Why oh why?
Over last few months I have seen something very worrying trends on my mailing list. I have seen many new subscribers “signing up” each day but you know I saw something really strange.
The email was valid but the first name was either blank or had a number in it.
Let me tell you more…
Spam is something that is here to stay
If you have a sign up form, you need to make sure that you are stopping spambots
Find out more in this article.
As I looked at my list I saw this was happening day after day on various lists.
So I contacted my mailing list provider and told them. They investigated and came back to me. At first they said the sign ups seem legit.
I left it. But then it happened again and again and again. I suddenly realised that in order to increase conversions I had left some of the list as single optin.
Single Vs Double Optin
The advantage of single optin is that the person signs up, gets confirmed right away on your list and there is no other action by needed by them.
On the other hand double optinn means that they sign up, you send them an email, they have to click on a link in that email and then they are confirmed and your email sequence is sent to them.
The “challenge” with double optin is that it can decrease conversions as people are lazy.
Since I had been feeling lazy I had left my lists on single optin
The dangers of single optin
Of course right now you can see the danger of single optin. A person can get subscribed by someone else and be put onto your list and be sent your email sequence without their permission. This opens you up to potential legal issues.
This is what I started to see, people on my list getting my emails and then either sending me abuse “i never signed up for this” type emails, marking my email as spam, or making a complaint about me to ISPs and more…..
The honey pot
I again brought this to the attention of my mailing provider and after quite a lot of investigation they found a range of IPs that seemed to be spamming my sign up forms. They banned them and it stopped for a while. However, as we all know banning ips will work for a while, but then the spammers start to use a different IP range. Sure enough the sign ups returned.
I was reluctant to start using a captcha as they really are a pain, so the mailing provider put in a honey pot. Basically some hidden code that a human would not see but a bot would see. Again it worked for a while and just recently started again.
I finally decided to go for double optin and it started to work. Each and every day I found more and more unconfirmed people on my lists – ie they had to be fake. But I was still worried. After all in order to confirm the optin I had to send them an email, so that in itself could be considered unsolicited email (I don't really think it would). However, even if it was not a person who received it could still mark it as spam which would affect my sender score.
The change over
I looked around to see what options were on the market – being a cost conscious marketer I did not want to go back to using mailchimp, aweber etc as I wanted more control. I invested in a self hosted WordPress solution. It works great, gives me more control but after a few hours I saw the spambots again signing up.
First there is the excitement of watching your list grow, until you see that they are fake sign ups.
After doing a lot of searching I finally found a solution. And so far it is working really well. There is a plugin called Anti Spam by Clean Talk. Basically when a person goes to fill up a form on your WordPress site or sign up, it will check their email address against a database of know addressed that have been used for spam purposes and then block that address.
So far at time of writing it is block about 20 addresses a day.
This has helped me worry less but also ensure that I am not seen as a spammer!
Why do spambot do what they do?
It's a really good question and one I can't answer as I don't know the answer to it! I will keep researching and let you know if I find out.
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