Spam bots have become a huge problem for email subscription forms, especially if you are running a competition which will encourage hundreds or even thousands of automated entries.
We are going to examine a few simple ways you can help protect your subscription forms from unwanted and automate signups that do not require you to change a ton of code!
1. Take stock of your email
Sophisticated bots can manage to get onto your email list. Therefore, the best way to make sure your list stays clean is to go through and remove all the inactive email addresses from your list fairly often. We would recommend approximately six months; otherwise, you might inadvertently remove actual customers!
Apart from removing spambots, removing subscribers who have lost interest is an excellent idea to improve your sender score and email marketing metrics. In addition, if you have a payment plan that takes into consideration the number of sent emails, it could decrease your expenses in the short-term while increasing your ROI.
Almost all of us have verified we are humans via a CAPTCHA of some form or another. The different types cover various things that bots cannot do, like typing scrambled letters, solving basic problems and even finding traffic lights on pictures of roads.
The easiest way to add a CAPTCHA to a subscription form is to use an existing service such as Google’s reCAPTCHA https://www.google.com/recaptcha/intro/v3.html. reCAPTCHA has plug-ins and form code needed plus guides to help you install and customize your CAPTCHA.
There are some downsides to using CAPTCHA. They do drop conversion rates as people can find them annoying and even impossible to fill in, like people who are blind, partially-sighted or have dyslexia. Human spammers are also able to get around the CAPTCHA codes.
3. Email confirmation
The “confirmed opt-in” (COI) procedure is essentially sending a confirmation email to the sign-up email address. This email then has a link confirming the person wants to opt into that specific email list.
it is vital when using this strategy to ensure your potential subscribers know that they will be receiving a confirmation email as (ironically) they can often go into junk/spam folders.
4. A CAPTCHA alternative
Wufoo builds great forms with built-in tools to target spambots. They have also implemented conditional logic and branching, making their forms even more intelligent. Their Rule Builder allows you to control these things easily, even if you have no coding experience.
Wufoo forms also automatically display a CAPTCHA if they feel that someone is abusing the subscription form in question. They only display a CAPTCHA in these circumstances, so there is little impact on your subscription rates.
Wufoo also has a function limiting form use to one entry per IP address but remember this could prevent people from subscribing on public machines.
A free account with Wufoo allows you to create up to 3 forms/10 fields/ 100 entries per month. If you invest in a paid account, it is not a bad investment at all – saving you time in the long-term and improving the accuracy of your analytics. It also ensures that any competitions you run are safer from spambots.
5. Honey, honey, honey
Tempt the spambots with a field, invisible to subscribers that is too tempting for spambots to resist filling in. Then you can eliminate the forms with that field filled in from your list.
It is important to note with this method that it does not work for those using screen readers. You can attach a label to the “honey pot” field in case people with screen readers try to write in it.
Be wary of spambots on your email lists. Remember with every technological advance to block spambots comes a technological breakthrough to make spambots smarter. Used the methods above to keep your customers and your company as safe as possible.