A Complete Guide to Email Verification Best Practices

April 11, 2023
By AtData


Email remains as one of the oldest, most effective marketing tools. According to Statista, email marketing revenue is estimated to hit almost 11 billion by the end of 2023.

Yet the results of email campaigns don’t always match these stats, leaving marketers scratching their heads trying to figure out how to stand out from a crowded market.

But what if their efforts are misdirected? What if the problem wasn’t with the quality of their content, but of their list?

Email lists degrade substantially over time, which might leave marketers sending emails to addresses that simply don’t exist. Emailing a nonexistent address not only decreases the chances of it being seen by legitimate users, it also increases the chances of being blocked by Email Service Providers (ESPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

To make the most of their campaigns, marketers need to follow Email Verification best practices. Below, we’ll cover what Email Verification is, why it matters, and how to ensure your emails get to the right people at the right time.

What is Email Verification?

Email Verification is the process of validating email addresses by checking for syntax errors, non-existent domains, or inactivity. Email Verification tools run these audits automatically, identifying potentially fraudulent, misspelled, or defunct email addresses for removal.

If you eliminate these emails from your list, you connect with t real people rather than fake or inactive accounts. And the more people you reach, the more potential your campaign has for conversions.

But marketing ROI isn’t the only reason why Email Verification exists. Email Service Providers (like Outlook) and Internet Service Providers (like Comcast) monitor the activity associated with their customers’ accounts. If ESPs and ISPs detect that your email campaigns hit dormant or non-existent inboxes, they will start to send your emails to junk. Over time, they will blacklist your email address entirely.

Why Email Verification matters

An email address is one of the most valuable pieces of data to marketers, as it connects them to  eager prospects who are ready to make a purchase. With accurate emails, marketers make sure customers receive useful product information, exciting company news, or even discounts that drive conversions.

Yet, email lists can quickly become obsolete or otherwise disrupt campaigns. That’s because email addresses can become:

  • Defunct: Emails sent to unused addresses can pile up, and eventually will bounce back. Or, the email immediately bounces, and continues to damage your sender reputation for each additional sent email.
  • Misformatted: Everyone makes mistakes, including prospects or customers who fill out forms on your website. Or, inaccurate information gets intentionally entered on your forms, clogging up your list. You’ll hurt your sender reputation if you continue to send emails to these addresses, too.
  • Disposable: Potential customers often want to download gated content but don’t want their email added to lists. So they create a disposable address, one solely used for this purpose, to get what they need. They may never check that account, let alone open your marketing emails. These addresses also have a high potential of becoming defunct, as they are only created for one-time use.
  • Fraudulent: Impersonators subscribe to your email list with genuine email addresses. This helps them obtain insider information they can later use to carry out phishing or other nefarious campaigns.
  • Spamtraps: ESPs and ISPs purposefully create spam email addresses to lure spammers, but addresses like these can sometimes get on your lists. Sending emails to these spamtraps, sometimes called “honeypots,” can damage your sender reputation and deliverability. Modern Email Verification tools have built-in honeypot detection, helping marketers exclude spamtraps from their lists.

Email validation matters because it gets your campaigns in front of legitimate people. Sending emails to an outdated list can damage inbox placement, with your emails ending up in spam. Emails that don’t end up being seen are a waste of time, money, and effort.

As mentioned above, ESPs and ISPs create spamtrap addresses in order to identify nefarious users. However, spamtraps can negatively impact your campaigns if you don’t practice regular validation to ensure they’re off of your lists. Otherwise, your bounce rate will begin to suffer. If ESP and ISPs pick up on your bounce rate, your emails will end up in junk inboxes. If your bounce rate remains high, your email address will be blacklisted, and none of your emails will land in people’s inboxes. Getting blacklisted is bad enough, but ESPs and ISPs share their blacklists: once you’re blocked by one, you’ll  get blocked by the rest.

Failing to keep your email lists clean can have devastating consequences, not just for your email campaign success but also for your deliverability and credibility. Email validation preserves your sender reputation, boosts marketing KPIs, and confers a whole host of other benefits.

Benefits of Email Verification

Cold calling has quickly fallen out of favor. People have grown used to spam or robocalls, and automatically send unknown numbers straight to voicemail. They want to do their own independent research on a product or service first, then talk to a sales representative when ready.

That’s why most prospects and customers prefer to communicate over email. Email newsletters or promotions keep them aware of new products and promotions without the hassle of an outbound sales team. So for marketers, it’s critical to gather legitimate email addresses. Some benefits of verifying your existing email lists and incoming email addresses are:

  • Clean data: A database filled with clean information generates better marketing results because it actually gets to your audience. Email validation also helps marketers  enhance outreach personalization.
  • Inbox placement: Sending emails to invalid mailboxes is a red flag to ESPs and ISPs, and over time your sender reputation will decrease—until your emails are blocked altogether. Email validation clears your list of long-inactive accounts, which helps you avoid being marked as spam.
  • Accurate customer information: Many organizations use email addresses outside of marketing. Maintaining accurate information through validation ensures that your customer support, investor relations, and billing departments can get in touch with customers as well.
  • Elimination of hard bounces and blocked emails: Email Verification can prevent hard bounces and blocked emails by identifying and removing inaccurate data. This keeps your sender reputation pristine, which ensures that future campaigns will succeed.

