- On 08/10/2019
Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. If you don’t take proper care of it, you’ll lose the advantage email gives you over other channels: being able to contact your customers whenever you have a message to send instead of hoping they find you in search or on their social media feeds.
The problem is that as your list ages, bad addresses start to pile up. Companies go out of business or people change jobs. They get abandoned. Or, someone mashed the keyboard or gave you a temporary email address to get something from you, like a contest entry or incentive.
However they got there, those bad email addresses have to come off your list if you want to recoup your acquisition costs, drive conversions and sales, stay in touch with your customers and avoid deliverability issues.
That’s why you need email address validation – to identify risky addresses so you can remove them safely and keep your list in peak condition.
Whether you’ve been an email marketer for several years or you’re fresh on the scene, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term email validation.
Email validation is often touted as one of the most powerful ways to improve email deliverability, so it’s probably something you should do, right?
While the answer is definitely “yes,” there are a few things you need to know about email validation before you invest in a service. Namely, what exactly is email validation? Why should marketers care about it? What benefits does it offer?
Today, we’re breaking some important things about email validation that every marketing executive needs to know.
It helps you protect your reputation
Your reputation with mailbox providers is driven by many different factors. Your content, which people you send to, and whether those people engage or complain about your emails all feed into their picture of you as a sender. Having a bad sender reputation can reduce your inbox visibility, or cause your email to be quarantined or filed into the spam folder.
Sending to people who want your emails is key to being a good sender. One way that mailbox providers can tell that you’re not following this golden rule is if you send email to a lot of nonexistent addresses. Email validation can make sure the email addresses that people give you aren’t undeliverable so that you can avoid those hard bounces.
There are other indicators that can help you decide whether or not you want to actually send to someone. For example, role-based also known as shared email addresses tend to unsubscribe and complain more about emails. An email validation tool can help you avoid those hurtful subscribers.
Email address validation won’t help you solve two hygiene problems:
Cleaning up a “bad” list. Don’t expect to upload a list full of email addresses with sketchy permission statuses and have it come out sparkling clean (Kickbox’s terms and conditions specify that you must be able to verify the permission status).
Detecting spam traps. Spamtraps also called “honeypots,” are old but still deliverable email addresses that some blacklist services could use to identify spammers. A persistent myth is that verification or validation services can spot these addresses so you can remove them from your list and avoid getting blocked wrongly as a spammer.
The best way to avoid the spam-trap problem is to keep your list free of outdated or other questionable addresses through regular hygiene and real-time verification. Also, never buy or rent email lists.
Real-time email verification keeps invalid addresses from getting into your lists.
Regular list hygiene is a recommended practice for effective email marketing. But the best way to keep bad addresses off your list is not to let them get on it in the first place. That’s the benefit of using real-time email verification.
Real-time verification confirms each email address at opt-in, for newsletters and marketing messages, and on forms for account creation, downloads, event registrations, contest entries and other places where you require an email address.
It can spot syntax errors (forgetting the “@” symbol) and typos and prompt the user to fix them. You can also configure it to reject addresses using free email services if that is important to your business or block disposable domains.
Real-time email verification also reduces friction in the opt-in or registration process because you don’t have to add a “captcha” (clicking the “I am not a robot” box or typing in a code, both of which are hard to do on mobile screens).
Email validation will correct data entry errors.
To err is human — and some of us will err more than others. For example, a cashier bombarded by shoppers may inadvertently key in an email address incorrectly. Or a customer can accidentally mistype when entering their email address in a form.
These mistakes can prevent you from reaching someone, limiting potential revenue opportunities. But email validation can correct human mistakes, such as typos and misspellings.
Email validation assists you in avoiding spam traps and hard bounces
Old and unused emails are prime for becoming spam traps — that is, email addresses that are no longer active but still monitored. If you send a message to one of these traps, it could report you as spam, which hurts your sender reputation and negatively impacts your email deliverability.
Hard bounces — or email messages that are returned because the recipient address is either invalid or doesn’t exist — happen on occasion. People delete their addresses or enter a fake one for fear of receiving spam.
A few hard bounces every once in a while is to be expected, but regularly emailing known bad addresses can harm your sender reputation. Email validation helps eliminate this issue by letting you know which addresses on your list are likely to hard-bounce.
Email validation can be a true lifesaver for digital marketers. It’s a super-effective way to clean up your list and, in turn, increase the success of your campaigns. If you haven’t already, it’s well worth getting your list validated (and doing it regularly) to preserve your sender reputation.
Even “valid” addresses can threaten your list’s quality.
Some email addresses may be valid but don’t belong to an actual person or someone who is interested in your messages. Kickbox email verification is able to distinguish between emails with genuine recipients and addresses that are deliverable but meaningless to your email program.
Kickbox’s email validation service tags each email it verifies with one of four labels:
Deliverable: This email address is not just valid but also safe to send according to the Sendex, Kickbox’s proprietary database of known addresses.
Undeliverable: The address doesn’t exist, belongs to a closed account or has a syntax error (“email@example.com,” for example).
Risky: The address is deliverable but potentially low quality. It could belong to an “accept all” domain that accepts all messages sent to it. Or, it could be a “role” account, meaning it’s assigned to a job role (“firstname.lastname@example.org” instead of “email@example.com”). It could also be a disposable address that someone used once but never intends to check.
Unknown: No information came from the recipient’s mail server, probably because it was too slow to respond or wasn’t available.
Tip: Some “Risky” and “Unknown” addresses are still safe for sending but even though they have potential problems. Consider segmenting those addresses in your broadcast campaigns and watch opens, clicks and conversions to see if real-live people are behind them.
Validation isn’t enough on its own
Anybody can check an MX record on an email address. But the most reliable services check multiple sources. Kickbox, for example, uses a trusted network of millions of email addresses that tell us much more than whether an address is valid or invalid.
Email list validation pays off in the long run
You might have the most innovative email or marketing platform with all the best integrations and automations, but if your email list is stuffed with worthless data, you’re just making money for someone else. Regular use of an email validation helps you send better, reach the inbox more often, and stay connected with your active and engaged customers
It can increase your ROI
Email is one of the most powerful channels for marketers to drive revenue. But high ROI can hide opportunities for growth. There are hidden problems that are hard to detect that email validation can help solve to help you get more out of your sending. An example of this are human typos. When John is entering his email into your newsletter he accidentally enters “firstname.lastname@example.org” instead of “email@example.com.”
Without a validation tool, his typo will slip by unnoticed and you’ll lose the chance to email him. Tools like Recipient Validation can help catch these mistakes and other impactful issues that take away your chance to connect.