If you’ve ever had to work in email marketing, you’ve probably had a headache or two because of email verification (or a lack thereof). We’ll explain how email verification works and why it’s important to your email marketing.
Email marketing starts off simple: you do your best to get a few hundred people on your mailing list through blog content, lead magnets, and other opt-in goodies, and then you start sending email newsletters using a popular Email Service Provider (ESP). Congratulations, you’re now an email marketer.
But with time, you realize that something is going on… What was once an active and engaged email list is now one that’s on life support. Your emails aren’t getting through, they’re bouncing, and for every hundred subscribers, only ten are receiving your emails. That certainly is the case with 48% of global mail that’s being marked as junk.
What? How? Why? This is because your email deliverability is decreasing. Here’s an article we wrote on email deliverability explained in a way marketers can understand.
An important way to improve your email deliverability is through a process known as email verification, and to help you understand how it can impact the success of your email marketing, we’ve dug in deep. Let’s improve your email deliverability!
What Is Email Verification?
Email Verification is the process of verifying an email address is valid and improving the odds that it belongs to a real person. The whole purpose of email verification is to ensure that a real person with a valid email address will receive and interact with the sent email.
Email Verification of Your Subscribers
Typically, email lists degrade at a rate of 22.5% each year. This means that a huge amount of your mailing list subscribers’ emails won’t be valid after a year.
So what happens when you send an email campaign to a lot of addresses that aren’t valid anymore?
- Your bounce rate increases. This sends a signal to ISPs that your sender reputation shouldn’t be high.
- If your sender reputation isn’t high, your emails may not reach the inboxes of your customers with valid email addresses.
- You get poor email deliverability and open rates because you’ve been sent straight to the Junk folder.
All in all, you’re not making it to the inboxes of your subscribers, and that directly translates to bad ROI.
Verifying Your Email Address
Since there’s a lot of spam and frauds out there, ISPs are doing their best to protect their consumers from harm. Even though you may have the best intentions, you can still get falsely marked and blacklisted as a spammer.
We’ve written an article on how to authenticate your email address and improving your sender reputation so be sure to check it out and ensure that your emails are reaching your customers.
How Email Verification Works
Email verification is a process of verifying emails involving a series of steps that can help you improve your email deliverability.
The following is the general process on how email verification works, although different verification services have different steps and verification methods.
First, it identifies any issues and possible problems before they’re caught by ISPs or ESPs.
It’s actually just like spellcheck – making sure you haven’t misspelled anything before handing in that paper that’s due in 15 minutes.
Email verification usually involves checking your mailing list for spam traps – email addresses which have been created with the intention of capturing senders who aren’t following proper practices.
If you’ve been buying mailing lists, chances are you’ve got a few of them. But even if you’ve legitimately acquired email addresses, there can be one or two of spam traps on there.
Email verification makes sure that these addresses are removed from your mailing lists. Otherwise, if you send an email to a spam trap, you’ll either be asked to remove that address from your list, or you’ll be blacklisted by ISPs and ESPs.
The next thing that happens with email verification is that the provider checks the format of your emails (formatting & syntax check). This includes scanning your mailing list for missing @ symbols, invalid email addresses, and other things that could result in a hard bounce.
For example, if someone put in this email address: john@john@dd, this is where email verification would catch it.
The next step of the process is domain verification. The service checks the DNS records to make sure that the domain name is correct, and that the domain mail exchange server is able to receive emails.
For example, if someone entered this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, if there’s no domain registered under johnski.dd, email verification would mark it as not valid at this point.
The final step of the process is individual mailbox validation. For this, email verification services use the SMTP protocol to make sure that the mailbox exists and is able to receive messages.
Let’s use our John for this example, too. Let’s say John made a mistake and instead of writing email@example.com he wrote: firstname.lastname@example.org. The email verification would at this step send a signal to verify whether this mailbox is able to receive messages. Once it’s clear it can’t, you’d be notified that the email address is not valid.
If the email verification was performed correctly, congratulations, because you’ve just successfully protected yourself from potential blacklisting and having your email deliverability impaired.
That’s essentially how email verification works.
At mailfloss, we do a number of additional checks to remove low engagement and low quality email addresses such as role-based emails, disposable addresses, bounced emails, complainers who mark emails as spam, and so on. In all, we have over 15 checks that we go through to ensure we’re keeping your email lists as clean as possible.
How Long Does Email Verification Take and How Can I Do It?
Usually, email verification takes less than a second, and it’s done without sending out a single email (otherwise that would be very bad. Imagine receiving an email saying “Please respond if you are a real person”).
You should get your results right after email verification is complete. You can see which email addresses are hard bounces and should be removed, which are disposable and fake, and which are just straight-up invalid.
You can verify your emails by batch-uploading them to an email verification service, or by connecting an email verification API that checks your email addresses. The second is generally a better choice as you’re able to prevent issues from occurring in real-time, but require a developer and can be costly if you have limited budget and resources dedicated to development.
Batch uploading, on the other hand, doesn’t require development resources but is a pain in the ass in its’ own right. You have to export your email list from your ESP, wait around until the file is ready to download. Download it, then upload it to the email verification service, wait around, and then download the results. Then you need to go back into your ESP and clean out the list based on the results. Shoot me now. Does that sound like fun to you? Get out the paint, paint your desk. Watch it dry.
Or you could try mailfloss. It’s better than both options because it automatically handles the entire process from beginning to end for you. Simply connect your ESP, set your preferences, and let mailfloss handle the rest automatically (you won’t need to know how email verification works since it’s done for you).
If you want to make sure that you’re getting full email deliverability, make sure you’re also regularly updating and checking your mailing lists, and staying away from shady practices.
That’s what’s going to get you the best return on your email marketing investment.