Complete Guide to Email Address Mistypes
Ben - Monday, February 25, 2019
This guide is intended for marketers. We investigate a rarely discussed aspect of your data collection method - email address mistypes. Applying this fix might just give you that final percent improvement in conversion rate you are looking for.
What is an email address mistype?
Think about the website form where you are doing your lead generation. Depending on your business this may be a newsletter sign-up page, a checkout or a contact form.
You have a box on that form that asks the visitor to type in their email address. Are you only after leads that have a typing accuracy of 100%? I wonder what your typing accuracy is?
Here’s a test, in case you want to find out: https://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/
I scored 97.06% on my first try. I was a bit disappointed with that but the tool said average was 94.03% so that made me feel a bit better. If your visitors have this typing accuracy for their email address that’s potentially almost 6% lost leads.
So a mistype is when someone thinks they are submitting their email address but accidentally mistypes it. Read on to find out why that’s not good and what you can do about it.
Does this only apply to online lead generation?
No - it could also apply to leads collected in person or on the phone where there is further scope for error in a verbally communicated email address. For example, if your call centre staff don’t correctly hear the email address it could be entered in to your database incorrectly.
What your customers think of mistypes
As the potential customer, I’ve come to your website and been engaged. I want to sign-up or get in contact. When I type in my email address and submit the form I probably get some sort of welcoming confirmation, such as “We’ll be in touch”.
After a couple of days the customer is left wondering why they haven’t been contacted.
The disappointment soon turns to frustration. Some will even share their negative experience with others. This can have an impact on your brand and can lead to lost sales.
Who will realise that it was due to a mistyped email address in the website form?
Mistyped email addresses can be valid
You are possibly thinking you are safe because you use an email validation service. Maybe not.
An email validation service will typically check the email address to make sure it doesn’t bounce, before you add it to your email list. This is a great idea. Hopefully your email validation is integrated with your website form. So if someone puts in an invalid email address you tell them straight away so that they can put in a valid one.
But did you know that a visitor could mistype their email address and pass all the checks by you email validation service?
Here are a couple of examples:
Put these in your website form and see what happens. Can you submit the form? Are you added to the database? Does the email get received? The last one is definitely a "no".
The domains in the examples above are actually registered and have an email server waiting to accept emails.
How to find mistyped email addresses in your database
So hopefully now you understand the problem. Time to see if you have any mistyped email addresses in your database.
If you have a CRM like Mailchimp this is easy. In their search tool try some of these mistypes.
If you are old-school and do your database searches using SQL then try something like this to find all gmail.com mistypes where a character has been double-typed, e.g. gmmail.com. This is for SQL Server 2008 or later.
DECLARE @correctDomain varchar(MAX) = 'gmail.com';
WITH n(n) AS
SELECT n+1 FROM n WHERE n < LEN(@correctDomain)
FROM Users u
SELECT SUBSTRING(@correctDomain, 1, n) + SUBSTRING(@correctDomain, n, LEN(@correctDomain) - n + 1) AS domain
ON SUBSTRING(u.EmailAddress, CHARINDEX('@', u.EmailAddress) + 1, 100) = doubleCharacter.domain;
What to do about it
We’ll look at two possible solutions to help reduce the number of mistyped email addresses being submitted on your website forms.
Solution 1: Double entry
The double entry method is often used for password confirmations. It can be used for email input too. You just need to put two email inputs on your form and then compare them to make sure they are the same.
The theory is that two identical mistypes is very unlikely. However, what is more likely is that the visitor decides to copy and paste their first input to the second. Including any mistypes!
Solution 2: Mistype detection
You can put some logic in your website form that looks at the email address which was entered and detects if it is likely to be a mistype. You can then show the suggestion to the user, giving them the option to correct it before the form gets submitted.
This is commonly called “Did you mean?” as the prompt to the visitor is “Did you mean firstname.lastname@example.org?”.
There are two types of detection - static or dynamic. Static uses a common list of mistyped email domains. The domain is mapped to the suggestion and displayed to the user. This can happen entirely on the client-side in the page.
The other type is dynamic detection. This is a bit more clever as it uses rules to score the likelihood that the email address has been mistyped. These rules may change over time as the system learns from the data. Generally this is done by sending the response off to a server which comes back with whether it is a likely mistype and what the suggestion should be. This type of detection will have a better mistype detection rate.
A key part of the solution is the user interface. To give a positive user experience it should work seamlessly in the website form - making it clear what is happening and what is expected of the user (to accept or reject the suggestion).
ZingVerify is the only provider that puts all these ingredients together for you, along with full mailbox level email verification. It uses dynamic detection and real-time server side logic. Many other providers use static detection methods. ZingVerify also has the benefit of simple website form integration that handles all the user interface for you.
If you want to keep your customers happy and also maximise the potential of your marketing campaigns, it’s worth a bit of time implementing a solution for mistyped email addresses. In marketing, every new lead counts.