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3 Ways to Improve Your Email Validation & Sender Reputation in 2020

3 Ways to Improve Your Email Validation & Sender Reputation in 2020 Blog Feature

September 9th, 2019 min read

Did you know that about 105 billion emails are sent each day? Even more, they are expected to reach 246 billion by 2020

Looking at this, there’s no doubt about it; email marketing has never disappeared in the picture. In fact, it has gotten bigger and more powerful.

Even in 2019, email remains to be the most influential source of information for B2B audiences, while consumers who purchase a product through email spend 138% more than those who didn’t receive an email offer.  

If the email campaigns you design, however, end up in the recipient’s spam folder. They’re USELESS. 

Here’s the thing, out of the 269 billion emails sent and received in 2017, only 28% made it to people’s inboxes. Shocking, isn’t it? 

Making sure that your message gets delivered right to your subscribers' inboxes should be your number one concern. 

You want people to know about your products/services, check out your offers, and choose you among your competitors through the emails you send, but unless you pay attention to the factors that affect your email deliverability, your goal of getting people to read your emails can be extremely difficult to achieve.

What is email validation?

Also called “mailing list validation,” email validation is the process of checking whether an email address is valid and deliverable without having to send a test email. 

Email validation plays a valuable role in ensuring the deliverability of any marketing email. Why, you ask? 

Because if an email you send gets sent to spam or is marked undeliverable or invalid, email clients take note of this and eventually see it as a signal that you’re sending poor quality emails.

In other words, you could have a list of 100,000 contacts, but if half of those are no longer active or invalid, not only are you beginning your campaign with unrealistic expectations, you’re making email clients believe you’re sending spam. 

The process of validating your email lists before sending helps lead to lower bounce rates, fewer spams, and high sender scores and open rates, which all help your email deliverability and eventually lead to email marketing success. 

There are three steps involved in email validation:

1. Formatting and syntax check 

The first and basic step is checking whether the collected email addresses conform to the recognized email formatting standards. This involves detecting typos and spelling errors in both the local and domain parts of the email address. Examples: missing spaces or symbols (@).

2. Domain and server verification 

The next step is to check if the DNS (domain name system) is valid and if the mail exchanger record exists and can receive emails.

3. Mailbox confirmation

The third and final step in email validation is verifying if such mailbox exists and is not full. 

Like the second step, it requires the use of some email verifier tool using the SMTP protocol. In this stage, the email verifier pings the exact email address and waits for a response from an email server. With a valid response, the email address is valid and active.

Email validation improves email marketing performance in so many ways. One of its biggest advantages is that it helps increase your email sender reputation, also called sender score. 

What is email sender reputation and why does it matter?

Your email sender reputation  is a rating (using a scale of 1-100) that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to the email sender that directly impacts your deliverability. 

Think of it as your email marketing credit history. 

When you have a high credit score, your bank trusts you and you can easily take advantage of their financial services, but if you have a poor credit rating, your bank is likely to hesitate to give you a good offer. 

When you have a poor email sender reputation, clients don’t trust you to send email. 

A higher email sender score suggests that your ISP are likely to deliver your emails right into the inboxes of your target recipients (subscribers). 

Furthermore, a high sender score suggests a high open rate (percentage of subscribers who open the email), as well as a lower bounce rate. More importantly, it lessens the likelihood of your emails going into your recipient’s spam folder.  

Ideally, email marketers should aim for a sender score of 99 and above

How to check your email sender reputation

There are several online tools available to check your sending reputation. 

In most cases, all you need to do is input your IP address or domain to see your scores, such as the SenderScore.org, TrustedSource, and BarracudaCentral.

Note that sender reputation is calculated and ranked against other IP addresses every 30 days. 

If your sender score is low or not where you’d like it to be, never fear! There are several things you can do to raise it and many of them come back to email validation. 

3 ways to improve email Validation  & performance

They might sound the same, but email deliverability and email delivery are very different. 

Basically, email delivery indicates whether or not your ISP has accepted your message. It ensures that your email does not bounce, regardless if it ended up in the recipient’s inbox or bulk folder. 

Email deliverability, on the other hand, refers to the percentage of emails that actually made their way into the recipients’ inbox. 

