When Consumers Enter Invalid Emails at the Point of Registration, E-Tailers’ Bottom Line Suffers; Email Address Validation Services are Key to Success

Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, Chicago, IL – June 10, 2008 – FreshAddress, Inc., a leading email database services provider, today released its 2008 study of fifty top e-tailers’ ability to catch email registration errors. This study, completed in June 2008, is the second in a series of examinations of the email validation practices of leading internet retailers. It found that none of the websites tested successfully blocked all common email typos, costing companies millions of dollars annually in lost revenues and wasted marketing dollars. Furthermore, none of the retail websites tested offered suggested corrections to consumers for common spelling errors.

"It’s widely known that email is a highly-effective marketing and communication tool," said Austin Bliss, President, FreshAddress, Inc. "But our study reveals the sobering truth that e-tailers are still behind the eight ball when it comes to flagging invalid email addresses at the point of registration."

FreshAddress’s research tested fifty top retail websites (defined by Internet Retailer, 2007) with the same thirteen invalid email addresses. Websites tested included nikestore.com, itunes.com, dell.com, and amazon.com. Invalid addresses tested included typographical errors, syntax and formatting mistakes, top-level or “dead” domains, as well as bogus email addresses. The objective of the study was to determine which of these highly-trafficked, well-known brands with strong revenues tied directly to email marketing campaigns were employing effective practices when collecting customer email addresses on their websites.

Highlights from the study include:

E-tailers still struggle with “Garbage In, Garbage Out” syndrome and customers are left guessing:

  • No website blocked greater than 37% of the invalid email addresses tested.
  • No websites offered a correction to consumers for common spelling errors.

“Best” performers still have work to do:

  • The strongest performing companies in this study, each blocking only 6 of the 13 invalid email addresses tested, were BassProShops.com, Bodybuilding.com, Gap.com, Netflix.com, Palm.com, Petco.com, Spiegel.com, and Talbots.com.

E-tailers are flagging more syntax errors; however, misspelled, dead, and suspect emails are still getting through:

  • None of the websites tested flagged common misspellings (ex: “yaho.com), dead domains (ex: “attbi.com”), and suspect emails (ex: test@test.com).
  • Twenty-four percent of websites tested allowed an email with a double period (.) to pass through without an error message (down from forty-four percent in 2006).
  • Twelve percent of websites tested allowed an email with a double @-sign to pass through without an error message (down from sixteen percent in 2006).

The 2008 FreshAddress study illustrates the danger of not investing time and money upfront into collecting accurate email addresses—significant revenue losses, wasted marketing dollars, dissatisfied customers, ISP blacklisting, and resources required for subsequent data clean up.

"Our study clearly indicates that while retailers have made some progress since our 2006 study, they still have work to do when it comes to improving email data collection," Bliss continues. "By investing in effective, user-friendly options for improved email address validation, retailers will build trust with their customers and save millions at the same time.”

Obtain a copy of the FreshAddress 2008 Email Address Validation Study of 50 Leading Retailer Websites at www.freshaddress.com/whitepapers or by contacting FreshAddress, Inc. at 617.965.4500.