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Email Verification 101

Email Verification 101 Featured Image

Email verification is an important but often overlooked step in any email marketing campaign, and as we’ve discussed before, dirty data can cost companies serious money.

Let’s look at what email verification is, how email verification works, and ultimately how you can use it with your email campaigns.

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What is email validation?

What is email validation In Text ImagesI’m glad you asked. Email validation is the process of making sure an email address is real and deliverable. Let’s look at it simply.

Let’s say you have a friend named Bob. Bob wants to get on your email list so he can get the awesome discounts you provide. When he gives you his email address, you notice that he misspelled his name, missed the period on the domain name, and even misspelled the domain name. People make mistakes, and you quickly get the right email address from him before adding him to your email list. Now, your email list is small, so you are manually sending emails to each person, and while doing this you notice Bob’s email bounced back. So, you reach out to him to ask what is going on and he informs you that he has changed his email address and the old one no longer exists. You get the updated email and Bob gets his awesome discounts.

Now imagine Bob ISN’T your friend, and you have an email list with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of emails on it. You don’t want to have to go through each of those emails manually and make sure they are spelled correctly AND actually deliver. That is where email verification (and validation) comes into play.

ISPs are constantly working against marketers. If even one percent of your email list is “bad,” it can drop your deliverability ten percent. As marketers, we need to do everything in our power to make sure our lists stay clean, and do our best to avoid hard and soft bounces, so that our offers can reach people who actually want to get them.

So how does email validation work?

So how does email validation work In Text ImagesBlack magic…sorta. Every company that does email verification has their own secret sauce to verifying your emails, but the basic process is this:

  • Check if the syntax of the email is correct. Is the formatting correct? Make sure there aren’t missing periods or characters that aren’t allowed in an email.
  • DEA (Disposable Email Address) detection. Did they generate a one-time email address for the purpose of bypassing a login or for getting an offer while avoiding spam?
  • Domain/MX records check. Is the domain/website even real?
  • Role Based Account Check. This looks at and catches all of the info@ webmaster@ admin@ etc. accounts.
  • Spam Trap Detection. This generally checks against known lists of email addresses/domains made to trap spammers.
  • SMTP verification. Does the mailbox exist, and in some companies’ cases, is there a history of it ever receiving emails in the past?

After verification, companies usually will provide you with a list of all of the emails it checked, if it passed their inspection, and if not, why. Some even provide a “grade,” where an “A” email is definitely deliverable and an “F” is an email to avoid. The grades in the middle denote how deliverable an email address might be.

My emails are verified, now what?

I’m glad you asked. Typically, companies have two ways they clean their lists.

Mass Cleaning

My emails are verified now what In Text ImagesYou would do a mass cleaning if you have never verified your email list before, or you bought/were provided with an email list that you requested. Basically, you have a plethora of emails that may or may not have some send data (sends, bounces, opens, etc.) but have never methodically removed BAD emails. This will involve sending your entire email list to be cleaned, and will provide you back with a file of which emails are safe.

Ongoing Validation

On Going Validation In Text ImagesYou have already verified your email list and now need to verify NEW emails that come in, either from forms on your website or other lead generation tactics. You want to make sure the leads are safe to send to before actually sending them emails. This can either be done manually on a frequent basis (daily, weekly, etc.), or you can use a verification service that has an API with your ESP so the emails are verified as they come in automagically for you.

Once your list has been verified, the work is not yet over. You need to separate the good from the dirty, and take appropriate action with each.

  • Good Clean Emails – Marked as safe to send to, and/or have previous open/click through data in your records.
  • Kinda Dirty Emails – Emails maybe have no history of sends to them, or have a lot of soft bounces to them.
  • Trash Emails – These emails have been identified as just plain bad. They have hard bounces, the domain is misspelled, etc.

No, these aren’t official names, but these are how I view the lists. The good clean emails are safe to send to. Resume business as usual for them. The other lists however need some more work. The Kinda Dirty emails and the Trash Emails need to be sorted through and updated. Did your new sales lead provide you with an info@email instead of their personal email, or did they perhaps miss the @ in their email? As each email is fixed, they can be added to the Good Clean Email list, or if a fix isn’t possible, deleted.

Let us know if you have any questions about email list verification, and may your list be clean from this point forward!

About The Author

Nicholas Ryan Weber
Nick is the mastermind behind all digital marketing efforts at Marketing In Color, from marketing automation to analytics and everything in-between. A LA native, he actually began his career behind a camera, working on TV shows and films. Now his infinite energy and curiosity serve him well as he revels in the ever-changing opportunities of today’s digital world.
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