*A consumer survey by Loqate showed that in the US, 70% of consumers check their emails at least once a day. In the UK, the number stands 72%. In another study conducted by the Radicati group INC. in 2017, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will reach 269 billion, and is expected to continue to grow at an average annual rate of 4.4% over the next 4years, reaching 319.6 billion by the end of 2021. *
It, therefore, goes without saying that email marketing is the most effective and formidable channel for businesses to engage with consumers, drive traffic, and generate sales. The foundation of email marketing is a mailing list and the efficiency and success of email marketing campaigns are dependent on the health of the built mailing list. And, no matter how careful you are in your email address collection process, only a handful of email addresses collected will be accurate. This bad data is a result of using unreliable data sources or subscriber errors.
A subscriber may change their email address, delete it, change email service providers, attain another address due to a change in job positions or sign up with a fake address. These changes are not updated in the email list. Undeliverable or bounced emails waste time, money, and the company's reputation, hence the need to use an email checker, also known as email verification. Email checker is a tool used to verify the validity, accuracy, and quality of an email address. You enter the email address and it tells you if it's real or fake.
How it works
There are two ways of checking the validity of emails; a custom procedure that does not require an email verification tool, and the use of email verification, which is most effective. The custom procedure works through the re-typo method and the double opt-in method. The Re-typo method works by avoiding spelling mistakes such as firstname.lastname@example.org while the double opt-in method works by performing two steps of verification. You fill out a sign-up form, send it, then you get a verification email link which you have to click to confirm your email.
Email checkers use bulk email list verification or real-time verification. These are discussed later in the article. Email checking is done in three steps, though not all email verification tools can perform all the steps.
1. Syntax/formatting checking: Email syntax refers to the order in which an email is meant to be created. The email address is checked against the syntax of major email service providers like Yahoo and Gmail to ensure they meet the basic criteria such as the inclusion of an "@" sign. Email syntax is configured with IETF/RFC standard. Email formatting is complex rules that dictate permutations which are acceptable usernames for email addresses. Invalid syntax includes the inclusion of 2 dots, missing TLD such as -com, missing "@" sign, use of extra spaces, and missing "dot" between domain and -com.
2. Domain/Server checking: Checks the validity of the domain name and if it is configured to accept emails. It checks the DNS server or MX records for the domain name. The email checker tool runs tests on the mail exchanger to see if it's valid and able to accept mails. Domain testing will help determine the addresses that are real but unable to accept emails because of being full.
3. Mailbox checking: In this step, the part before the “@” sign is verified. The email checker contacts the SMTP server and pings the email address with an EHLO message and waits for confirmation. A positive confirmation indicates the mailbox exists and if it can accept emails.
The results of email verification classify emails as Safe to Send, Accept-All, Disposal email, Free service, Role-based, invalid, and many more. The speed of verification is dependent on the size of the mailing list, newer anti-spam systems, the age of the mail servers, and how busy they are. After cleaning the email list, stakeholders can now decide whether to quarantine, retire them, or keep them in their subscriber list. However, some email servers do not co-operate because they do not accept verification checks on their mailboxes, leading to inaccurate results.
There are several benefits to using email checkers:
1. Ascertains the accuracy of data. Success in digital marketing is dependent on the health of your mailing list. Email checking helps you verify the quality of your email list as high or low. High-quality data means that your mailing list is valid and therefore your recipients will receive your marketing campaigns. A low-quality mailing list is a sign that you need to improve your sources of data. Another way to keep your data high quality is to do a regular review of your database and remove unengaged subscribers. If, for example, a subscriber has not opened your emails for the past 3months, remove them from your mailing list to avoid spam complaints.
2. Reduces email bounces. An email checker, like Finder.io, helps you clean your email list and reports undeliverable, disposable, and role-based emails. Sending emails to invalid addresses causes a “bounce back error” from the server. Removing these invalid email addresses means emails you send to the cleaned list will be delivered and you will achieve little to no bounces. Hard bounces are emails that cannot be delivered due to permanent reasons such as a fake email address, non-existent domain or subscriber changed their address. Soft bounces are due to temporary reasons such as the recipient's inbox being full or the email file being too large.
