so to do these programs designed to stop them. Graphic CAPTCHA systems that display multiple pictures and directions such as, “Click on all the images with a dog” are becoming more popular.

The complexity of some of these systems stopped legitimate sign-ups as well. People with visual impairment may have trouble discerning the letters or numbers in a traditional CAPTCHA codes. In some cases, they result in higher rates of abandonment for signup forms.

3 – Use Social Media Gatekeepers for Signups

This method allows people to use their social media login information to sign up for your list or membership site. Not only is social media sign-up integration convenient for the user, it puts the power of sites such as Google and Facebook on your side of the email verification process. All of the data they have collected is probably cleaner than anything you could hope to achieve.

The only way scammers could infiltrate this type of verification system is if they had existing Facebook or Google+ accounts that are active and accurate. When there are many easier ways to infiltrate email list databases, fake list signups will not go through the trouble.

4 – Use Secret Honey Pots on Opt-in Forms

Another on-site method to prevent fake list signups takes place inside the signup form itself. These so-called “Honey Pots” are special fields in the registration forms. They are hidden from view completely using JavaScript or CSS. These are completely unobtrusive to real people who are filling out the form but catch automatic programs who input data.

The bots fill out the hidden field as if it were visible. In order to stop newsletter sign ups, any form with this field completed must be dumped or flagged as spam and dealt with.

However, the programming behind the implementation of these “Honey Pots” requires considerable knowledge and frequent updating so spammers do not find a way to break through. For the amount of protection they afford, the process may not be ideal for most website owners.

5 – Take it to the Next Level With Mobile Verification

An ever-increasing number of people access the Internet primarily from their smartphones or other mobile devices. Email marketers or newsletter owners can now use this omnipresence to test for valid email information before sending out their messages.

Instead of an on screen CAPTCHA or an email-based opt in code, this type of system sends one to the phone or tablet. An automated call or text is made and the person receiving it needs to enter the number on the website to verify that they are who they say they are. This method of protection is virtually impossible to access by outsiders.

The reduction of fake list signups requires a multi-pronged attack against an automatic enemy that is constantly upgraded and tweaked to breach your defenses. Luckily, businesses and individuals who collect and use opt-in email databases have several methods to combat this pervasive and damaging practice.