Email Verification should give peace of mind:  emails won’t bounce back, end up in spam folders, lay untouched in old inboxes, or worst of all, end up on blacklists. But Email Verification lends other benefits beyond email campaigns. Good data benefits organizations’ customer outreach, as well as allows marketers to tailor their campaigns.

Email Verification best practices

There are many best practices for email validation. Follow these top five Email Verification standards to clear your existing lists of problematic addresses and prevent future contamination.

1. Utilize real-time API

Marketers must verify their existing lists, but they also have to check new email addresses as they come in, too. One way to do this is to use a real-time API tool. Add a verification API to your site to ensure that you gather accurate information at the beginning of every customer journey. Consider using a real-time API to validate emails on:

  • Demo request forms
  • Free trial signups
  • Gated content forms
  • POS systems at stores or events
  • Giveaway landing pages
  • Event registration pages

Verification at the point of collection will yield higher-quality email addresses and keep your lists intact .

2. Combine verification methods

The most comprehensive way to validate email addresses is to use multiple verification methods at once. Try combining real-time APIs, scheduling batch verifications, and even performing one-off manual validation.

Running all of these checks regularly can have a compounding effect on the accuracy of your lists. If faulty addresses aren’t caught with one method, they will probably be caught via another. Leveraging all the tools at your disposal will help overcome natural degradation rates and keep your lists clean.

3. Maintain email hygiene

As we’ve pointed out multiple times, email lists deteriorate over time. To maintain good email hygiene, you should be scrubbing legacy, and even new lists, frequently. Consider batching these verifications into monthly runs.

On top of that, you should add extra bulk verifications in busier times of the year. For example, some ecommerce companies make most of their annual revenue during the holidays. To make that happen, marketers run even more campaigns than usual between Q3 through the end of the year. During that time, new prospects or customers might subscribe to promotional emails, which increases the potential of list contamination. Be sure to schedule multiple cleanings before, during,  and after the holidays to maintain a hygienic list even as it grows.

Other companies organize huge giveaways to get more people interested in their product. The more people who sign up for the list to participate in the sweepstakes, the higher the chances of inaccurate address collection. Planning additional bulk verification runs in these situations will help keep your bounce rates low even as you scale up your campaigns.

4. Tighten up data collection processes

Data collection is the first major point of failure for email addresses. An API on your site’s web forms prevents spamtraps, nonexistent addresses, and misspelled addresses from entering your database in real-time. Some APIs can even be programmed to recognize user errors. These APIs can prompt users to enter their emails again, or can be programmed to automatically reject certain types of emails.

5. Use an Email Verification tool

The best way to ensure marketers reap the benefits of Email Verification is through an automated tool. When exploring options, you should be looking for:

  • Realistic email deliverability: Email Verification solutions should be able to share a reasonable deliverability rate. While not every bad email will be caught before campaigns are sent, most should be in order to uphold your sender reputation.
  • Real-time verification: Because email addresses can come in through numerous channels, modern marketers need an Email Verification tool with an out-of-the-box, real-time API. According to best practices, use this feature in addition to bulk verification services to keep your lists as clean as possible. 
  • Secure data transmission: If your email lists leak, you risk non-compliance with privacy laws, and open the door to other cyberattacks. Ideal Email Verification tools have airtight security that transfers data to and from your database.
  • Compliance with global privacy laws: Non-compliance with GDPR and CCPA can have serious consequences for your business and foster distrust in your customers. Your Email Verification tool should have built-in checks and controls to disallow data collection without a user’s consent.
  • Ease of use: Email Verification should save you time, not add to your busy schedule. Engage with vendors whose verification is mostly automatic and happens in real-time so you can focus on campaign ideation and creation.

Finding an Email Verification tool can be challenging, especially with so many choices available. Zeroing in on the vendors that meet all these requirements and more can minimize bounces, maintain your sender reputation, and maximize marketing ROI.

Optimize your outbound marketing

Inaccurate email addresses are deadweight in your marketing strategy. Not only do they harm your sender reputation, but they also waste precious marketing dollars by sending your emails to junk instead of a real person.

Email Verification changes the game—by keeping your lists clean, you can reach the audience you want to reach, all while remaining safe in the eyes of ESPs and ISPs. The key to success is finding the right verification platform for you.

AtData catches and corrects toxic emails, bounces, and spam complainers with sophisticated syntax checks, SMTP, and proprietary mailbox verification. Their real-time API also helps you recover lost leads, asking users to re-enter their information when it detects a mistake. AtData’s ISO-27001 certification and CCCPA and GDPR compliance put marketers at ease, knowing they’re capturing data securely and lawfully. And with 30 disposition codes, AtData gives you the flexibility to manage your lists and your campaigns the way you want to.

Ready to get the most out of your email campaigns? Give AtData a try.