Marketers are increasingly pressured to do more with less. Often, this involves leveraging as many channels as possible, including email. In fact, 59% of consumers say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. Email is fairly flexible, easy to use, and cost-effective-a win-win-win.
But emails don’t always produce winning results, partly because companies fail to embrace email validation. Today, nearly 1 in 6 emails are blocked or sent to spam. Without email validation, you’re spinning your wheels, wasting precious marketing dollars on email campaigns that go straight to spam inboxes.
Following email validation best practices ensures that you’re collecting the right emails from the right people, all while maximizing email deliverability.
So, how does email validation work?
Below, we’ll share what email validation is, how it works, and how you can put it into practice at your organization.
What is email validation?
Email validation is a set of steps that confirm email addresses exist, are non-toxic, and are deliverable. The process of email validation involves a series of syntax, domain, and mailbox checks which highlight nonexistent or undeliverable addresses in lists or in real-time. You can use email validation techniques to scan your existing email lists for errors, and to make sure that any new email addresses that flow into your CRM are verified.
As much as marketers would like it to be a one-time activity, email validation isn’t something that you only do on a biannual basis. Companies are constantly collecting new email addresses-all of which have the potential to be fraudulent or contain mistakes. Plus, customers may move on to a different company and stop using their old addresses. People also frequently abandon free email accounts, and those abandoned accounts often get recycled into spam traps. And sending emails to fake or unused addresses can severely damage a company’s sender reputation.
That’s because Internet Services Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T; and Email mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook; continuously monitor accounts for suspicious activity. When ISPs or mailbox providers recognize consistent bounce behavior from a particular address, they will send legitimate marketing emails to junk or spam inboxes. So the more contaminated your list is with degraded emails, the greater the chances your emails will be delivered to spam or junk mailboxes.
Eventually, ISPs and mailbox providers will blacklist your company’s domain, and automatically send every single one of your emails to spam. Blacklists are shared among ISPs and mailbox providers. If you’re blacklisted by one widely known provider, you won’t reach a significant number of your prospects or customers.
Performing email validation early and often helps you avoid this circumstance by keeping bounce rates low. With improved deliverability, marketers benefit from better email open rates, contributing to a greater overall ROI. With the money saved by email validation, marketers can afford other high-yield marketing activities like SEO-driven content, pay-per-click ads, and even social media influencer campaigns.
How does email validation work?
Email validation providers typically offer two methods to verification.
- Real-time feedback: Some companies add an API to their web forms that automatically checks email addresses whenever there is a new submission. This real-time feedback keeps your email lists clean, even as you accumulate addresses over time. Keep in mind that this requires the help of a validation service.
- Batch verification services: Batch (sometimes referred to as bulk or list) verification validates enterprise email lists effectively. Bulk verification tools allow you to upload your list and then review a report that shows which email addresses have errors, have a high potential to hard bounce, or are simply invalid. Cleaning up your list helps ISPs and ESPs recognize your email address as a legitimate domain, thereby improving your deliverability.
Behind the scenes, automated features complete email validation steps: syntax checks, domain verification, mailbox validation, and spam trap and data protection.
Everybody makes mistakes-including users entering their email addresses in your forms. Even small typos like “email@example.com” or “example#yahoo.com” render an email obsolete.
Luckily, all email addresses follow the same set of conventions and rules, which makes catching typos much easier. Verification tools check email lists for:
- Spelling errors
- Grammar errors
- Extra spaces
- Unnecessary commas
- The proper use of @ symbols
- Period placement
- Domain name legitimacy
Because email accuracy is so critical, syntax checks are the core feature and first step in any email validation service process. Be sure to keep this feature in mind when you’re searching for the right validation software. A good email validation tool should be able to correct these errors, too.
The domain of an email is the part of an email address after the @ symbol. Domains need to be active to receive emails. The amount of available domains now spans into the hundreds of millions. Plus, the status of these domains is constantly in flux, though the major mailbox providers are typically exceptions. This means that a domain check is essential to validation.
This step confirms that a domain’s MX records are valid and properly configured to accept mail, which is crucial in preserving your sender reputation score. Sending messages to non-existent domains causes your emails to bounce, decreasing your authority in the eyes of ISPs and. One too many bounces, and your domain may be blacklisted.
Another key step in email validation is a mailbox check, which ensures addresses exist and can accept messages. Mailbox validation differs from domain verification in that it validates the part of an email address before the @ symbol.
The most sophisticated validation services can validate mailboxes without sending a single email. Instead, they ping the SMTP server and analyze its response code. Typically, this process happens in a matter of seconds, which helps you remove bad emails from your list and maintain a high deliverability rate.
Spam Trap & Toxic Data Protection
There are instances when an address has made it through a syntax check, domain verification, and mailbox validation but presents other dangers. Bad actors create email addresses to carry out nefarious campaigns or to capture senders who aren’t following best practices.
Finalizing all email validation with spam trap and toxic data protection can clear your lists of:
- Spam traps
- Frequent spam complainers
- Role accounts
- Malicious or bogus accounts
In order to maintain your sender credibility, you must prevent fishy emails from entering your database and remove the ones that have already infiltrated your lists. But not all email validation tools are capable of doing this research. If you’re considering an email validation solution, be sure to add spam trap and toxic data protection to your evaluation criteria.
Which emails should be verified?
All newly captured emails should be verified immediately. There are a few ways to get this done: through real-time API, webform integration, or scheduled nightly batches of all addresses that were collected thay day. This way, you can ensure that all newly collected data is correct, which is integral to
Realistically, a business should seek to validate their data lists a few times a year. A good rule of thumb is to validate any data that hasn’t been sent mail in four or more months.
Of course, the amount of times you elect to validate addresses truly depends on your business’ needs. If your organization mails to your full list every month, bounces will be scrubbed by the ESP. However, it’s best practice to prevent hard bounces before they occur.
Make the most of your marketing budget
Marketers desperately want to reach prospects and customers, but without employing email validation best practices, the chances of doing that successfully are slim.
Large organizations need real-time email validation solutions that prevent list contamination and need bulk verification services to complete their monthly list check-ups. Investing in comprehensive email validation systems helps marketers catch and correct inactive, inaccurate, or toxic emails and reduces the chances of lost leads by forcing prospects and customers to enter accurate information.
Greater inbox delivery is possible with a tool like AtData. Its ISO-27001-certified systems have the highest throughput, fastest response time, and lowest unknown rate on the market. AtData prides itself on its proprietary mailbox verification process, syntax and typo correction methods, and customized disposition codes, helping marketers identify and handle bad data the way they want to. AtData’s automation capabilities enable marketers to batch their validation and clean their email lists via SFTP, API, or the AtData website.
Eager to get more out of your email campaigns? Try AtData’s email validation services today.