Email address verification - What is it exactly?
Email address verification mainly focuses on verifying if the email address exists or not and if it does not, why. There are dozens of email list hygiene companies to choose from and most say they do verification, but do they? A lot of services who offer to scrub email list free are actually validation companies that do not do verification. They simply cannot remove bounces. The reason is, they offer a free service for it, is because their cost to match and remove emails versus doing an SMTP handshake is way less so they can make those kinds of offers. This article focuses on email address verification and how to spot companies that simply cannot do it so you don’t waste your money.
Email marketing services require a clean list to be uploaded. Lists that are not tainted with traps and bounces. Spam fighters purchase expired domains and active the mx. It’s a good way to track if someone purchased a list which they feel is spam. Unfortunately, if you let an email list sit there for months or a year without mailing to it, it can accumulate traps, bounces and even complaints (if the recipient doesn’t remember opting in to your campaign. So if you are iffy about your list, you most likely will need to hire a list hygiene company to clean it up for you. And as we said above, there are dozens to choose from and not all of them do verification.
Email address verification talks to the mail exchange and asks certain questions (mx checking) before it sends a message to the recipient (smtp handshake). Some companies skip the mx part, but we feel it is crucial to cleaning. If the recipient’s server accepts the email then the email is flagged as “ok” or “good”. If the recipient is cautious, it then offers a list of responses:
This is where the recipient accepts the email but bounces it back to the sender. Accept All’s hurt your reputation and thus can lower your sending score.
500 – Server didn’t recognize because of syntax error
501 – Syntax in command argument
502 – Command was not implemented
503 – Bad sequence of commands
504 – Command parameter is not in place
550 – Command request failed because mailbox was unavailable
552 – The action was aborted due to excess storage allocation
553 – Command aborted because mailbox name was is invalid
554 – Command failed for some unstated reason
Similar to a 550 or 553 above, the ISP is blocking the message due to complaints from the domain or IP or the content is “spammy”. What they call in the industry a “false positive”.
Similar to a 554, an unknown is a response where the ISP is having difficulty accepting the recipient. These could be due to a power outage, server disruption or improper smtp/ms configuration on the ISP end.
The email itself is disabled for reasons unknown. Either the recipient stopped using the mailbox and the ISP took it over or they deleted the account. Sometimes an ISP will send back false positives if it believes the delivery is suspicious.
Email address verification focuses on all of the above aspects and reports back to the client the reasons why the email failed to be accepted and verified. Most verification companies who know what they are doing can send back accurate reports so the emailer can determine what to mail to and what not to. If the verification company does not send back reports that say the above information, then chances are you are dealing with a validation company that are not doing smtp processing. You probably may be wasting money if you are worried about removing bounces.