What are spambots and how do they affect my reputation?
Bots comb the internet for public email addresses, which are usually invalid or inactive, and store them in a database. Bots may also use purchased lists. They use these email addresses to attack your webpages and submit information to your forms. Not only can they overload a server, the bots can also damage your list and sending reputation with email providers, like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. Because most of the email addresses are invalid, they will bounce your messages almost immediately after being added to the list. They also can damage your open and click stats. Consistently sending to inactive subscribers and having a low open rate can damage your sending reputation.
Beyond that, sending to these email addresses is considered spam because they didn't explicitly consent to receive your messages. Bounces, low engagement, and spam complaints contribute to your deliverability and can cause your messages to end up in the spam folder. There are steps that AWeber takes to help prevent bots from attacking your sign up forms and API integrations, but there are additional steps you can take too.
How do I know if my list is being hit with spambots?
Although there isn't a universal criteria to spot a bot, they sometimes have a string of numbers and letters in the name field, and a large number of them will most likely be unsubscribed from bouncing a message. If you're concerned about any email addresses on your list, you can delete them and even block them from signing up in the future.
How does AWeber protect my sign up forms from spambots?
Native AWeber sign up forms include a CAPTCHA by default. Bots cannot get past the checkbox below.
A captcha element would appear if the IP address used to submit the sign up form was recently submitted within a short time period.
Beyond that, our native forms can detect when there are misspellings or errors in email addresses. For example, if you tried to sign up to a list using a Gmail address and typed @gmail.co instead of @gmail.com, you would see the error message below.
If there are multiple submissions to a form in a short time period, you will see the error below and will not be able to submit to the form for a length of time.
There are also certain instances in which a confirmation message will send as a default, even if confirmation is disabled for forms on the list.
If you are using a sign up form that you connected to your list through a third-party service and our API, then there are other security measures in place to help protect your list. There are steps that you can take, as well, which we have outlined below.
How can I prevent bots from signing up?
One of the best ways to prevent bots is by sending a confirmation message. If a spambot attempts to sign up to your list, the confirmation message will most likely bounce and they will be unsubscribed immediately. If the email address is still valid, but inactive, then they won't ever click the link to confirm. Any subscribers who do not confirm will remain in "Confirmation Pending" status and will be automatically deleted after 30 days. If you decide to enable confirmation for your list, you can customize the confirmation message to include details about your content and what subscribers can expect from your list.
Another way to prevent spambots is by implementing a CAPTCHA element on your form. As we discussed above, native AWeber forms have a built-in CAPTCHA, but if you're using a third-party integration through our API, we recommend enabling the CAPTCHA element. If the service does not offer CAPTCHA for their forms, then you should reach out to their support team to request this. You should also consider using another integration or using an AWeber form.