Complete guide

Sniper Links How to increase your email confirmation rates


Do you want more user signups?

Well… a signup isn’t complete until new users confirm their email.

And there’s a little-known way to increase your confirmation rates by 7%.

It’s called the “Sniper Link” technique:

Sniper Link Example

So if you’re looking to improve your onboarding (and generate more signups), you’ll enjoy the actionable tips in this new guide.

Let’s dive right in.

(P.S. Don’t have time to read the whole thing? Grab the cheat sheet.)


Unconfirmed emails are wasted signups

Between 27% and 61% of your new users will never confirm their email.

There are 3 main reasons for this:

  1. Friction in your onboarding steps
  2. Spam folders snatching your email
  3. Distractions from other emails in your user’s inbox

Inbox distractions example

Luckily, we found a tactic that addresses those three issues.

In fact, it increased our email confirmation rates to 94%.

It’s called the Sniper Link technique.


What’s a “Sniper Link”?

A Sniper Link is a special link that makes it easier for new users to confirm their email after a signup. It typically simulates an inbox search, which minimizes distractions while leading users to the inbox of their email service provider detected on signup.
What is a Sniper Link

With Sniper Links, your new users will only see YOUR confirmation email in their inbox, nothing else. It works even if you landed in their spam.

This onboarding technique was coined by Dan Benoni in 2019.

How do Sniper Links work?

Sniper Links work by showing a customized link based on the email service provider (ESP) detected from a user’s signup. Complete Sniper Links simulate a search query in the user’s email provider inbox that will only show your business’ confirmation email, even if you were to land in the spam folder.

What’s the structure of a Sniper Link?

Here’s an example of Sniper Link for Gmail users:

This URL will simulate a search like this:

Sniper Link example in Gmail

Let’s break down each part of the URL:

  1. u/ (“Account scope”): The specific email account to open. Useful when users are logged into multiple email accounts.
  2. #search: Triggers the search query in the user’s inbox.
  3. (“From filter”): Forces the search query to only show emails from your domain or a specific email address.
  4. in%3Aanywhere (“Spam piercer”): Forces the search query to operate across any folder (not just your inbox). This means that the search result will also show results from the spam folder.
  5. newer_than%3A1d(“Time frame”): Scopes to only show emails received within the past 24 hours (instead of 1d, you could also use 1h for the last hour). This parameter is especially useful when your system relies on “Magic Links” because people receive several login emails from your domain.

Obviously, these are the search parameters for Gmail. But every email service provider has its own system. See below for the full breakdown.

Sniper Link feature support by ESP

Some ESPs support more Sniper Link features than others. Here’s a summary:

Gmail logo
Outlook logo
Yahoo logo
Proton logo
iCloud logo
Desktop Link
Account Scope
From filter
Spam piercer
Time frame
iOS Link

Sniper Link experiment results

We ran a split-test experiment using Mixpanel.

Inbox distractions example

The result?

  • Variant B brought a 7% relative lift to email confirmation rates.
  • We now have a 94% email confirmation rate on new signups.
  • Users confirm their email 10% faster (based on the median time).
  • This represents thousands of extra completed signups every year.

Now, let’s say your company is making $12M/year. A conversion rate improvement of just 1% that early in your onboarding funnel could mean +$120,000/yr for your business. So it’s worth considering.


How to implement Sniper Links

Creating a Sniper Link requires three steps:

  1. 👁 Identify
  2. 🎯 Scope
  3. 🔗 Link

1. 👁 Identify

When a user signs up, you first need to identify the email service associated with their address. You can do that in four different ways:

Option A: Email parsingEasyLowFree
Option B: Email validation serviceMediumHigh~$0.003/email
Option C: Email enrichmentMediumMedium~$0.08/email
Option D: Manual lookupHardMediumFree

Let’s cover each one step-by-step.

Option A: Email Parsing

There are two main reasons to opt for this option:

  1. You just want to start with a quick experiment
  2. Most of your users don’t use custom domains

For example, this would be a starting point for detecting some Gmail users:

’if (email.includes("@gmail") || email.includes("@google")) {

The only problem is that unless you’re a DTC/B2C consumer app, many of your signup emails will use custom domains (e.g., In that case, you’ll need to use options B, C, or D below.

Option B: Email validation service

If you’re like most established products, your forms probably already use an email validation service. These services protect your email list when spam bots try to overwhelm your signup forms.

But, some of those email validation services provide additional features.

One of them is the email service provider associated with an email address.

For example, we use ZeroBounce for our business. And Zerobounce’s API offers a new smtp_provider field that can contain values such as:

  • google for Gmail (e.g.,,, etc.)
  • g-suite, for business emails using GSuite (e.g.,
  • microsoft for Outlook (e.g.,,, or businesses on O365)
  • yahoo for Yahoo mail (e.g.,, etc.)

For Protonmail you can check if mx_record === "".

These values allow you to display a custom Sniper Link for each case.

Option C: Email enrichment

If you don’t use an email validation service, but you already use an email enrichment service like Clearbit, you could always use that instead.

For example, Clearbit’s API returns a field named company_tech that contains values like google_apps or outlook, etc. From there, you can match the email service provider just like we explained in step B.

Note that Clearbit is roughly 27 times more expensive than ZeroBounce for this use case. So this is probably not the most cost-efficient approach.

Option D: Manual Lookup

I’d only recommend this approach if:

  1. You already validated a simple experiment (see Option A: Email parsing)
  2. Your #1 constraint is your budget and
  3. You’re a developer.

In this case, you could create some code or use a DNS resolver library that automatically looks up the email server information of new signups.

Here are some link examples of resources:

2. 🎯 Scope

From there, you can generate the appropriate links for each provider. Here are some examples below. Make sure to replace the code variables and insert your sender email:

💻 Desktop📱 Mobile (iOS)

Note: the /u/0/ part of the Protonmail URL refers to the first user account. For example if someone has two accounts linked to their Protonmail session (e.g. accessed through /u/0/, accessed through /u/1/ ), this will only retrieve the first account. You could use an URL like to allow the person to pick their account, but by doing this, you lose the “From filter” and “Spam piercer” features.

Finally, on the page you show users after their signups, instead of passively writing “Check your inbox” as most companies do, you can display your Sniper Link based on the email service identified in Step #2: Scope.

Tadaaa 🎉! Now people will land directly on your email without being distracted, which is quicker for them and better for your onboarding funnel.


Examples of Sniper Links

Less than 1% of onboardings use Sniper Links (few people know about them).

So, if you want to see an example of Sniper Link in action, your best options are:

  1. Sign up for our newsletter for free here, and you’ll see how we adapt the post-signup step based on your email provider. Please note that this will be a real signup, so you’ll receive our future case studies.
  2. View this Sniper Link case study
  3. View this Trello case study

P.S. saw a Sniper Link example in the wild? Email us here. We’ll add it to the list.


Your next steps


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