3. Allows you to personalize and improve customer engagement. Engaging with valid email addresses means the data you collect on your email campaigns will reflect a real picture of your subscribers’ priorities and interests. The more data you have about your customers, the more you can tailor your emails and include content that they can relate to, therefore improving engagement with them. Consumers’ emotional connection with your brand can mean success or failure for your business, therefore, personalizing content creates a stronger emotional connection to your brand.
Data from HubSpot Research, 2019 Global Survey showed that 78 percent of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. To be able to tap into this, you need to first verify that your mailing list is healthy.
4. Saves money and Increases campaign ROI (Return on investment). Storing and sending email addresses costs money because of email marketing services charge by the number of emails sent. You, therefore, lose money sending emails to invalid and unresponsive subscribers. Shrinking your email list saves money because the cost of storing and sending emails reduces. It also reduces the manpower required to maintain email lists and databases. A cleaned and verified email list means your marketing campaigns are more targeted. When your emails are better targeted, they evoke more engagement and increases the likelihood of your recipients making purchases. A decrease in costs and an increase in revenue is any business’s dream.
5. Reduce spam complaints and avoid being blacklisted. Sending out campaign emails to role-based addresses risks you being marked as spam. If you have a large number of spam complaints and bounces, you risk a warning from your ESP and possible blacklisting meaning they will not carry your emails even transactional ones.
Valuable Lessons and Features about Email Checkers
There is a bounty of email checkers in the market, and for you to succeed in your email marketing through email verification, you need to understand the features that will guarantee you success.
A genuine email checker like Finder.io should be able to perform all the three steps of email verification: syntax/formatting checking, domain/server checking, and mailbox checking.
It should be able to perform all the above steps without sending a single email to verify if the address is correct.
It should be able to clean up all your incoming email addresses at the point of collection and scrub your database by regularly monitoring your email list to detect any changes that could affect your deliverability.
The right email checker should have inbuilt fraud protection to be able to detect spam traps, abuse, catch-all, and temporary emails and map them to specific entry points. Fraud detection will also perform risk validation for high-risk keywords and TLDs.
It should offer both bulk and real-time email verification API. Bulk email verification allows you to validate your already gathered email list. You upload your email list to your email checker and allow it to perform verification. Real-time verification performs validation at the time of sign up but is only possible with API integration. Real-time verification validates your subscriber addresses instantly and rejects invalid email addresses.
A good email verification tool should allow users to drag-and-drop or import their email lists directly from their marketing platform, email service provider, or any of their integrations. It should also allow the importation of text CSV files.
Aside from identifying fake and invalid email addresses, it should be able to give a detailed and quality SMTP report by classifying the addresses as either catch-all, disposable, role-based, Safe to Send, Accept-All, Free service, Role-based or invalid. This classification is vital in ensuring deliverability. Role-based accounts are accounts not related to a particular person but rather relates to a group or department. Campaigns must not be sent to these emails, otherwise, you risk being flagged as spam.
It should be able to deliver on accuracy. A good level of accuracy is typically 98%.
To protect the privacy of your data, it should offer security through two-way encryption methods.
Identify duplicate email addresses and merge them.
Perform IP blacklist monitoring. This is done by checking email address or IP address against known DNSBLs and URI DNSBLs to trap spam systems. It can then filter against disposable providers and the blacklisted addresses by interacting with other systems like mailgun and mandrill.
Having a low turnaround time ensures instant results, instant bounce analysis and instantly detects unsafe accounts.
Perform various aspects of domain validation such as grey list domain detection, toxic domain verifier, offer auto-correction for domains, and check for inactive, invalid, and parked domains.
A good email verifier tool should enable the integration of real-time API into existing platforms.
Email append is an important feature of incredible email checkers which allows you to learn more about your recipients by automatically adding information like first and last name, location, gender, and IP address. This helps when targeting your content.
According to business success coach and consultant Lilach Bullock, knowing who to target will help you generate a better ROI.
The Bottom Line
Success in email checking comes from choosing a service provider that guarantees accuracy, offers privacy for your data, offers real-time verification, and gives a detailed report of categorized addresses. Also, it protects you from spam complaints and bounces, which increases your risk of being blacklisted. It is, therefore, important that you choose a reliable email checker to maintain a healthy email list and improve your click-through rate.