Study: E-Commerce Sites Flunk E-Mail Validation

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E-tailers are slow to discover e-mail address entry errors that consumers commonly make when registering at Web sites, according to a study released today by e-mail database services company FreshAddress.


Though the results are in the interest of FreshAddress, which provides e-mail validation services, the company claimed that an independent third party could replicate the conclusions reached in the study.


FreshAddress conducted the study by selecting the top 50 retail Web sites from Internet Retailer's list of the top 300 and performing nine tests on each. To test the sites, FreshAddress employees attempted to register nine times on each site. Each time, a different commonly made error was used. The nine errors tested were:


· Out of business domain name


· Misspelled domain name


· Two @ symbols


· Missing ".com"


· Comma instead of period


· Didn't hold shift down for @ symbol


· Misspelled "com"


· Two periods


· Bogus "test" e-mail


Of the 50 sites tested, Gap Inc. had the best results with only one invalid e-mail address getting through the registration process at gap.com. The error not caught was the dead domain.


Within the remaining 49 sites, 16 percent allowed six or more invalid entries, 20 percent allowed five invalid entries, 50 percent allowed four and 10 percent allowed three.


Overall, 100 percent of the sites tested failed to block at least one invalid e-mail address and 98 percent failed to block two or more.


The top errors not found upon registration were dead domain at 98 percent, misspelled domain at 96 percent, bogus "test" e-mail at 92 percent and misspellings of com at 84 percent. Other errors came in at 44 percent for two periods, 16 percent for two @ symbols, 6 percent for missing ".com", 2 percent for a comma instead of a period and 2 percent for not holding the shift key for @ symbol.


The tests were conducted Dec. 29 and Jan. 3. E-commerce sites tested included 1-800-flowers.com, amazon.com, bestbuy.com, coldwatercreek.com, landsend.com, netflix.com, overstock.com, sears.com, target.com and williams-sonoma.com.


FreshAddress Inc., Newton, MA, provides e-mail validation, appending and change of address services. It has an opt-in database of about 200 million records and also has partnerships with database providers Acxiom, Equifax and infoUSA.


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