As anyone with some B2B sales experience knows, an email address can be a powerful piece of information. It gives you the opportunity to get your brand front and center in the inboxes of hot, qualified leads. However, your opportunities here are only as good as your data. It’s therefore essential that you make sure your email addresses are accurate and active. This is where email validation comes in handy. We take a look at everything you need to know about how to validate emails.
What is Email Validation?
First things first, let’s get some definitions out of the way. Email validation is essentially the process of cleaning up your email data by determining which ones are still accurate. You’ll often see this process described as email verification or email scrubbing/ email list cleaning. Each definition means essentially the same thing, but the process varies slightly:
- Email validation. Making sure addresses in your database still exist and follow the right format.
- Email verification. This is a slightly more complex process that checks whether the email address belongs to an active and genuine recipient.
- Email scrubbing. Removing unengaged subscribers from your email list.
How does Email Validation work?
There are several ways in which email validation can work. Each of the methods we’ve outlined below builds upon the last, giving you a more detailed and definitive way of making sure your email contacts are valid:
- Syntax and formatting check. Essentially, this step requires you to check that each address is formatted correctly, making sure that there are no missing @ symbols or invalid addresses. This can prevent a hard bounce.
- Server confirmation. Here, you are checking the DNS records to ensure that the domain name is correct and the server can receive emails.
- Mailbox validation. In this final step, you double-check that the mailbox for each address exists and can receive messages.
As you can see, each of these steps can help you refine your mailing list, and this data validation of emails can help you run an effective email campaign.
Why You Should Verify Emails
You can probably already think of a few reasons why you need to know how to validate email addresses. Of course, you want to make sure that your customers and potential customers can receive your correspondence whichever stage of the B2B sales stage they’re at. However, there are plenty of other reasons too:
- Reduced email bounces. You can make sure that most of your emails reach their intended destination.
- No need to fix bounces. You don’t have to spend time exploring why your emails aren’t delivering.
- Improved engagement. Those on your send list with confirmed and correct details are more likely to engage with your content.
- Increased Campaign ROI. With more engaged recipients, it’s more likely you’ll increase your ROI.
- Ensures a quality database. By cleansing your data, you can make sure that those on your send list are more likely to be receptive to your emails.
- Reduced spam complaints. You want to make sure that for every 5,000 emails you send, you get less than five complaints of spam.
- Minimized risk of becoming blacklisted. You don’t want your sender score to drop, and blacklisting can do it exactly that. If this happens, your message won’t be accepted by certain servers.
Clearly, there are many benefits to verifying emails, and it’s a practice that you should routinely carry out.
Types of verification processes
There are several types of processes when it comes to email verification. We’ve highlighted some of the main ones below:
- Regex email validation. A regex (or regular expression) is a way of defining a search pattern. With this method, you basically use an email validation rule that can scan your email database for specific oddities and cleanse them easily.
- Bulk verification. With this method, you’ll often use specialist software to validate all of the email addresses in your database. It uses a variety of techniques at once (as mentioned above) across large databases.
- Batch verification. Essentially, this method is the same as above. However, it usually means that you verify a specific group of email addresses.
- Real-time verification. This type of validation is done at the point of entry. It helps customers to enter correct and valid details and helps customers correct typos.
Each of these types of verification can help, and it’s often a good idea to use a combination of all of them for the maximum validity of your data.
Mistakes to avoid when verifying emails
Of course, it’s easy to get lazy when it comes to things like verifying your email data. You want to make sure that you avoid making mistakes with this process, as it can mean you either lose potential customers or lower your email sender score. Here are some dos and don’ts to focus on:
- Don’t forget quality. Ultimately, you want your email list to be full of quality data. This might mean that you have to get strict with your requirements and cut out a lot of addresses. However, in the long term, it will be worth it.
- Do set a regular review schedule. This isn’t a one-off process. Your data validation for emails should be a regular occurrence. As well as trying to secure good data, you’ll also want to schedule a review every so often.
- Don’t get overzealous. As much as quality is important, you don’t want to prevent potential leads from receiving your emails. Make sure that your efforts don’t go too overboard when it comes to these things.
- Do check email addresses in real-time. One great way of keeping your data in good condition is to check it at the point of entry. This is why real-time checking can ensure you get valid data in the first place.
How to thoroughly validate an email address
If you’re looking for a thorough way of how to validate email data, we’ve outlined the process below. These don’t take into account real-time email checking (which you should also do) but instead focuses on once you have the data itself:
- Syntax validation. Here, you simply want to check that the email addresses you have follow the standard email format. Usually [alphanumeric characters]@[hostname].[domain].
- Check for disposable emails. Disposable email addresses are those that are only valid for a short amount of time. People often make them when signing up for services they only intend on using for a short time. You should remove these.
- Check for obvious typos. Misspellings, particularly in domain names, will usually mean your email doesn’t deliver. They’re easy enough to spot, particularly if you filter your data.
- Lookup DNS. By performing a DNS lookup, you can check that an email server is accepting emails from a particular domain name.
- Ping the email inbox. Once you’ve done your lookup, you can then ping the email address via an SMTP connection. This confirms whether an email address exists.
Questions to ask before selecting an email address provider
When you’re thinking about how to validate emails, you should also consider some of the questions you want to ask before you choose an email address provider. These can save you a lot of pain when you’re dealing with your email data:
- Is the platform user-friendly and easy to use?
- Can I use email automation with the provider?
- What is the deliverability rate?
- How safe is my and my customer data?
- Is the customer support reliable?
Best practices for email verification
It’s worth mentioning that just because there is some unruly data in your email database, that doesn’t mean the mistakes are intentional. Customers may mistype their details, which means that you could be missing out on a hot prospect.
Of course, it also doesn’t necessarily mean that is the case. So, if you’re tidying up your data and you might have some potential new clients to reach out to, you should send them a confirmation email to gauge their interest. This will confirm whether or not they want to receive further contact from you.
So, that covers everything you need to know about how to validate emails. Clearly, it’s an important process that’s worth the time and effort. Once you’ve cleansed your data, you’ll have a more engaged and responsive database that won’t negatively impact your email sender score.