This post was contributed by Emily Jack of Emailable.

Email verification is an essential part of any email marketing campaign. Growing an email list provides your business with the opportunity to build relationships and earn revenue. Plus, email marketing provides the greatest ROI.

As you grow your email list, you’ll come in contact with undeliverable, fake, or misspelled addresses. Sending to these types of addresses can wreak havoc on the success of your campaigns. Increased bounce rates can damage your domain reputation and inbox placement—landing your well-thought, clever emails in the spam folder.

Email verification is the process of verifying the validity of each address on your list— empowering you to remove those undeliverable addresses and send only to deliverable addresses. In this post, we’ll highlight how email verification works, the dangers of avoiding email verification, and the importance of verifying often. Let’s dive in!

How does email verification work?

As you grow your list, it is important to confirm that each address is legitimate, spelled correctly, and active. To best understand how to identify an address’s deliverability, we’ll use our solution Emailable as an example to highlight the distinct set of strategies used in verification.

To verify an email, Emailable uses four steps: Syntax Check, MX Record Verification, Mailbox Check, and Distinct Categories.

  1. Syntax Check: The syntax check ensures that an email address consists of the obvious components, such as an @ and a properly formatted domain; another component of this step involves other checks that are domain-specific, such as ensuring a properly formatted domain.
  2. MX Record Verification: Next, the MX record verification provides confirmation that the email points to a valid mail server.
  3. Mailbox Check: We connect to the email server directly via our domain-specific strategies to authenticate if the email address actually exists on the server.
  4. Distinct Categories: This aspect of verification allows email marketers to identify and properly segment email addresses on your list based on categories that they fall into.

More specifically, the categories that define the type of address include: role, free, disposable, or accept-all. Properly understanding what these categories mean and how they affect deliverability provides email marketers greater insight into their lists and the success of their campaigns.

  • Role: An address that is not attributed to a specific person and may be forwarded to other mailboxes. Examples include info@domain.com or support@domain.com.
  • Free: Addresses that are from a free domain. Examples include @gmail.com or @yahoo.com.
  • Disposable: Addresses that are often created by users who do not wish to provide their primary address. These are often temporary. Examples include @mailinator.com or temp-mail.org.
  • Accept-all: Addresses that are connected to a server that accepts mail for any address but may not reach an actual inbox.

Segmenting your list with these categories will allow you to avoid unnecessary bounces.

deliverability categories in email verification

With Emailable, emails are categorized by deliverability.

Why is list cleaning important?

Email verification solutions can provide valuable insight into the emails on your list. Not only do you get to remove the liability of undeliverable emails from their list and increase their ROI, but you also receive enriched data with name and gender detection.

While these benefits are undoubtedly valuable, protecting your domain reputation, reducing bounce rates, and securing your inbox placement are the biggest motivators for regularly cleaning your list. Properly maintaining a clean email list is essential for a successful email marketing campaign.

Domain reputation

Each address that sends email has a domain reputation, which allows mailboxes to measure the trustworthiness of your mail. As you send emails over time, you are slowly building your domain reputation built on multiple factors, such as quality of mail, quality of your list, engagement numbers, and bounce rate. By frequently sending to undeliverable addresses from an unverified list, you are slowly damaging your domain reputation—resulting in poor open rates and emails landing in the recipient’s spam folder.

Bounce rate

An email “bounces” when it cannot be delivered to the address you’re trying to send it to. When an email bounces, you may receive a return to sender message that might include a reason why the email was unable to be delivered. However, not all bounces are created equal. The two types of bounces are:

  • Hard bounce: The email could not be delivered for a permanent reason, such as the mailbox doesn’t exist.
  • Soft bounce: The email could not be delivered for a potentially temporary reason, such as an inactive mailbox or a full mailbox.

High bounce rates can do damage to your domain reputation and risk your inbox placement. Verifying your list before sending is a big way to reduce bounce rates, and some email verification solutions even provide a deliverability guarantee.

Inbox placement

Inbox placement is exactly what it sounds like: your email landing in the recipient’s inbox. While deliverability overall is very important, ensuring your email gets in the inbox and not the spam folder is crucial for any email marketing campaign.

If you have gone a while without verifying your list, or if you have ever purchased an email list, your list is likely riddled with blacklisted or spam addresses that can cause your emails to be banished to the spam folder. Verification solutions help identify and remove these addresses.

What is list decay?

Maintaining a clean email list is crucial, as a portion of your list goes from deliverable to undeliverable each month—also known as “list decay.” Up to 2% of deliverable emails become undeliverable every month (that’s over 20% of your list annually!) slowly turning a clean list to a liability. Failing to remove “good emails gone bad” can cause you to fall victim to the pitfalls of poor domain reputation and high bounce rates. Common reasons for list decay include:

  • Change in provider: A user may change providers. This situation often happens when someone first gets an email address from a local ISP and then changes to Gmail.
  • Position change: Every company has a different email address structure and includes different types of addresses for C-level employees. If a person gets a promotion, their email address often changes.
  • Job change: As people move jobs, their email addresses change, and their old addresses are no longer deliverable.
  • Dead domain: If a website is down or a domain is unregistered, the email will not be deliverable.

How to automate email verification?

Solutions like Emailable’s Monitor enable you to connect your ActiveCampaign list, set your configurations, and automate email verification. As you import new email addresses, they will verify in Emailable and update in your ActiveCampaign account.

Also, Monitor offers reverification to combat list decay. Automated email verification simplifies the process of email verification and ensures that you never send to an unverified list again.

Monitor consists of two easy-to-use features:

  • Sync & verify: Import your list directly from ActiveCampaign and configure your settings (here, you can choose to “unsubscribe” undeliverable emails automatically). As you grow your list in ActiveCampaign, it will be verified in Emailable and properly updated in your ActiveCampaign account.
  • Reverify: Remove emails the moment they become undeliverable. At a frequency of your choosing (we recommend daily), reverify your list and combat list decay automatically.

automate email verification

Emailable automates email verification.

Verify Your Email Addresses

While growing your email list is important, verifying and maintaining the emails on your list is just as crucial. As you strategize your next email marketing campaigns, make sure you remember to verify your list to ensure that you protect your domain reputation and that your email lands in the inbox.