Whoa – Spammers Signing Up for Newsletters?
Last weekend I finally took a moment to check out a big spike in newsletter sign-ups. Although I guest blog (sheownsit.com) and have my own marketing efforts, it seemed unusual.
At first glance I noticed a lot of yahoo.com email addresses. Because business owners typically do not use Yahoo for their email needs, I started Googling. And uh oh, the few email addresses I tried were all known spammers!
This prompted seven hours of list email address verification to determine legitimate sign-ups; then came additional research, and correspondence with MailChimp and the plugin developer for my newsletter form.
Now for those of you who are experienced MailChimp users – your first response is, "Dude, double opt-ins will stop spammers." Um no, spammers are confirming double opt-ins! Yup, that! MailChimp support is aware, and working on a solution.
Hero Plugin – MailChimp for WordPress
MailChimp for WordPress (affiliate link) comes in a Lite and a Pro version, and is a popular plugin. It has flexibility the embedded MailChimp form doesn’t offer. Also, it is highly rated, and I personally experienced part of the reason – excellent customer service.
MailChimp for WordPress has options many other plugins lack. Also, it’s specifically for MailChimp, one of the most popular newsletter providers for businesses. Integrations and multiple sign-up forms make this a great business tool and it’s easy to use.
I reached out to this developer about my spam problem. They welcomed specific information feedback and I applied their recommendation for the fix. I noticed a plugin update was applied the same day that probably addressed my issue. Now THAT is awesome.
Aging WordPress Theme Issue
Based on the update – it looks like it addresses older themes. I’ve said before that three years is long in the tooth for a WordPress theme. Mine has hit that anniversary. (Yup, I’m working on a new site, logo design is wrapping up.)
I checked with one of my other clients who isn’t experiencing the issue of spammy sign-ups. Sigh, my theme looks very guilty, so it was great of the MailChimp for WordPress developer to address older theme limitations so we can all enjoy protection against the latest threats.
So the Fix – Another Hero Plugin
MailChimp for WordPress wasn’t the only option; I also put in a support ticket with MailChimp. They suggested their embed form which has a Honeypot hidden field for spambots. But if spammers are constantly cracking our forms, there isn’t an easy way to update that embed code. I’ll assume you are not “code” inclined, so a plugin is far more practical to update with the latest preventions.
MailChimp for WordPress suggested I give Goodbye Captcha a try to see if it would stop my issue. Most spam tools are meant for comment forms, etc.; however, this one reaches the newsletter sign-up and it is quite powerful.
Goodbye Captcha – Goodbye Spam
On the first day I installed this plugin, the bot sign-ups stopped. WOOHOO! Just be sure in the “Subscriptions” settings area to click on “MailChimp for WordPress” so it will look for your subscription forms. Oh, and if you don’t have other tools covering brute force login attempts, this plugin can also address that.
There you go. Two awesome plugins I heartily recommend for MailChimp users.
What methods do you use for newsletter sign-ups?