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Email Verification: What does it do? How does it work?

What is email verification?

Email verification, or validation, is a process which ensures that an email address belongs to a user, and that the emails you send will make it to the inbox of a real person, rather than to a spam trap or to an address which is out of use. Moreover, using an email verification/validation service ensures that the emails you’re sending are formatted correctly, and in a way which will better guarantee that your emails make it to customers’ inboxes.

Why is it important to check and verify the emails on your mailing list?

  • It lets you know if an email is still in use. Since one of the factors that influences your email deliverability is whether recipients engage with your emails, it makes sense that you would want to delete unused email accounts from your mailing lists, to increase the chance of your email campaign receiving a high percentage of engagement.

  • It can tell you whether the domain of a certain email is inactive or dead. Obviously, if a domain is dead, your emails will bounce and this will affect your email deliverability to prospective customers in the future.

  • It will identify spam traps. Spam traps are usually abandoned emails that are hidden within mail lists, especially if those mail lists have been purchased. Their purpose is to expose bulk emailers and spammers. Your domain may be blacklisted if you send emails to these traps, which will be massively detrimental to your email deliverability and email sender reputation, as email service providers usually block blacklisted users and your emails won’t make it to customers’ inboxes.

What else does an email verification service check for?

  • It can identify misspelt words within your email campaign, and some services even correct these words for you.

  • It informs you as to whether the way you have formatted your email is appropriate or likely to flag a spam filter.

  • It determines whether the emails that you send will be delivered to each email, and if not, whether it will be a soft or hard bounce.

  • It can detect when a certain email account was last checked, and therefore whether an email is likely to be active or not.

How does it work?

  • Mailbox Validation: email verification services use Simple Mail Transfer Protocol to make contact with the mail server; the mail server will then send back a message stating that the mailbox can, or can’t, receive messages. This verification technique usually takes a second or two, though old mail servers and servers with anti-spam features may increase this time.

  • However, make sure to use a verification service which definitely does not send emails to the contacts on your mail list during the verification process.

    • Detecting Spam Traps: a verification service can identify spam traps by comparing the email addresses on your mail list to the list of known addresses and domains used to expose spammers.

    • Email Syntax Validation: this feature of the service checks the format of your emails and compares it against the Internet Engineering Task Force standards which ensures the maintenance of high standards in content. A badly formatted email can trigger spam filters.

    If you don’t use an email verification service…

    You’re ruining your own email deliverability. With email lists clogged with old, unused emails and potential spam traps, you are sure to have decreased your overall subscriber engagement with emails and you may have inadvertently blacklisted yourself. Furthermore, you can’t be sure you are formatting emails according the IETF standards, and you might even misspell the occasional word.

    These problematic features of your email marketing strategy can decrease overall email deliverability, and you are more likely to be sending your emails straight into prospective customers’ spam boxes. While you might be wasting time, energy, and a chunk of your marketing budget on sending emails which your customers aren’t seeing, you could be spending just a few dollars to ensure the highest deliverability rates possible, by using an email verification service.

Charles Y.

Charles has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.

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