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Email Verification: What, Why and How

Email Verification: What, Why and How

Beyond • June 14, 2017

It can come as a surprise: you sign up with a great new email service provider like Benchmark, you prepare to launch your first campaign, you upload your email list and then . . . your progress suddenly stops. You’re told you need to verify your email addresses. Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. We’re going to answer your questions and get you back on track. The bottom line is that email verification doesn’t take long, doesn’t cost much, and 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. 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 get proactive about verifying your emails to protect you from: Account Suspension 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 like Benchmark 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. Verifying an email list is specifically helpful for reducing your number of undelivered messages. Dismal Marketing Results Sending an email to a lot of addresses might make you feel productive, but if those addresses are not valid, you won’t accomplish what you set out to do. 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. That 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. Wasting Money Since email service providers like Benchmark base their pricing on the number of subscribers on each user’s list, keeping invalid email addresses in the system is a recurring waste. How does Benchmark know my emails need to be verified? Benchmark works with BriteVerify to perform a preliminary scan on a portion of your list. During the verification process, BriteVerify 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 flags users when the percentage of risky emails in the sample list exceeds its acceptable standard. In general, of course, it’s a good idea for everyone to verify their entire email list before importing it into an ESP. While Benchmark’s preliminary process helps assess your risk, it doesn’t subject your entire list to a complete scan. That’s where BriteVerify can help you. What kinds of emails are risky and how should I handle them? BriteVerify sorts emails into different categories, where “Valid” emails are not risky at all and “Invalid” emails are those you should obviously remove from your list. The remaining categories are a bit more nuanced. “Accept All” emails are associated with domains that accept everything that comes in - at first. These catch-all domains may have a firewall or other spam tool that could remove or bounce your email later. “Unknown” emails are associated with a domain that isn’t responding. This may be a temporary issue, but it still creates uncertainty. Since “Accept All” 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, consider the age and source of the data. In addition, BriteVerify also scans for and identifies two more potentially risky types of emails: role-based addresses and temporary addresses. Role-based addresses 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 email to such addresses results in a high complaint rate. Temporary or disposable addresses 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 is this going to cost? You can sign up for BriteVerify 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 costs $449.95 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 $360 per month. Without verification, the user is paying the higher price. The difference between the real world and the ideal world is a recurring loss of $89.95 per month or $1,079.40 per year. BriteVerify costs just a penny to verify each email - in this case, $1,000 for 100,000 addresses. Verification thus pays for itself in less than a year - and that doesn’t even account for the benefits of better and unimpeded marketing results. The benefits of cleaning your list are direct and measurable. Mike Means, Sales Channel Manager at BriteVerify, advises that \"continuously monitoring the quality of your emails before sending is becoming a ‘must do’ as email data is decaying faster than we think.\" 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. Citing MarketingSherpa research, HubSpot notes that “[e]mail marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year.” You didn’t validate your emails as they came in through webforms, allowing typos to enter your system. In addition to cleaning your existing list, BriteVerify can block typos at the point of entry. The list is peppered with role addresses (like sales@ or marketing@) or disposable ones. Even great marketers have bad emails on their list. They just know that by proactively removing them, they’ll achieve better performance, improve campaign measurement, and protect their campaigns from sudden derailment.


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