Picture it: You sign up with a great new email service provider (like Benchmark Email). You’re excited to get started, so you prepare to launch your first campaign by uploading your email list. Suddenly, your progress stops short. You’re informed you need to verify the email addresses on your email list.
So, what exactly is email verification and why is it stalling your email marketing efforts? Email verification is actually greatly beneficial to your email marketing process, and it’s something you’ll be grateful for down the line.
If you aren’t totally convinced yet, don’t worry. We’re going to dive into the what and why behind email verification so you can get more familiar with it and see how it can significantly improve your marketing efforts. Let’s dive into the details.
What is Email Verification?
Email verification is the process of making sure the emails on your list are tied to an inbox. In other words, it’s making sure that the messages you’re sending have somewhere to go.
List Verification is the process of removing undeliverable or dangerous emails from your list. For example, when using Benchmark Email, our List Sampling Process deploys as soon as a user uploads a list into our system. This process checks for undeliverable emails and based on the findings, the list is either rejected or approved.
Why Should I Verify My Emails?
When it comes to undelivered messaging, blasting your emails to an unverified list could result in some unfortunate consequences. Email service providers, like Benchmark Email, are proactive about verifying your emails to protect you from:
Internet service providers, spam monitors, and email security services all set thresholds for spam complaints, undelivered messages, and unsubscribes. If you are emailing a stale or unmanaged list, you will likely cause a high number of all three.
Email platforms have an obligation to enforce these thresholds. If you exceed them, they may be forced to suspend your account to maintain their reputation and deliverability rates. This could also get your email blacklisted.
Verifying an email list is specifically helpful for reducing your number of undelivered messages. The lower your bounce rate, the higher your deliverability, and the better your chances are of making it to the inbox.
Dismal Marketing Results
Sending an email to a lot of addresses might make you feel productive, but if those addresses are not valid, you’re accomplishing nothing. After all, sending an email is a tactic. The underlying goal is to make a connection, which isn’t possible with an invalid address.
If too many of your emails bounce back, this can hurt your deliverability. This means that even valid addresses may not hear from you.
Plus, a high bounce rate can muddy your campaign metrics, making it more difficult to understand what’s working for the valid addresses on your list.
Since email service providers base their pricing on the number of subscribers each user has on their list, keeping invalid email addresses in the system is a recurring waste of precious marketing dollars. An added benefit to verifying email addresses is, therefore, cost optimization.
The Benefits of Email Verification: How it Impacts Email Marketing Performance
We have already discussed what happens when you continue sending emails to invalid addresses. Now, we look at the other side of the coin; what are the benefits of weeding out invalid email addresses?
Keeps Your Email List Clean
Every year, 37.5% of customer data becomes obsolete — that includes email addresses. This means that if at the beginning of the year your email list had 1,000 contacts, by the end of that year, 375 of those email addresses will be invalid.
Decaying of data happens naturally, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Job hops can be one reason for this. For example, 1 in 5 employees voluntarily changed jobs in 2020 When corporate email addresses are no longer active; your emails will be sent into the void.
Email verification is important because it helps prune invalid emails from your list to keep it up to date. As a rule of thumb, you should verify your list once every two months. Doing so wipes out invalid email addresses as a result of natural data decay and other factors, such as customers handing over incomplete addresses during signup.
Reduces Hard Bounces
Let’s say an employee on your email list changes employers, and their email address naturally becomes obsolete. If you send an email to that address, it won’t be delivered because the address doesn’t exist. This scenario is known as a hard bounce.
Here comes the benefit of verifying email addresses: when you clean your email list, it reduces the rate of hard bounces and the chances of your email service provider associating your IP with spamming. Ultimately, it improves your reputation as a sender and minimizes the chances of ending up on email blocklists.
Filtering out invalid email addresses from your list helps retain addresses that can receive emails — meaning higher deliverability.
A higher deliverability rate means better email marketing effectiveness. The more of your emails that safely arrive in the subscriber’s inbox, the more chance you have to improve open rates and engagement rates.
When Should You Verify Email Addresses?
There’s no doubt that verifying your email addresses comes with a host of benefits. It improves the effectiveness of email campaigns, enhances fraud prevention, and boosts the sender’s reputation. With that in mind, you need to set up a good email verification strategy.
When should you verify email addresses?
- Once every two months: Many email nurture campaigns last longer than eight weeks. By running your list through a verifier once every two months, you get rid of invalid and incorrect addresses before your next email campaign.
- Before sending out a campaign: You can also verify your email addresses if you need to launch a campaign right away, and it has been a long time since your last scheduled validation. It’s essential to prune invalid addresses that could have found a way onto your list in your recent list-building campaign. This way, you’ll keep the new campaign free of invalid and misconfigured email addresses.
- Real-time verification: The best way to keep your email list fresh is to ensure new subscribers are handing over valid and complete email addresses. With real-time verification, you validate newly acquired addresses to ensure they’re free of typos and fake accounts.
What Should You Do If You Have Invalid Emails?
