How FakeMailDetector Brought Down Our Monthly Email Bill by 20%

Not everyone uses their real email address online. That is something that gets many marketers frustrated when it comes to running effective email marketing campaigns.

Imagine you have just entered a new E-Commerce store looking for shoes. A popup tells you that subscribing to their newsletter will get you 15% off your first purchase. Have you ever thought of just leaving a fake email and getting the discount without giving your address to be bombarded by even more marketing emails?

There are some people who think like that and leave an invalid email address or just register one of the popular 10 minute emails. In this way they get a discount and never hear back from the retailer.

Whenever we launch our marketing campaigns we realized a trend with bouncing emails, so we decided to take a look and go through our database records. To our surprise, we saw quite a few inactive, fake or intentionally wrong emails. We decided to take action.

The Problem

Our email list is something very important for spreading news about our OpenCart solutions and sharing our knowledge in the form of tutorials, blog posts, guides, free ebooks and so on. It helps new and seasoned users make progress with their online businesses and we value each email on the list.

However, like every email list, there are a few email addresses that don’t actually exist. Since we use an emailing service, there’s a cost for the length of our list. So, we wanted to see if we can optimize things a little bit by investigating the fake emails and getting them out of the way.

The Solution

To verify the real emails of our users and see which ones are invalid, we implemented a new verification method.

How does the method work?

The email verification function scans an email list and does a 5-step genuine check:

Step 1

Check if the format of the email address is correct, having the right type of symbols, the At (@) sign, and a valid domain.

Step 2

Detection and exclusion for temporary fake email services, such as 10minutemail.com. These are services that provide temporary emails that have an expiration period.

Step 3

Check if the domain of the email provider exists.

Step 4

Check if that domain has a valid mail exchange record in the DNS.

Step 5

Check if the mail server responds that such an email address exists.

After the check is complete, a list with invalid addresses is created.

Enhanced Security

Finding the fake emails that users have registered can also help in the security. This function works for the checkout, where attempting to purchase something with an invalid email will be impossible.

The Results

As a result of the validation we did on our email list, we stripped away a big chunk of the addresses. The refined list meant we were sending fewer emails, which allowed us to bring down our email bill by about 20%.

A cleaner email list also helps in measuring the results of our campaigns more accurately since the numbers are now more realistic.

Bringing this to OpenCart

The success inspired us to release FakeMailDetector. Since it worked out pretty well for us, we decided to share this with the OpenCart community in the form of an extension, which one can easily add to their website.

You can run the same check on your customer email database and at the end you will receive a list with all of the invalid email addresses. Those emails are stored in a separate database table. From there on, you can either block customers with the fake addresses or simply stop sending emails to them.

Note

Although this works in most cases, due to the nature of the email system, these checks cannot be 100% accurate for all email providers. Some provide all positive responses, some provide only negatives, no matter whether a check is made for a valid or fake email. Yahoo! is an example of a such provider. Gmail on the other hand is one that can be trusted.

FakeMailDetector Overview

This is a module that uses the 5 verification steps you saw above.

We will go through the module settings and show you what this tool can do and how it can help your OpenCart store lower the costs for mass emails, increase your security and give you more accurate data to measure.

Verify Emails

The first tab in the module settings is called Verify emails. There is a single button that lets you start the verification process of the emails of your customers. The progress will be seen in the field below.

Once the verification is complete, move on to the next tab.

Invalid Emails

This is the list with all of the invalid emails that were detected by the verification process.

You are able to see the customer name, email and the reason why their email was marked as invalid.

On the right side, you have three possible options - to edit the customer and modify their email information, mark the email as valid if you determine there’s been a mistake, or delete the customer.

You can also clear the entire log of invalid emails so you can start a fresh verification from scratch.

Actions

There are three actions you can enable or disable. You can:

Exclude invalid emails from newsletters - the fake emails will remain, but you will not be sending newsletter messages to them.

Disable guest checkout for invalid emails - guest users who don’t have an account will not be able to checkout if the email they provide is invalid.

Prompt the users with invalid emails to update their account info - users with invalid emails will receive a notification about the issue and will be prompted to update their account info with a valid email address.

Your Turn

If you think that your email list is perfectly clean of fake emails and that all of your campaigns are reaching real customers, see what FakeMailDetector has to say about this. We would like to know how the extension helped you. Let us know in the comments below!

 

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