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How Email Verification Works: A look inside

November 12, 2019
Written by Jesús Diaz

People working in the email marketing industry would have no problem remembering exactly why you need to verify email addresses. The thing is that most of the time we have a service run the verification for us. This leaves us with no idea of what is actually happening for that. Luckily for you, we’re about to explain exactly how email verification works. That way you know exactly what happens every time that gives a verification service an email address and asks does this email work.

Email Verification

In email marketing, the verification of a long list of emails can quickly become a headache. After all the trouble you might have gone through to get email addresses into a secure mailing list, now there’s a chance that some of those addresses are bad. As an online email marketing person, you need to keep an eye on your server reputation. So, it would be really bad to start getting bounces from a good portion of your list.

This is exactly where email verification services can help you. Basically, you give them your list of emails and they will tell you which ones are valid and which aren’t. Let’s explain how this all works further.

What is email verification?

Verifying an email address is basically authenticating the address to know if it’s still in use or if it even exists. Fairly easy right? Well, that just what it does in broad strokes.

The “Does this email work”.

There’s a perfectly valid reason to periodically validate and verify your mailing list. Since we know from a good source that email lists degrade at a rate of 22,5% per year. This means that if your list consists of about a hundred recipients, then 22 of those addresses will yield problems for you. What’s even worse, your mailing list is likely much larger than that, so this is a serious issue. In essence, the problems that might arise are:

  1. Your bounce rate will increase. This sends a negative signal to your ISP, leading to delivery problems.
  2. With a lower sender reputation, your emails may not even reach valid recipients.
  3. Your emails start to get delivered straight to the junk or spam folder.

This is exactly what we mean when we say delivery issues. These are problems you want to avoid at all costs. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can see for yourself the bad results you can get from an unverified list. Fair warning this can greatly damage your business and reputation.

Verifying an email address.

Yet another reason to always verify email addresses, is the known risk of spammers. Since this is such a big issue ISPs are doing their best work to prevent spammers from going into action and damaging people. Having a bad sender reputation can get you flagged as a spammer, even if you’re not one. If this does happen then there’s a good chance that you can get blacklisted. After that, there’s little to and it’s pretty much game over.

The good news is that you don’t have to run with those risks, there are great services available to help you with verification. One of such services is VerifyBee. This service is at the top of the market and works wonders when it comes to validating an email list. If you’re wondering what service you can turn to in order to have a clean and valid email list, feel free to check out VerifyBee you won’t regret it.

How does email verification work?

Let’s break down the series of steps that a verifying service takes each time it verifies an email address. Remember that what we’re about to explain is more of a general process. Different services may have a slightly different process, however, they all should accomplish essentially the same.

Step 1. They identify any issues and problems before the ISPs or ESPs.

Think of this step as something similar to spellcheck. Aside from that the service also checks for known spam traps. These are email addresses that are created with the single purpose of capturing spammers and then report them.

In the event that you’re buying email lists then it would be a good idea to check in case of any spam traps are there. The number of issues with these kinds of addresses can be high or low depending on how you obtained your list. Regardless, email verification should remove all those spam traps from your mailing list.

Step 2. The provider checks the format of your emails.

The syntaxis and format of your emails can say a lot about them if you look closely. The service in this part of the process is looking for missing “@” and invalid symbols among other things. All of these things are signs that you will most likely get a hard bounce if you use an address like that.

An example of this is “[email protected]”, notice anything missing?

Step 3. Domain verification.

In this part, the service will check the DNS records to make sure that the domain name is correct. After that, it will check if the domain mail exchange server is able to receive emails.

To further illustrate this point, it’s like checking to see if a person exists in a phone book. In the event all the info you have is correct then there will be information inside the DNS records to validate the address. If there’s no information about that address in the DNS records, then the address simply doesn’t exist. Sending email to a non-existent email address will always cause a hard bounce.

The final step. Individual mailbox validation.

For this part the email verification service will surely use the SMTP protocol to make sure that the mailbox of each email address exists ad is able to receive emails.

This is like to say that you have found the address but know you want to see what happens when you send emails to it. If everything is good the emails will reach the mailbox. If not, they might bounce or be delivered to the trash bin or spam folder.

After all this, the validation is now over. You will receive a report telling you which emails are invalid and a clean copy of the email list. The good news is the by doing this you have successfully protected yourself from any problems regarding invalid addresses.

How long does email verification take?

The actual email verification process is fairly fast. It takes less than a second to verify an email address. The whole process can be done without sending a single email. In fact, the process is so efficient that you will get your results right after the process has finished.

Most services also separate the bad email addresses based on what kind of problems they caused.

How can I verify a list of email addresses?

This is easily accomplished by uploading a batch of addresses to a verification service. You could also connect an email verification API that would automatically check your email addresses. The second option, while comfortable, it’s also more expensive. The usual is to work with a service and upload your list of email addresses to them.

The problem is that batch uploading can be a big pain sometimes. The bright side of that is that you don’t have to input every address manually. What you want to do is simply export the list from your ESP, download it, then upload it to your verification service. After the verification is done you will be handed a clean list of addresses that you will have re-upload to your ESP.

While it does sound like a look of steps it sometimes can be faster than you think. That would all depend on your ESP and verification service. Again if you want the best experience use VerifyBee.

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