Experiencing fake signups on your Shopify customer account page? This is for you.
Did you know that bots make up almost 30% of the total traffic on the internet? It’s one of the reasons why Shopify store owners see an increase in fake account signups. A report suggests one out of every five account registration is fraudulent.
With fake signups, spam bots skew your subscriber list, damaging your online reputation and creating havoc for your Shopify store. Your subscriber list will be affected so severely that you won’t have an accurate image of your customers. Your metrics will be misleading, and your email will get the “spam” tag.
One way to stop your emails from landing in the spam folder is to clean the list manually and frequently. But it is too tiring. And this method comes with a high probability of making mistakes. You can possibly delete the details of your regular customers too, which of course, no business wants.
So, what is the solution? Instead of having to clean it later, you can take steps to avoid fake signups from happening. In this blog, we’ll share with you some tactics to stop spam bots from doing Shopify fake signups.
What Are Fake Signups?
Bots (automated software applications) built for spamming are one of the biggest threats to a business’ customer database. These bots search for the forms present on a website and submit fake information (of real or imaginary people) to the list. In other words, do a fake signup.
If the email addresses submitted in fake signups belong to people who don’t want emails from your business, then they’re very likely to report you as “spam.” And with more people reporting, Google and other sites will put you on their spam blacklist.
Fake signups also have a negative impact on your business decision because the data you’re relying on is inaccurate. It’ll become harder for you to target relevant content to specific subscribers.
Long story short, protect your store from fake signups to keep it running smoothly.
8 Best Ways to Protect Your Online Store From Bots and Fake Signups
Now that we know how much spam bots can hurt your online business, it’s time to look at the ways to prevent it from happening.
Even if you’ve somehow managed to merely use the internet in this digital age, you must still have come across a CAPTCHA. It asks you to interpret distorted letters and numbers, choose the right images, etc. And you have to fill in the correct answer; only then can you submit the form.
Now, reCAPTCHA is a spam detection tool by Google that recognizes the bots and acts as a barrier between them and the form submission. It’s a free tool. And fortunately, it has been significantly simplified for humans as they can only pass the test by clicking a checkbox.
Using reCAPTCHA, you can protect your Shopify store subscriber list from fake signups.
Here’s what a typical reCAPTCHA looks like:
Add a Double Opt-in Form
Another great way to protect your online store from fake signups is by using the double opt-in feature. Whenever someone enters their email address, a confirmation link will be automatically sent to that email. And the details will not be stored in your database until and unless the users click on the verification link.
Spam bots, however, cannot answer an email. So adding the double opt-in layer will ensure that only real people can sign up for your online store.
This also makes sure that the emails entered by the customers are correct. If they’ve misspelled it, they’ll not receive the correct email. Your hard bourne rate increases when you send multiple emails to invalid IDs.
When the hard bounce is high, it can damage your deliverability rates and put you at risk of being treated as a spam email sender. But by using the double opt-in feature, you can also reduce the chances of a hard bounce.
Here’s what a simple confirmation email looks like:
Set Up Traps for Bots — The “Honey-Pot” Technique
In terms of signup forms, the honey-pot technique is when you add an extra field to your form that only bots will fill because it’ll be invisible to the users. So by filtering the submissions, you can instantly delete the ones in which that extra field is filled up.
You can implement a honey-pot trap using simple HTML and CSS codes. Here’s a sample code:
<input class=”dispnon” name=”field_name” type=”text”>
The code can be simple or complex, depending on what you want to achieve and how your form is structured. An internet search can provide you with many examples if it’s something that you want to explore further.
Enable a Shopify Customer Account Page
Setting up a customer account page is one of the best ways to verify if a bot or a human has filled out the signup form. When customers sign up to create a store account, they have to provide their personal information like name, email, contact no., address, etc.
Their email and contact number are verified using automated confirmation links or OTP, so you can rest assured that the user is a real human and not a spam bot. Their account becomes more accessible to you. And whenever, in the future, they submit a form, you’ll know the submission is coming from the right person.
And not just spam signup detection, a customer account page can also help you strengthen your relationship with customers. To enhance your Shopify customer account pages, you can use a tool like Flits. It has features like personalization, order history, store credits, a wishlist, social login, and much more.
Form Validation After Geolocation of the IP Address
Have you ever come across sites whose content cannot be accessed in your location? Like those websites, you can also disable your form for specific locations if you’re confident that spam traffic is coming from there.
