Online retailers do a poor job of weeding out invalid e-mails consumers register at web sites, dealing a blow to e-mail marketing plans and decreasing revenue, according to a recent study from FreshAddress, whose services help marketers keep their e-mail lists current and accurate.
FreshAddress tested 14 types of invalid or bogus e-mails at 50 retailer web sites for its study. For instance, the vendor would register at a retailer site such e-mails as john_2010@yahoo,com (a comma is where a period should be) or firstname.lastname@example.org--(“hotmail” is misspelled) or john_2010@yahoo (the “.com” part is missing). The tests took place between May 27 and June 2, with e-mail addresses entered at the retailers’ primary registration pages.
FreshAddress found that the strongest performing site in the study, LLBean.com, operated by L.L. Bean Inc., No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, blocked only half of the 14 e-mails. The next best performers blocked only six. Those retailers are Amway.com, Drugstore.com, Netflix.com, Sears.com and VictoriasSecret.com.
None of the sites studied had a system that corrected common misspellings, typos or formatting errors, FreshAddress says. Additionally, 90% of the sites allowed e-mails with a “.cmo”—a common typo for “.com”—to pass through without error messages.
The company says that, based on its experience over the past decade, the percentage of invalid e-mails registered on web sites ranges from 2% to 20% of the total. FreshAdress estimates that a retailer that gains 500,000 e-mail addresss annually loses $200,000 a year in revenue by not fixing those faulty registrations.
“With signficiant budgets being spent on e-mail marketing, Internet retailers cannot afford to populate their e-mail databases with bad data,” the report says.