We’re back with our next blog in our partnership with Lauren Meyer, Mailjet’s global VP of delivery & head of operations, North America. What are the things you should expect to encounter, positive and negative, when you start cleaning your email marketing lists via validation?
If you checked out “Email Validation 101: What is it and why should I care?,” we covered the ins and outs of email list validation—what it does and doesn’t do—and along the way, addressed common myths and misconceptions. And if you did, congratulations; you’re a bona fide validation expert ready to look at choosing the right vendors for the job. But before you do, let’s take a look at some trends and features to be considered before you make the leap.
Consideration #1: You might want to work with multiple vendors
As we’ve pointed out, not all list validation vendors are created equal, and you might want to work with multiple. According to The Relevancy Group’s report, “The Power of Email Verification and Multi-Method Hygiene,” marketers using multiple list hygiene methods (often provided by more than one vendor) outperform those that do not. While we don’t shy away from recommending multiple vendors to our customers, there’s an important underlying consideration: Are you paying for the same results twice or more?
In a benchmark we conducted while building our own email validation tool, we found many offerings in the industry are using the same underlying technology. Or more simply, Vendor A is actually using the backend of Vendor B. Validation providers reselling their technology to direct competitors is a very common practice, so before you make a purchase, it’s worth asking your prospective service provider: Is your technology proprietary, or are you reselling someone else’s?
Consideration #2: Your results may vary
Most list validation solutions hinge on checking addresses against SMTP. Without getting overly technical, SMTP-based checks are conducted when a vendor takes your address, runs some small checks to make sure it’s valid syntax, then opens a connection to a receiving mailbox provider to see if it returns an error.
This type of validation is highly subject to inaccuracy because on average 16% of lists uploaded into our system are accept-all addresses, meaning they can’t be validated via SMTP. We’ve seen that percentage as high as 30% on individual lists. As we mentioned earlier, not all vendors are created equal; some are opening SMTP connections using poor practices that result in outright blocking at most major providers. How can someone validate an address if they’re blocked?
Psst: They can’t.
It’s also worth considering mailbox providers like Verizon Media Group (AOL, Yahoo) configure all of their mailboxes to be accept-all. This means that no matter what address they attempt to reach, a valid SMTP response is received and as a result, a substantial portion of your list could contain bad addresses while being flagged as valid. When you’re evaluating vendors, we recommend asking what steps they take in addition to SMTP to account for accept-all addresses, spam traps, etc., so you’re not frequently paying for false positives or false negatives.
Consideration #3: Which features best suit your needs
Email validation solutions have largely operated the same over the years, and we think there’s significant room for improvement. If you’re simply wanting to clean lists after collection as a means of purging bad data, the status quo may work for you. However, as we’ll outline below, list validation can lead to both a false sense of list quality and reliance on validation to account for problematic list growth practices.
When considering a vendor, just ask them for their track record. What new features have they released in the past 6-12 months? What does their platform offer beyond post-collection address disposal? With the right mix of analytics and features to improve address collection at the source, validation can become a marketing enablement activity instead of the traditional risk-reduction model. If the goal is to send to more valid addresses, and we’re now aware of accuracy concerns, what can list validation solutions offer YOU to support valid, positive list growth?
If you’re feeling ready to dive in, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of email validation from a deliverability perspective. Take it away, Lauren!
That’s all for now! We’ll see you again in two weeks. Until next time.
Lauren is responsible for Mailjet’s global deliverability and compliance, and also directs Mailjet’s North American operations. She is a data nerd at heart, who is passionate about spreadsheets and spends much of her free time juggling twins and searching for her next great slice of NYC pizza.