Invalid emails are a ticking time bomb. If you don’t remove them from your list, they’ll soon impair your email campaigns. These invalid email addresses add no value. Actually, they inflate your overheads and could end up harming your email campaigns.
However, as valueless as an incorrect email address may be, it costs you time, money, and effort to get it on your list in the first place. This means that before you relegate it to the trash bin, you should try to salvage it.
First, filter out all invalid email addresses from your sending list, but don’t delete the invalid emails. Instead, establish why the address is invalid: it could be as a result of typos, the person changing position, the email server dying, or the domain becoming expired.
Here are some steps to take to recover an invalid email:
1. Check Email For Typos
Double-check the email address to see if there are spelling errors in the address. For example, the subscriber could have written “gnail” instead of “gmail.” Correct the typos, where possible, verify the address again and then add it back to your email list.
2. Check Email For Formatting Issues
Each email has three parts: local address, domain name, and domain identifier. Take firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact is the local address, benchmarkemail is the domain, and .com is the identifier. Usually, there’s an @ right before the domain.
Any email that doesn’t follow this format is deemed invalid. Are there wrongly formatted email addresses on the invalid list? Figure out what could be out of place and rectify the errors.
3. Reach Out to the Email Owner
If you use a CRM tool (such as BenchmarkONE) to manage your contact list, chances are you’ll have other ways to communicate with the email owner. If you have their phone number, reach out to them and ask them to confirm their email address. If that’s not possible, find them on social media — LinkedIn is a good place to start.
Note: If an address is invalid because the email server or domain is dead, there isn’t much you can do to salvage it. The rightful place for that address would be the trash bin.
Why Are so Many of My Email Addresses Invalid?
Here are a few reasons you may have a high rate of invalid or other risky emails:
- List decay – Email addresses don’t necessarily stay valid forever. People change jobs, get married or abandon accounts. In fact, email databases degrade by about 22.5% each year.
- You’re not validating emails – If you’re using website forms, landing pages, demo requests or other lead magnets to track new subscribers, great job! However, it’s possible you could be allowing typos to enter your system. In addition to cleaning your existing list, Kickbox can block typos at the point of entry.
- Too many role addresses – It’s possible your list is peppered with role addresses (like sales@ or marketing@) or disposable ones.
How Does Benchmark Email Verify the Emails on my List?
Benchmark works with Kickbox to perform a preliminary scan on a portion of your list. During the verification process, Kickbox checks email syntax (“does it have an @ symbol”), verifies its email domain (MX record) and confirms the address exists on the server using custom integrations. Benchmark Email flags users when the percentage of risky emails in the sample list exceeds its acceptable standard.
In general, it’s a good idea for everyone to verify their entire email list before importing it into an ESP. While Benchmark Email’s preliminary process helps assess your risk, it doesn’t subject your entire list to a complete scan. That’s where Kickbox can help you.
What Kinds of Emails are Risky, and How Should I Handle Them?
Kickbox sorts emails into different categories:
- Valid – emails that are not risky at all
- Invalid – emails you should obviously remove from your list
The remaining categories are a bit more nuanced.
- Accept All – emails associated with domains that initially accept everything that comes in. These catch-all domains may have a firewall or other spam tool that could remove or bounce your email later.
- Unknown – emails associated with a domain that isn’t responding. This may be a temporary issue, but it still creates uncertainty.
Since “accept ll” and “unknown” emails are risky, it’s wise to proceed with caution. If a large majority of the list consists of invalid, accept all and unknown emails, and consider the age and source of the data.
In addition, Kickbox also scans for and identifies two more potentially risky types of emails: role-based addresses and temporary addresses.
- Role-Based – addresses that are usually set up to manage an organization’s generic inquiries or issues. Examples include addresses starting with sales@, support@, or info@. These emails may be managed by several people across different departments. In general, sending emails to such addresses results in a high complaint rate.
- Temporary or Disposable – addresses that are created by users in lieu of using their primary address. Users may want to conceal their identity or simply be wary of joining another email list. Temporary addresses are valid and active for a while – in fact, users may share them with multiple organizations. However, they are more likely to be shut down after some time. Because of their temporary nature, they are identified as risky emails and should not be included in the imported list to Benchmark.
How Should I Verify My Emails and How Much Will it Cost?
You can sign up for Kickbox and verify your emails by clicking this link and following the steps.
As for cost, proper email verification can save you money.
For example, maintaining 100,000 subscribers in Benchmark Email costs $424 per month. If 20% of those emails are invalid (a realistic possibility), that means the user should ideally only be paying for 80,000 valid subscribers at a cost of $340 per month.
Without verification, the user is paying a higher price. The difference between the real world and the ideal world is a recurring loss of $84 per month or $1,08 per year.
Kickbox has paid plans but you can verify 100 emails for free.
The benefits of verifying your email list and cleaning it your list are direct and measurable. And by continuously monitoring the quality of your emails before sending is a must, as email data decays faster than we think.
Even great marketers have bad emails on their lists. But by proactively removing them, you’ll achieve better performance, improve campaign measurement, and protect your campaigns from sudden derailment. Hence, the importance of verifying your emails from your contact lists.