Needless to say, email deliverability is a better indicator of overall email marketing success than individual email delivery, but regardless of what metric you are looking at, email validation can help the number dramatically  improve. 

Here are some important tools and strategies to improve email validation:

1. Send your users an email activation

The basics of email validation go around verifying whether the email addresses submitted are correct. 

Yes, you want to make sure they are free from errors, typos, missing letters or symbols, or any other details that make such email addresses invalid, but here’s the thing: Potential subscribers are more likely to enter a valid yet wrong email address than enter an invalid one. 

So what’s the best way to deal with it? Send your users an email activation link.

Email activation is used by marketers to ensure that potential subscribers are signing up with their  "real" email addresses. With this strategy, when a person signs up for a subscription list, they will receive an email asking them to click on a specific link (activation link) to confirm that the address is valid before they start receiving other emails from the company.

2. Utilize data to gather valuable insights.

Behind every effective email marketing plan is a set of reliable data. 

Knowing things like how many people opened your email, how many of them click your links, how many actually made a purchase, and how many unsubscribed is important in measuring the success of your campaign. 

Collecting valuable information from your subscribers should also help ensure that they receive relevant contents, which is essential in maintaining a healthy email list. Meanwhile, conducting behavior analysis answers questions like how many people unsubscribe per email sent, which should help keep your list clean as well. 

3. Integrate data enrichment practices.

Obtaining quality information about email subscribers can be challenging. In fact, 54% of marketers say that they struggle with it. 

With issues on privacy and phishing, most of your subscribers will surely hesitate to provide enough details about themselves. However, data enrichment can help you work around this. 

By enriching your subscriber data, in other words, supplementing the first-hand customer data you have with third-party data from an external authoritative source,  you can do things like personalize your campaigns and segment your email list. These are two of the most powerful email marketing techniques that can improve your sender reputation. 

Segmenting helps ensure that you are sending content your subscribers will find interesting, but how do you segment your list? 

One technique is by setting up a preference center that enables contacts to segment themselves. 

It’s like a questionnaire they need to answer before getting subscribed to your mailing list. With a preference center, you can ask things like how often do they want to receive emails from you and what kind of emails they want. 

Of course, keeping your opt-in forms short is a must so make sure to ask only the most important questions. You can also gather data through a quiz, poll, or survey. Offer freebies in exchange for more information.

Manage your list. Plain and simple. 

Email validation is one crucial aspect of email marketing. Before moving on to succeeding steps like creating high-quality content, you want to make sure that you actually have valid subscribers. 

Validating email addresses enhances your email deliverability, open rate, and sender reputation – the key indicators of a successful email campaign. There are several ways to improve the quality of your mailing list. 

Hopefully, using the latest techniques and strategies provided in this guide, you can launch a highly effective email campaign that brings you great results.

But remember, ensuring the quality of your mailing list and sender reputation does not end with email validation.

You must also properly manage your contact database in lists and segments. Aside from affecting email deliverability, an unmanaged list can also have a negative impact on your email marketing KPIs.

What are the best practices for managing your email list?

  • Send a welcome email. It’s also a great opportunity to let them know that they can adjust their preferences or opt-out completely from the subscription whenever they want to. You can also ask your subscribers to add your email address to their contacts to lessen the chance of your campaigns going into their junk folders. 
  • Avoid spam traps. Spam traps are false data records that are designed to catch companies or brands with poor email marketing practices, such as emailing those who did not opt in. You’re less likely to see engagement (clicks or opens)  from these email addresses so if you regularly remove inactive contacts, you should be in good shape to avoid spam traps.
  • Let subscribers manage their own subscriptions. Most consumers cite frequency of emails as a reason to unsubscribe. Using subscription management lets you manage your subscribers’ email preferences and customize the content they receive, so they won’t opt out of your list. It allows you to stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM without potentially losing a contact when the issue is only in the frequency or type of content, not the email address itself.
  • Audit your list. Statistics show that 25% of your email list will drop off each year. It could be that they changed jobs or changed their email addresses, but whatever the reason, they should be eliminated from your list. Part of email list hygiene is regularly removing email addresses where you get hard bounces or recurring soft bounces. Additionally, eliminate unengaged subscribers. These are valid email addresses that are subscribed to your list but haven’t opened and/or clicked any of your links. Though their email is working, their inactivity hurts your sender reputation score.
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