Guarding Against Spam Bot Abuse

Have you ever seen a sudden spike in your email newsletter sign ups and thought that your new marketing campaign was an overnight success? That could be true, but your sign up form could also be victim to spam bot abuse.

What exactly is bot abuse and what can you do about it? Spam bot abuse typically takes place on sign up forms that have no type of validation. A spam bot will exploit those forms to sign up thousands of email addresses that do not belong to actual subscribers. Unfortunately, this will negatively impact your reputation with recipient ISPs.

Here are four ways to protect your recipient lists and your reputation from spam bot abuse:

  1. reCAPTCHA – By adding reCAPTCHA to your sign up forms you are adding a validation tool that bots cannot access eliminating their ability to sign up.
  2. Confirmed Opt-In (COI) – Using a COI procedure during sign up means sending an email to the address used during sign up that contains a link requesting the recipient to confirm that they have opted in to your mailing list. Not only will COI help to eliminate bot abuse, it will also decrease hard bounces because it significantly decreases the chances of having misspelled and invalid emails added to your lists.
  3. Engagement – In most cases, emails signed up during a bot attack will not engage with your mail, meaning they will not open or click the message. If a recipient has not opened or clicked your mail in the past 6 months, they should be removed from your list. This is also a way to practice good list hygiene by only sending mail to recipients that want it.
  4. Know your audience – If you’re a travel blogger, it makes sense that you would have recipients on a global scale. However, if you’re running a local business that only serves customers in a 120 mile radius, it doesn’t seem right to have a spike in recipients based in Russia. Knowing your recipient base will help you notice unusual patterns in your recipient sign ups that may lead to finding spam bot abuse.

You can be proactive in protecting your quality recipient lists from being flooded with fake emails and your reputation from being tarnished by spam bot abuse by implementing each of these recommendations. They work great individually, but are even better together!