When you are trying to generate leads, you must ensure that you are capturing high-quality data. This can be tricky, as even if you do everything right, you might not be able to reach your customers. This can have various reasons. Your customers might have misspelled something accidentally or on purpose or entered spammy data.
On the other hand, if you have a contact form on your website for your customers to reach you in case they need your help, you might face an overload of requests due to spam outreach.
Either way, form spam is a common problem for businesses that rely on forms to generate leads or get contacted by customers. However, you can prevent form spam in a few different ways. This article will explain what form spam is and how you can avoid it.
What Is Form Spam?
Form spam is a type of spam where spammers use automated scripts to submit fake or fraudulent data to forms on websites. This can be used to sign up for newsletters, register for accounts, or comment on blog posts. Form spam is a problem for many websites, as it can be used to impersonate real users or flood a website with fake data. This can happen through automated means or by manually filling out the form multiple times with phony information. Form spam can be a nuisance and make it difficult to get accurate data from your forms.
Reasons For Form Spam
There are a few different reasons why form spam exists. Mainly spammers are trying to use your platform to gain an advantage, whether to create false leads or promote their own products or services.
Here are some reasons why spammers landed in your form:
- Making you do their work: Spambots are very common, which is why there are ways to prevent them from accessing websites. A CAPTCHA, for example, helps to ensure that only humans can submit your form. If a spambot has posted a link in your comments or sent you one via a form, chances are it leads you to a site scammers are trying to access and have you do the CAPTCHA for them.
- Promoting their products: If someone offers you a deal on products that seems too good to be true, it often is. There are countless ways disreputable companies try to get your attention. Proceed with caution.
- Promoting their marketing services: You might already have experience with this since it is one of the most common reasons for spam. A marketing agency ensures you that you are missing out on traffic or that they can help you rank number one in Google for every keyword imaginable. There are a lot of really great marketing agencies out there, but they will not contact you via spam. If you are unsure whether it’s spam, just check how they rank in Google.
- Phishing: We all know about the dangers of phishing. However, it’s sometimes hard to spot it immediately, as so many strategies exist. Whether it’s imposing a real company or just giving enough information, so they get a response, the goal is to get your information. In form spam, most spammers are hoping for a personal response but are also happy with an automated one. All they are looking for is an email address or phone number for their spamming campaigns. In the worst case, they are trying to use your server to send their spam emails or calls to countless people, which can get you blacklisted.
Different Ways Of Form Spam
Spammers use two different methods to spam contact forms: automated or manual. While automated spamming is more common, there is a reason why manual spammers also play a significant role. Let’s take a closer look at the two different ways.
An automated spambot is the most common way for spam to land in your form. These software programs scan the web for contact forms, going through millions of websites daily. The bot then fills out the requested fields of the form, often with fake data, and sends spam messages. More “high-end” bots are AI-driven, which is why they can learn and adjust themselves. Spambots are responsible for the majority of contact form spam.
Another method used by spammers is to submit spam messages manually. This is done by real humans, usually in low-wage countries, who are paid to spam contact forms. This type of spam is more difficult to stop because it’s harder to distinguish from genuine messages, and people can get around most obstacles that were designed to prevent spambots.
Ways To Prevent Spam In Forms
No website is complete without a contact or lead form, so spam must be prevented or minimized. There are different ways to do that and tools that will help you with this challenge. Here are some of the most common ways to stop spam.
One way to prevent spam is to use a CAPTCHA on your form, a challenge-response test that helps to ensure that only humans can submit your form. It requires users to complete a task before submitting the form. This can be something like picking out all of the images that contain a certain object or solving a simple math problem. Either way, bots most times reach their limits when facing a CAPTCHA. However, sometimes this method can also be tricky for people to fill out, which is why some companies don’t prefer using CAPTCHAs.
Rename your form fields
Spambots are trained to recognize patterns. If they see a field that is named name, email, or phone number, they know what information needs to go into that field. If you, therefore, rename your user input fields to something that’s not as obvious, bots might not be able to detect it.
This method should not have an impact on real people’s information. However, if the bot is programmed well enough, it’ll figure out what you’re trying to do and edit accordingly.
This sticky method aims to trick bots while being undetectable to humans. When coding your form, you hereby add an extra field that is invisible to your real users but, since it’s included in the code, is noticed by a spambot. The bot is programmed to fill every field, including the trick one, which should then trigger a spam warning on your end.
Disable your autorespones
If spammers are only after your email address, sending out an automated response will give them exactly what they are looking for. Instead of confirming that the form has been sent successfully via email, redirect them to a “Submission received” site or work with such a pop-up.
Using an Email and Phone verification APIs
When working with forms, a great way to ensure quality data is by using verification APIs. These APIs are integrated into your forms and validate the provided information. A phone number verification API, for example, retrieves all the available information for any phone number automatically. This can help you filter out incorrect or non-existent phone numbers. Email verification APIs work in a similar way.
Add a random question
Similar to the CAPTCHA, you can also add a mandatory field with a unique question. The question can vary from a maths question, like “What is 7+2?”, to something more fun, like “what is your favorite color?”. Just make sure the questions aren’t too tricky so you don’t make it difficult for real people to fill out your form.
Preventing spam: A persistent battle
For as long as online forms have existed, so has spam. Spam is a persistent problem, and it’s not going anywhere. The best way to prevent spam is to be proactive and use tools that have been created specifically for this purpose.
There are many different ways to prevent spam, but the most important thing you can do is make sure you’re checking your email frequently and deleting anything that looks suspicious. You should also check your junk mail folder regularly to ensure that nothing has slipped through the cracks. If you’re not careful, spammers will take advantage of your inbox and fill it up with advertisements or phishing attempts.
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