One of the most powerful channels of online marketing is email marketing. There is probably no marketer worth her salt who doesn’t use email marketing.
To reach out to more prospects, marketers put to use every strategy they know to build and grow their mailing lists. Pop-ups, downloads, email walls, PDFs, free courses, webinars… you name it, it has been used to legitimately collect email addresses. Every single address added to the list is a matter of a small, but not insignificant, victory for the marketer.
And it is during this list building that incorrect or not-safe-to-send email addresses creep into your mailing list. Before long, your mailing list has a sizeable number of email addresses you should not be sending your emails to. Chances are you aren’t aware why that is dangerous for you.
How do these email addresses enter your mailing list
If you’re using purchased lists, your list is most likely full of spam traps, dead addresses and other addresses that are going to hurt your marketing efforts in more ways than you can imagine. It has been repeatedly shown that purchased lists don’t work, besides being illegal in many countries. Moral of the story: do not use purchased lists. Period.
That means you’re growing your mailing list organically. You’re asking subscribers to sign up for your newsletters or notifications about the new posts you write. If people are signing up, how come your mailing list suffers from poor hygiene over time?
There are many reasons for that, the main ones being:
- Some address was typed wrongly. Someone wanted to type adamsmith(at)email dot com, but typed adamsmthi(at)email dot com. A typo, basically.
- Some people purposefully submitted incorrect addresses. That could happen when you allow something to be downloaded immediately, instead of sending the link in an email to them.
- Some addresses are use-and-throw. People may also enter disposable email addresses (e.g. mailinator) which are used only for registering once.
- Maybe someone uses a role-address to sign up. Role address belongs to a role rather than an individual (e.g. admin@ or sales@). Occasionally, emails sent to this address are distributed a number of people in the department.
- Some domains set their incoming email server to accept-all. That means no matter what name you write, the email will be delivered as long as the domain is correct. That means allison@domainname, andehzns@domainname or 92m3j3j@domainname will all be delivered.
How do you remove the invalid email addresses entering your mailing list?
All of the above kinds of addresses are considered unsafe to send your marketing emails too. They indicate poor list acquisition methods that are commonly observed in spammers.
So what’s the solution?
Email address verification services are the answer.
Email address verification is the process of electronically finding out which of the email addresses on your list are safe-to-send, which are disposable addresses, which are invalid and so on. All this is done without sending actual emails.
Paid verification services, available as Software as a Service (SaaS), are extremely safe and reliable. Many of these email validation tools have a small free component for trial.
At the end of the email verification process, the service will separate safe-to-send address from unsafe, disposable, role- addresses, accept all and so on.
Here are 4 top reasons why you should verify your mailing lists.
1. Email verification cuts costs.
How many email addresses on your mailing list do you think are invalid?
There’s no set answer, but most experts will tell you the percentage of email addresses expiring (called Database Decay) every year is well into double-digits. HubSpot quotes Marketing Sherpa’s estimate: about 22.5% of your email addresses turn invalid every year.
So if your mailing list is originally 100,000 strong, there would be 22,500 email addresses that are invalid. Email verification will help you remove these invalid email addresses.
In other words, your real mailing list, after you carry out email verification, is 77,500 (100,000 less 22,500) and not 100,000.
The pricing plan you choose for email marketing services (e.g. MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Emma, VerticalResponse etc) depends upon how large your database is and how many emails do you send out.
So now you should choose a plan for 77,500 subscribers and not for 100,000. Also, you will be sending out 22.5% fewer emails than before. Both represent substantial savings for you.
2. It cuts down your hard bounce to nearly zero.
When you send out emails and they bounce back to you undelivered, it could be a soft bounce or a hard bounce.
A soft bounce is when the recipient inbox is full or the server is down temporarily. Resending the same email a little later will probably solve the problem.
A hard bounce is when the address is invalid or incorrect. That means the email will never be delivered, no matter how often you try.
If you continue sending emails to invalid or incorrect address, your credibility suffers. Your reputation will be damaged. It will adversely impact the deliverability of emails to valid addresses in the future. That’s because you aren’t following list management best practices, i.e. removing such addresses.
Email verification helps you get rid of invalid, incorrect or otherwise not-safe-to-send email addresses. Since virtually all invalid or incorrect addresses have been removed, your mailing list is now virtually free from such addresses. As a result, your emails wouldn’t bounce back.
3. With a cleaned list, your analytics is much more reliable.
When you send out email using an unverified mailing list, your reporting and analytics is generated from valid as well as invalid addresses.
For instance, your mailing list may have a number of disposable email addresses or accept-all. These addresses are not used by anyone. That means all the key metrics like Click Through Rates and Open Rates will show zero in their cases. (These emails have zero engagement.)
Because of this, your overall analytics will show an unnecessarily skewed picture.
As a result, you begin wondering what you could do improve the situation. You think something’s wrong with the subject line or the copy of the email or the timing or something else and try and get it right. All this, when you could have quickly improved things by just removing those poor quality addresses by using an email checker tool.
4. It keeps you from being labeled a spammer
A bigger mailing list also means you have a larger number of invalid or not-safe-to-send email addresses on your list. If you simply do an email blast without taking the necessary safety precautions, you are taking a big risk. (By definition, an email blast is when you send the same email to a very large number of recipients. Some experts feel that’s not a part of good practice; you should always segment your lists and send different emails.)
When you’ve sent out an email to an unverified list, you’re sure to have an unusually large number of bounces. When that happens, your Email Service Provider (ESP), and everyone else begins suspecting you’re a spammer.
Why should the ESP bother if you’re a spammer?
That’s because it can hurt their business badly. When you use their IPs to send out messages that have a high bounce rate (a sign typical of a spammer), those IPs will be blocked. Which means they won’t be able to use those IPs for some time for any other customer. Loss of business, loss of reputation.
Digital marketing in general and email marketing, in particular, have come a long way since their inception. Practices have become more sophisticated, messages have become more polished and regulations have become a great deal stronger.
The above are the top four reasons why you should verify your email addresses, but these aren’t the only reasons. For instance, the above post has not mentioned laws like the GDPR or the CAN-SPAM.
As email marketing matures, you’ll see these best practices being followed more diligently. But even today, for marketers who want to engage and wish to deliver and build value on a long-term basis, such activities as cleaning a mailing list isn’t an option – it’s the natural thing to do.
Mayank Batavia is an education entrepreneur. He is also a freelance blogger and content writer. He enjoys staying updated with and writing about the latest trends in technology and its ecosystem. His core interests are email marketing and regulations related to technology. He also maintains a technology blog www.almostism.com and occasionally tweets with his twitter handle @MayankEmpower.