NOTE: Although the guide below details how to handle spam bots on Shopify stores, the general process can be duplicated for WooCommerce or any other eCommerce store.
You might have seen some customers show up in your list with seemingly real emails, but their first and last names are strings of numbers. These are bots registering as customers with stolen email addresses!
If you have an email provider linked to your Shopify store, you might be sending emails to people who didn’t actually subscribe. These bots that use real emails could be polluting your lists.
Sending emails to bots who signed up can hurt your business:
- Your open rates (and clickthrough rates) will likely be lower, skewing your data.
- You could be marked as spam, and the more often this happens, the more likely your emails will just default to the spam folder. This will also raise flags with your email service provider.
- If someone’s very first interaction with your brand feels spammy, you’ve likely lost them as a prospective customer. This is especially true of someone who's never heard of your brand before.
- If you use merge tags in your emails (i.e. |FNAME|) you will almost certainly come off as spam because the merge tags will be pulling number strings, which results in embarrassing openers like ”Hi 5873650274027, we’re so glad to meet you!”
- Your list size will grow, potentially pushing you into a more expensive tier and costing you more money.
This can be particularly nerve-wracking if your Shopify store has been around for a bit and you've only just set up your external email service.
And this was exactly the case for one of our clients:
We noticed that they were using MailChimp but their account wasn’t integrated with their Shopify store. So we set up the integration and – boom! Their list size in MailChimp nearly doubled, populated with thousands of contacts who had real emails... but whose first and last names looked like “58753037 521937392”.
Not only did the MailChimp account jump to a more expensive tier, but all these people immediately received “Welcome” emails AND the merge tags used the number strings!
I nearly had a heart attack, but it was a critical learning moment for the future.
Follow the steps below to fix this situation if it just happened to you, to prevent the situation from ever happening, and to even squeeze value out of these bot entries.
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Step 1: Identify the bot subscribes.
For those that haven’t connected Shopify to an email provider yet -- You’ll want to log in to Shopify and go to “Customers”. Then sort by name and see if any stand out. When we did this for one of our clients we saw tons of number strings. And they all started with 58.
If nothing weird shows up, you're good! Just check back once a month and see if there are any number strings in your list.
For those that already have the email provider integrated and synced -- You’ll want to log in to you email provider, go the list that is synced to the integration, and sort by name. Anything stand out?
If you are seeing a bunch of number strings in place of first and last names, is there a pattern? They’ll likely have some common denominator.
Step 2: Create the bot scrub automation flow.
Although I’ll be walking through the steps below using MailChimp, you should be able to easily replicate them with any email provider you use.
Our goal is to create an automation flow that removes any bot-like subscribers from our list, while turning as many bot inputs into real subscribers.
To start, create a new automation flow. Name it ‘Bot Scrub’.
Edit the ‘Action’ to ‘Delete from list’.
NOTE: AS you can see above, the bot entries used real email addresses! This is why we want to try to activate them into real subscriber via the email template shown a few steps below.
Next, edit the ‘Trigger’ to ensure the import option is checked.
After that's done, edit the ‘Segment’ to filter for all contacts with the bot pattern(s). In my case it was filtering for everyone whose first name started with “58”.
Now, let’s design an activation email for the bot subscribers:
- Let them know their info seems a bit off
- Leverage a CTA to drive them to create a real account
- Let them know that this email will remove them from the list
Here’s my example below. Feel free to borrow the template!
And that’s it!
Any spam bots that match the segment pattern will now automatically be sent an activation email and simultaneously be removed from your subscriber base.
You may want to check your Shopify store once a month or every two months to see if there’s any other bot patterns showing. If you find anything you can simply update the automation ‘Segment’.
And that's my quick and simple method for not only segmenting out and removing spam bot registrations from your eCommerce platform, but also potentially getting some good will (and even purchases!) out of those subscribers.
Have you tried this method or another similar to it? I'd love to hear how it went! Tweet at me at @EdPlotts.
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