Capturing Invalid E-mail Addresses? Maybe It’s Your Site

Dec 16, 2008 9:10 PM  By

The e-mail address you have for your customer may be incorrect–even if the customer is entering it into your database himself. There are a few ways to ensure at the point of entry that the address is correct, but what works best?

Austin Bliss, president of e-mail marketer FreshAddress, outlined his preferences and dislikes last week at the NCDM show.

One of the most common practices he’s seen on sites is the double-entry, in which the user needs to enter his or her address, and then confirm it on the next line. While that may be tempting, it’s not something he recommends.

Why not? A show of hands during his session indicated that most people just copy and paste the address entered into the confirmation box.

“If the user copies and pastes the incorrect address, is the marketer getting any value from the transaction?” Bliss asked. “The marketer is just getting the same bad data twice. There’s no evidence that I’ve seen that indicates this cuts down on the typo rate.”

Sometimes a double or confirmed opt-in is the right solution for the merchant, but Bliss says there are just too many steps involved. This is where a consumer inputs his or her data and then has to wait for an e-mail to be sent before continuing on in the process.

It frustrates customers, it lends to huge drop-off rates, and it results in incomplete registrations, Bliss says.

Another issue Bliss sees is the size of the box used to enter that e-mail address. If it’s not wide enough so that the consumer can view all the characters, it’s pretty hard to double-check that the address is correct. It doesn’t cost a merchant a dime to have the size of the box enlarged, he points out.

The confirmation or pop-up gets the job done a little better, Bliss said. This is where a customer may sign up on a third-party page and just give the basic first and last name and e-mail.

When the customer clicks to complete the transaction, he or she is taken to either a pop-up or a full registration page, with the information already populated. So this will give the customer a second chance to check for typos.

But the best approach for Bliss is real-time validation. This is where logic is added to the database, so if a customer spells an e-mail service provider’s name wrong, a box will pop up to give the user a chance to select the correct possible address.

“In this case it just takes the customer one click to make sure the right address was entered,” Bliss said.