How much of your website’s traffic is fake?

A study of 15,000 businesses by CHEQ found that 11.3% of inbound traffic to commercial websites was fake, and the percentage of fake direct traffic was almost double that amount.

When you want to expand your reach in the market, you need the freedom to target a broad audience – but securing your data can make that difficult. Affiliates in particular have to deal with challenges like cookie stuffing, brand poaching, and fake leads to ensure campaigns stay on track.

So what can you do to ensure quality traffic and legitimate data in 2023 and beyond? Maor Aharoni has devised a system for dealing with fake traffic and settling the conflict between marketing freedom and data security, but it doesn’t work with just one tool or tactic. In fact, Maor recommends a four-part strategy.

Tools to Protect Your Website From Bad Actors

The first step to secure your campaigns is to protect your paid acquisition channels from click fraud. There are many tools and solutions out there – ClickCease, Protect360, and TrafficGuard are a few popular examples.

It’s important to choose a solution that suits the size of your business, the amount of traffic you receive, and the spend in your campaigns that you have. Also, it’s important to monitor your affiliate partners to see what kind of traffic they bring in.

Next, clear any fake traffic out of your business intelligence and analytics systems. The best solution will help you detect what kind of traffic is arriving on your website and do a deep dive into analytics to identify fake traffic, bots, or even malicious humans. Your system should feed all that data and into your analytics systems so you can make decisions based on data that isn’t skewed by fake traffic.

4 Ways to Protect Your Systems From Fake Leads

Finally, and most importantly, you’ll need to protect your systems from fake leads. And this step is so important that Maor has laid out a four-part strategy that you can put in place right away.

1) Email Validation

Email validation is simple but very important.

There are easy-to-use and even fairly cheap solutions that can ensure you’re getting a legitimate email when someone fills out your landing page form. Typically those tools will ping an email to see if it works before letting it go through to your system. This should be fairly easy to install.

2) Bot Mitigation

The second part of the strategy is to secure your websites and landing pages with a good bot mitigation solution.

Bot mitigation, as the name implies, means that you’re stopping bots from spamming your website. Again, there are a lot of options to choose from in this space, so it’s important to find a solution that is designed for marketers.

Marketers want a frictionless journey for users, which means that you need a solution that won’t have false positives. The worst-case scenario is if your bot mitigation solution starts blocking real users because you’re losing out on real (potential) buyers.

3) Captcha

Captcha has been around for a long time. Even though it’s not the most modern or elegant solution for protecting yourself from fake traffic, users are familiar with it, and it still adds value by reducing the number of fake leads in the system.

4) Data Validation

Data validation wraps the whole security system up by tying back to the email validation tip above. If you collect different types of data in your forms, the right data validation solution for your business will determine if that data is legitimate before you start pursuing that lead with your marketing dollars.

If you’re collecting phone numbers, a free tool like Abstract API or NumVerify can confirm if the numbers you’ve received are legitimate. Other tools can do the same with physical addresses and other types of information so that you don’t waste time and spend your marketing budget on fake leads.

With these tools and systems in place, you’ll have more reliable data for marketing efforts and a minimum of wasted ad spend. And as bot traffic continues to rise with the backing of generative AI, protecting and legitimizing your data will only become more important in future selling seasons.