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Picture this: you’ve warmed up your email domain and configured your DNS settings. Your copy is excellent, full of personalization and free of SPAM trigger words. The first batch of messages go out…and a lot of them come back as undeliverable. There was one critical step missing in your process: testing email deliverability.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Verify Emails?
How Email Verification Works
Tools to Test Email Deliverability and Verification
How to Collect or Find Verified Emails Only

If you don’t verify email addresses before sending campaigns, you might be wasting time messaging accounts that don’t exist. Your prospect may have changed domains, had a typo or entered a false address just to get a download. Checking email deliverability in advance can help you avoid this scenario and protect your domain reputation in the process.

Why Should You Verify Emails?

It’s a fact of life that occasionally, an email will bounce, or be undeliverable. Two types of bounces can occur:

  • Soft bounces, which are due to temporary problems like a full inbox. It’s often worth trying to send the email again in a few days; you may be able to reach your prospect after the issue is resolved.
  • Hard bounces, which are due to permanent problems such as the account not existing. It’s impossible to reach your contact at this email address, and you should stop trying.

A single bounce here and there isn’t a problem. When your emails regularly bounce, though, you:

  • Miss connecting with your prospect
  • Lose time you can’t get back
  • Tarnish your domain reputation — particularly in the case of a hard bounce.

High volumes of hard bounces can be so damaging that your domain or IP goes on a blacklist that tells ESPs to flag all of your messages as SPAM. You won’t be able to reach anyone easily, valid email addresses or not.

Regularly testing email deliverability reduces the chance of this happening.

High volumes of hard bounces are damaging to your sender reputation, resulting in your important emails landing in spam. Always aim for a bounce rate of less than 5% for your outbound campaigns.

How Email Verification Works

You can verify new email contacts before you send them a message. This way, you can clear any unverified addresses from your list and avoid a history of hard bounces. 

Testing email deliverability is a simple process. Choose an email verification tool, enter in your prospect’s address, and get a confirmation as to whether or not it’s valid. Problem solved — and reputation saved.

Email verification tools perform a variety of checks on the emails you’re providing to validate the emails, see if they’re still active, or if there are any other issues with the inbox you’re hoping to reach. The main email verifier workflow looks something like this:

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Step 1 – Syntax check – the core feature of email verifiers where spelling of email addresses is checked, while also making sure there are no missing or special characters in the address.

Step 2 – Domain check – This is where the tool checks whether the domain of the email address actually exists, is registered, and is working properly.

Step 3 – Email ping – this step is a bit more technical than the first two. It’s the technical process of the verification service pinging the email address with an EHLO message, then awaiting the response from the email server. This is basically a message indicating the intent to send a message to the recipients server. This is the usual workflow when sending emails: a connection is made, after which the actual email is sent. In this process the step of actually sending an email is left out, while still receiving the needed response from the recipient’s email server. Based on the response this server will bring back to the email verification tool, it will either classify the email as “deliverable”, “non-deliverable”, or “risky”.

Different email validation services can provide you with all, or just some of these verification methods.

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Tools to Test Email Deliverability and Verification

Make email verification a regular part of updating and cleansing your contact lists. It’s simple to test deliverability with these tools:

  •  MailTester offers flexible pay-by-the-email pricing or recurring subscriptions, with rates as low as $0.001 per email. Verify single emails as you get them, or scan your whole list regularly.
  •  Clearout also offers credit-based and subscription plans to suit large and small businesses alike. You can get 100 free credits on signup to try the program out — that’s enough to test 100 emails.
  • Bouncer also offers a price-per-email rate and 100 free credits to test the service. Paid plans start at only $0.005 per email. The more emails you test, the cheaper it gets.

Once you know your email addresses are valid, you can use a tool like GlockApps to assess the overall deliverability of your outbound campaign. This service helps you identify any problems with your email content, check blacklist status, determine if a particular ESP is blocking your messages, and more.

What if I Suspect My Domain Is Already Blacklisted?

If you’ve already had a lot of hard bounces, or your campaigns are performing poorly, you can check to see if your domain or IP is blacklisted. It’s often possible to check directly with a blacklist, like Spamhaus, or use a tool like MX Toolbox.

Blacklists have different steps to request removal. If a blacklist has damaged your domain or IP, you may benefit by going through an email warmup process again. 

Not blacklisted and still having trouble? You may need to take some tactical anti-SPAM measures that can help with deliverability.

How to Collect Verified Email Addresses

When running email verification tests, you should find that most of your prospects’ email addresses are real and valid. If you’re seeing the opposite result — long lists of invalid emails — it’s time to rethink how and where you are collecting these leads.

  • If you’re offering a downloadable lead magnet, make sure email entry is a required field on the form and that the lead magnet is emailed to the prospect, rather than allowing them to download it directly from your website after entering their information. This encourages website visitors to use their real email address.
  • Similarly, when collecting leads on your website, make sure your form is structured so that the email address field type is set to email, not text. This may help reduce, but not fully eliminate, the chances of someone typing in a fake email address or string of numbers.
  • Don’t purchase bulk email lists from questionable data brokers. If you partner with a provider, make sure they’re a reputable source and take their own steps to verify emails.
  • Contact new leads in a timely fashion. The longer you wait to reach out, the larger the chance that some of your leads may have changed email addresses or companies.

Ultimately, the best solution is to use a prospecting tool. Growbots makes your outbound emailing easier and faster by finding real, verified email leads that fit your ideal customer profile. We take care of all the deliverability testing for you! Plus, every Growbots account includes built-in GlockApps testing and a dedicated Strategy Consultant to help you cold email with confidence. 

Curious to see how Growbots can help you land in more inboxes? Book a free demo today — we’d love to show you around!

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Hans Dekker

Hans Dekker

Coming from an agency background I'm naturally obsessed with lead generation and cold email. Being surrounded daily with people who share that same passion brings out the best in me and inspires me to write content that will hopefully do the same for you. Setting up your outbound sales campaigns for success can do incredible things for you business, and I'm here to help you get there. When I'm not nerding out over cold email I enjoy hitting the gym or taking my dog Morris for a long walk.