You’ve been diligent about your sender reputation. You know that it impacts how the digital gatekeepers at Gmail, Yahoo!, and other email providers view your sending domain, so you’ve been keeping best practices in mind by:

  • Honoring unsubscribes as quickly as possible
  • Adopting an opt-in policy
  • Pruning dead email addresses
  • Looking closely at bounce codes
  • Making your emails worth people’s effort to open them and click a link or two
  • Creating and executing a warm-up plan before you start sending emails from a new IP address

But you may not have considered one place that can negatively impact your recipient list and lead to a poor sender reputation: your sign-up form. It’s the first line of defense against ensuring that your customers provide correct email addresses.

One wrong character in an email address can create a bounce-back, or it can put your message in the wrong person’s inbox, which can lead to them clicking the unsubscribe link, filing a spam complaint, or simply never opening the email. All of those results negatively impact your sender reputation, which harms your ability to get emails into your customers’ inboxes.

But don’t worry – here are 5 best practices to help you prevent typos in your customers’ email addresses when they fill out your sign-up form.

1. Require them to enter their email address twice and check that they match

That’s a pretty common tactic to ensure an email address is correct, but go one step further by not letting them copy and paste from the first email field into the second one. That way you know that the email address is probably right, since there’s a decent chance that if the user typed the address wrong the first time, they’ll get it right on their second try. Then they’ll be alerted that the addresses don’t match and will fix the problem.

Doing so will add some friction to your sign-up process and could increase drop-off rates, but if you’ve had problems with typos in email addresses, or you foresee it could be a problem, this is likely a worthwhile trade-off. Yes, the owner of [email protected][insert a domain].com may be annoyed, but to be fair, perhaps they should rethink that address.

2. Send an opt-in email to verify the email address

Many companies don’t do this, since it adds a step to the sign-up process and there’s a good chance people will miss the email, or it will never land in their inbox. Then they’ll be left wondering what happened to that thing they signed up for, and they might complain on social media and other places online.

We understand why it’s better to just take the email address they submitted and add it to your list, but the opt-in is a nice way of double-checking that it’s correct. If you decide to implement such an email, this verification from Jimdo is a good source of inspiration. It has a handy button, along with a link that can be copied and pasted, and it ends with a breezy PS to ignore the message if the recipient didn’t create an account, so they hopefully don’t file a spam complaint.

3. Offer a social media sign-up option

The nice thing about letting people sign up with a social media account is that it provides a one-click option that’s about as friction-free as possible, unless they’re not currently logged into that social media account on that device. And you know there’s a good chance that the email address they provided to that social media service is valid.

However, many people shut off email for social media, opting instead for on-device notifications, so they may be using a different email address than the one they provided when signing up many years ago. That old email address might be defunct, it could belong to someone else now, or perhaps they rarely check it anymore – all of those things can ding your sender reputation.

If you do provide a social media sign-up option, make sure you offer a standard registration form too, since some people are leery of giving third parties access to their social media accounts, no matter how benign the intentions may seem.

4. Give people a reason to not sign up with a fake email address

No matter what you do to avoid typos in email addresses, sometimes people purposely sign up with fake email addresses, or so-called burner accounts. That way they can get what they need without dealing with marketing emails, or because they’re not sure they can trust the site.

In fact, there are several services, such as 10MinuteMail, that let users create an email account that doesn’t even live as long as a housefly, simply so they can click a confirmation link or deal with a similar task. Once they do that, your database contains a seemingly valid email address that will start generating bouncebacks and – you guessed it – hurt your sender reputation.

To counteract that problem, make sure you’re clear about how often you’ll email them once they sign up. If they’ll never hear from you unless they need to do something like reset a password, then make sure you’re up front about that, because most users will love you.

Even if you’re going to send them marketing messages and triggered emails, you can still put people at ease by offering them options, such as message frequency and type of contact. If someone considering using 10MinuteMail knows that they can tell you to only send them triggered emails tied to specific account activity, they might be more inclined to give you their actual address.

5. Check out SparkPost’s Spam Trap Monitoring and Recipient Validation tools

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that SparkPost knows a thing or two about email deliverability, since we send 37% of the world’s B2C and B2B email. One of our tools that helps our customers with their sending reputations is Spam Trap Monitoring, which lets senders know how many spam traps they’re hitting, and what types they are.

Spam traps are a way to catch spammers and otherwise well-intentioned senders who don’t follow good list hygiene. They’re email addresses that seem legit but aren’t, and they come in a variety of forms – we have a blog post that contains all the details.

We also offer a feature called Recipient Validation that verifies email addresses are valid before you send them a message. It’s a great way to catch addresses with typos, burner accounts, outright fake addresses, and other problems before they negatively impact your sending reputation. Check it out.

~Erica