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Have you noticed a bounce rate that is higher than usual on your latest email blasts? You may have a surge of clients (or bots) signing up for your services hiding their real identity behind disposable email addresses.

Disposable email addressing (DEA) is a tool that many people use to create email addresses that pass the validity requirements to sign up for websites and services without having to disclose their personal email address. These email addresses are typically automatically generated and stay accessible long enough to confirm one’s sign up for a site or service, but they will then be deleted. That time frame can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 months, but not typically longer than that. This makes those clients mostly unreachable via email, but they can still access what they’ve signed up for as long as it’s not otherwise email dependent.

Not all DEAs are the same, though. Some DEA services are specifically designed to provide a one-time-use address, and some are designed for the longer term to act as a masking and forwarding service to real email addresses. While there are many well-meaning consumers that use these services to protect their privacy and keep their real email address out of the hands of spammers and companies that sell email addresses, there are also plenty of people and bots out there using DEAs to create fraudulent accounts and websites for scams and other malicious purposes.

There are now thousands of domains through which users can generate some form of disposable email address. These can be very problematic for small businesses with limited resources. Maybe you don’t use a CRM or email platform, or maybe a software license limits how many contacts you can store before upgrading. With bogus email addresses taking up a large chunk of your space, it’s really important to be aware of their existence and how to make sure they don’t trip you up too much.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how you can minimize the frustration that disposable email addressing may cause your business.

Recognize DEA Domains and Addresses

  • As stated before, there are over 1000 domains that provide disposable email addresses. Some sites have 5 or 10 domains (@whatever.com) that they will assign to their generated emails. The addresses are often long strings of numbers or numbers and letters that don’t tend to make a whole lot of sense.
  • Some DEA providers have smartened up and can create an email address that mimics a real name and populates the matching name into the First Name field of a site’s sign-up form. This isn’t the only way DEAs are formatted, but it does cover a large chunk. Take a look at this list to see some of the common domains used. Having an understanding of what these email addresses tend to look like can help you to decide if you need to take further action.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Allowing DEAs

  • Each business will be affected differently by taking action against temporary email addresses in sign-up forms. If your business model is dependent upon clients having valid email addresses so that you can reach out to them with product updates, outage notifications or marketing then it may be worthwhile to do something about DEAs. If you’re not dependent on these email addresses and you’re not dealing with any malicious or fraudulent users with DEAs, you may be able to just leave the issue alone.
  • Cracking down on DEA sign-ups can cause a loss of legitimate customers who just want privacy, but it could also save you from some malicious users. It’s up to you to figure out which is more important to you based on the problems your business is facing or could face as a result.

Clean up your CRM or Customer Database

  • Whether or not you’re thinking about blocking DEA users from signing up from now on, it is a good idea to go through and try to clean up your customer database as much as possible. For the purpose of email marketing, these bogus emails appear as undeliverable and will lower your sender score if you continue to send emails to them! This is more the case for the disposable email addresses than the masked email addresses I mentioned earlier.
  • In addition to cleaning up your email list, it is also very smart to use a double opt-in for email addresses where you plan on sending regular communication to. Most of the unwanted email that is created nowadays is a result of companies not asking clients if they want to receive emails, but assuming that because they provided their email address they also want to receive emails. If you’re not using a double opt-in, you are part of the problem!

Dealing with these disposable emails can be a hassle, I hope these tips help you prepare for or get over that hurdle!