An image of a person holding a credit card in front of a laptop screen. The laptop screen shows a commerce website where there are discounts available for products.

Email domain verification – Simply not good enough

Offering a discount to academic users like students, faculty, and staff is a fantastic way to increase sales, grow revenue, and encourage long-term loyalty from your customers. There are over 183 million students enrolled in higher education globally and in the United States 36% of all people in the 18-24 year old demographic are enrolled in college or university. Unsurprisingly, this is also the same group of people with the least amount of disposable income as affordability of higher education continues to decline. While many businesses recognize the opportunity to cater to the academic tribe, they often implement sub-standard verification mechanisms like checking a user’s email domain which leads to increased fraud and the cannibalization of revenue.

Email domain verification a popular way for businesses to check a user’s academic enrollment status. It’s easy to implement due to the existence of catch-all top level domains like .edu in the United States or .ac.co.uk in the United Kingdom. However, if it sounds to good to be true, it usually is. Most countries do not offer top level academic domains and require you or your vendor to manage and keep up-to-date extensive, complicated lists. Email domain verification is also fraught with fraud as most colleges and universities issue academic email addresses for life, not just to currently enrolled students. This includes alumni and other un-enrolled students and staff. Some colleges even issue an academic email address to prospective students. Others use services like Google as their mail provider, which allows users to modify their address by adding a ‘+’, making it look like they have more than one email address. Fraudulent users know all of this and easily get access to academic associated email addresses that are used to take advantage of your academic-only offers despite not being eligible.

Email domain verification is also a poor choice as your primary authentication mechanism because the process required to accurately check a domain is arduous and complicated, leading to decreased conversion rates and higher numbers of abandoned carts. This is because the verification process is not instantaneous; users have to enter their school email (which is usually not their primary address), create yet another account (often with personally identifiable information that must be protected), wait for a verification email to be sent (which often gets caught in spam or blacklisted due to strict filtering policies in place by college IT staff), click a link (taking them outside of your purchase flow), and then manually apply a code that reflects the discount. A poor customer experience by any standard, even if they successfully complete the process.

To mitigate these risks and increase conversion rates, businesses using ecommerce should implement academic verification that instantly and securely authenticates and verifies eligible users. Proxi.id verifies academic users using single sign-on; students and faculty simply and quickly authenticate using their college or university username and password. There is no account to create, emails to get lost, and it all happens instantly in the shopping cart. Because of Proxi.id’s partnerships with thousands of colleges and universities in over 60 countries, enrollment is confirmed in real-time and near 100% confidence. It’s a better experience for your users, eliminates cannibalization of revenue though fraud, and results in more sales for you.

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