Discouraging Freemium Abuse with Email Address Verification
Oct 10, 2020 06:57
An effective way to convince target customers to use an enterprise’s product or service is to offer free trials or freemium plans. Some brands have been quite successful in using the freemium acquisition model. Spotify, Dropbox, Trello, and MailChimp are just a few examples. Aside from being a good marketing and pricing strategy, it also effectively brings down customer acquisition costs, allowing companies to maximize profits.
However, the free trial and freemium strategies are not without issues. One of the biggest challenges they bring is the risk of getting abused. This post tackles how website abuse occurs and how companies can avoid them when they verify an email address.
How Does Websites Abuse Happen?
By using the freemium model or offering free product trial periods, companies hope that end users would eventually convert and become paying customers. After all, every business’s goal is to increase sales and not just expand its user base.
However, freeloaders abound, and they find ways to use products and services for free even if their usage requirements go way beyond what is allowed. For example, an email marketing company offers a freemium plan that enables customers to send 2,500 emails per month. A freeloader would sign up multiple times to use the email service beyond the 2,500 monthly limits. Website abusers do this by:
●Using disposable or temporary email addresses when signing up for a free account
●Purposely using nonexistent email addresses for each of their free accounts
●Making up email addresses using valid email address providers
How Can Email Address Verification Minimize Website Abuse?
One of the first steps in discouraging freeloaders from abusing free trials is to verify an email address upon signup. Such a tactic requires integrating email address verification tools that can detect disposable and nonexistent email addresses.
Detect Disposable Email Addresses
The email address company@sharklasers[.]com, for instance, appears to be a valid and acceptable email address. However, when run through email address verification, a tool would detect that it was created using Guerilla Mail and is, therefore, a temporary or disposable email address.
Disposable email addresses can still receive messages. As such, even if companies verify an email address by sending email confirmation links through welcome emails, website abusers can still receive them and confirm.
Check the Existence of Email Addresses
There are also instances when freeloaders do not even have to create disposable email addresses. They can make up email addresses and use these to sign up. However, when companies put email address verification in place, website abusers cannot get away with this technique.
To verify an email address, Email Verification API checks if the email address’s mail server records exist. So when a website abuser signs up for a free account using the email address support@mycompany[.]com, it would fail the tool’s Domain Name System (DNS) check.
But suppose website abusers use valid email address providers such as Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and Yahoo? They would pass the DNS check since mail servers for these providers do exist. However, made-up email addresses, such as customersupportofmycompany@gmail[.]com and accountingdeptofmycompany@gmail[.]com, would still be flagged by email address verification tools.
These would fail the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) check of Email Address Verification API, which uses email-sending emulation techniques to verify an email address and check if it can receive emails.
To verify an email address and ward off website abusers, sending a welcome email is, unfortunately, not enough. It is best to employ an email address verification system at the onset of the signup process to discourage freeloaders. Doing this could also augment a company’s marketing efforts and enhance its cybersecurity posture.
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