This tactic, however, has a significantly negative side attached to it. When you block the forms for some locations, you even stop the real users from the same location from signing up. So, we recommend that you only go for this if you’re sure that a region is creating more problems than benefits for your business.
Implement Time Analysis
Another way to identify if a form is filled by a bot or a human is by looking at the time it took them to submit it. Ideally, a human will take longer than a bot to finish the same form.
You must also consider that users might be using the auto-complete feature, so the time it takes them will also be lower. But even with auto-complete, humans can’t match the speed of bots who fill the form in less than a second.
Limit and Blacklist IP Addresses
If, upon verification, you come across IP addresses that are involved in suspicious sign ups, you can blacklist them to ensure that you don’t receive spam from them anymore. It’s a long process, though. First, identify a pattern, recognize fraudulent IP addresses, and then mark them as spammers.
Another thing that you do is limit the number of submissions from the same ID, say ten signups. Then you can apply filters to identify the IP addresses that have exceeded the limit.
Block Spam Traffic Using Third-Party Apps
As an online business owner, you must understand that handling everything manually is not the right way to move forward. You must automate things to focus on the main activity, i.e., bringing more customers and sales.
There are a plethora of apps and plugins providing Shopify bot protection. You don’t have to do anything manually. These tools are based on smart learning algorithms that allow you to confirm if the submission is coming from a user or a bot. And the best part is that your customers don’t get annoyed by challenging tests.
To prevent Shopify from fake signups, you can use tools like Shop Protector or Shopify fraud prevention apps. There are also different plugins available for WooCommerce and other online store platforms.
How to Remove Fake Signups?
So now we know how to protect the online store from bots and fake signups. But what about those that have already crawled into your subscriber list? And what about the sophisticated bots that bypass the prevention layers?
This is why removing suspicious emails from the list should be an ongoing process. It can be challenging initially. But as you set up the protection layer, things will be much easier because a majority of bots would’ve already been blocked out.
That said, here are some ways to remove fake signups:
Use Segmentation to Find Passive Subscribers
You don’t want users in your list who’ve been inactive for a long time. They are bringing you no sale. And if they get annoyed by your promotional emails, they will likely report you as spam. Therefore, you should delete their emails from the list and play the safe game.
You can use the segmentation feature of your email service provider. And unsubscribe the users who’ve been inactive for more than 5-6 months. It’ll increase the current engagement and overall sender’s score of your brand.
Use Your ESP’s Email List Cleaning Feature
Almost every email service provider has a feature to clean email lists. This feature is based on machine learning algorithms and constantly validates the emails in your list.
It finds inactive emails in your data to drop your bounce rate. So if the bot signed up using a fake email, the list-cleaning feature would identify it.
Manually Look Through Email Addresses
When you manually check the email address of users in your list, you notice that some are just weird or their domain name doesn’t make sense. In such cases, you can check their spam status using CleanTalk blacklists.
Double-Check the Addresses of Cart Abandoners
There are sophisticated spam bots that can add products to the cart and leave the store without completing the transaction. This can lead to an overestimation of demand. You should keep your eyes on cart abandoners and check if their email looks suspicious or repeat multiple times in the list.
Run Signup Campaigns for Verification
Some of your customers might have completed a purchase as a guest. And you might not have a way to verify their email. In such cases, you can send out a campaign to encourage them to sign up.
But they didn’t do it initially. Why would they do it now? They’ll do it because you will offer them store credits in return for signup. You’ll make more sales because customers will use the store credit to get something. And you’ll also be able to verify their details.
After adding protection layers and cleaning out the list, you’ll have the data of your actual customer. And this is the data that’ll help you make better business decisions.
Pro tip: Use Shopify fraud prevention apps to this more proactively for your online store.
Don’t Let the Fake Signups and Spam Bots Win!
Spam bots, unfortunately, are not going anywhere. You have to make an effort if you want to protect your store from fake signups.
The best way to tackle fraud signups and get your real customers verified is by enabling the customer account page. Flits allows you to set up two-factor authentication to ensure that only real customers can sign up.
When you have customer information and know who’s verified and who’s not, you can easily capture the bots and clean your list. Shopify fraud prevention is rapidly becoming an important aspect for online businesses to look into as the digital landscape grows, so ensure you take a proactive approach instead of a reactive strategy.