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In the past two years, email marketing has skyrocketed. Opens, clicks, and conversions are up, while unsubscribes are down 50%, according to Oracle.

If you have an email list, that's great news.

The not-so-great news? Data has been decaying fast—much faster than usual.

You can expect a fraction of your email list to go bad every year, but the pandemic has wreaked havoc on data. Millions of people lost their jobs. "The Great Resignation" followed. Email addresses that were valid last week may be dead ends today. At ZeroBounce, we found that around 30% of our email list had churned in the past 12 months.

Painful? Yes. Letting go of contacts you've worked so hard to gather isn't pleasant. Even more unpleasant, though, is getting bounces and seeing your engagement decline because your emails are going to the spam folder.

How Email List Validation Helps Your Email Marketing

Cleaning obsolete data from your email list is best-practice if you send mass emails. Here are some reasons for that:

  • It helps you avoid unnecessary expenses. Email service providers often charge based on the number of contacts you have on your list. Who wants to spend money to send emails that go nowhere?
  • It helps you prevent bounces. When more than 2% of your emails bounce, the rest of your messages are at risk of landing in spam.
  • It helps you keep a good sending reputation. Staying in the good graces of the inbox providers is critical if you want to be where your audience can see you.

Most marketers know that a high number of bounces indicates that it's time for an email list cleaning. But there's more to email list validation, and the following four tips will allow you to get the most out of the service you use.

Four Things to Know About Email List Validation

1. An email validator should detect more than invalid emails

Most ZeroBounce customers come to us when they get too many bounces. Indeed, bounces are detrimental to your email deliverability.

Every bounce means a lost opportunity. What's more, bounces can cause the rest of your subscribers to stop receiving your emails. As your reputation declines, so do your chances of reaching the inbox, so removing invalid emails should be a priority.

Invalid emails are not the only ones that could be lurking in your list and affecting your deliverability. There are other types of risky contacts, and a good email list validation service should detect them. Chad S. White describes some of those email addresses here. To his list, I would add the following:

  • Disposable or temporary emails, which last only a short time, only to end up bouncing.
  • Catch-all emails, which accept all the emails directed to a certain domain. They're prone to bouncing, and I'd recommend scoring them to further learn about their validity.
  • Abuse emails that belong to people who often label emails as spam. An email checker can pinpoint them and give you a chance to remove them before you get a spam complaint.

2. A validation tool can validate email addresses in real-time

If you verify your list every quarter, you're probably ahead of many of your competitors. Want to be extra-cautious about your email list and make sure it stays healthy longer? Validate every new contact in real time.

An email validation API works just like a validator that checks your list in bulk. The only difference is that it verifies your subscribers one by one, as they're signing up for your newsletter or registering on your website.

That way, an email validation API...

  • Doesn't allow new contacts to get on your list without passing through this verification process
  • Helps you avoid gathering bad contacts in the first place, by rejecting them instantly
  • Lets you keep a healthier email list as it grows

Your email validation company should assist you with installing the API on your signup pages. As effective as that is, however, it's wise to still assess the quality of your email list a few times a year and remove inactive subscribers.

3. Some email validation platforms offer more than others

For a small price difference, some platforms can offer a lot more than others. For instance, some email validators can detect only invalid emails. That helps, but what about all the other risky contacts out there?

Then, there are comparable email validation services that differ just slightly. Here are a few features and benefits you could ask about so you can pick the best service:

  • Does it remove duplicates? You don't want to pay for sending your email to the same address twice. That's a waste, and it can annoy your subscribers so they'll probably opt out and even mark you as spam. To help you avoid such issues, some email list cleaners remove duplicates, and they do it for free.
  • Does it have a money-back guarantee? Not many companies offer you a refund if your results are subpar. A team of email validation pros should be confident about what its software can do—and back it up with a guarantee.
  • Can you get reliable support? Some email list cleaning companies provide not only extensive documentation to answer your questions but also 24/7 customer support.

4. Email list validation must be done regularly

The more your database grows, the more likely it will acquire bad contacts. So, whether you do it in bulk or in real time, clean your email list every few months.

Monitor your email reports and consider the signals that tell you it's time for a list scrub:

  • Your bounces exceed 2%.
  • Clicks decline and you can't seem to engage your subscribers.
  • You receive more than one spam complaint for every 1,000 emails.

* * *

Of course, always avoid adding subscribers to your email list without permission, and strive to send content people signed up for. That's the most effective way to keep a healthy, engaged email list and increase your ROI.

More Resources on Email List Validation

Four Ways to Attract New Email Subscribers and Grow a Better List

What Every Marketer Needs to Know About Email Deliverability

Spring Is Here: Time to Unclutter Your Email Marketing

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Four Things You Should Know About Email List Validation

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image of Liviu Tanase

Liviu Tanase is the founder and CEO of ZeroBounce, an email validation and deliverability company.

LinkedIn: Liviu Tanase