Last Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Email deliverability has been a hot topic for marketers for quite some time. With mailbox providers getting more aggressive about their spam blocking and filters, inbox placement has become a priority issue for many marketers to address. To protect their email deliverability, marketers need to implement email verification as part of the pre-campaign routine. In this article, we are comparing a few email verification service providers to help you find the one that will keep your email list clean.
Why Verify Your Email List?
Email deliverability is a complex topic, but it comes down to 3 things:
- Sender reputation, this includes sender email/domain as well as IP address it sends from.
- List and content quality.
So deliverability is strongly correlated to your sender reputation and hard bounce rate is one of the factors affecting it. With high hard bounce rates sender reputation takes a hit. If you don’t implement any actions to reduce your bounce rate it can negatively impact your inbox placement. Your domain might get marked as SPAM by Internet Service Providers, which can result in your emails being delivered to the SPAM folder, and even lead to getting your domain appear on blacklists.
Risk of Account Suspension with Your ESP
An average email list decays at a rate of 2% per month for B2C lists and 3% for B2B lists. So if an email list hasn’t been engaged in more than 3-4 months it can have more than a 10% bounce rate on the first bulk campaign. A bounce rate over 10% can result in getting an account suspended on many email platforms, in addition to causing long-term damage to your sender reputation.
About Catch_all and Accept_all emails
Email verification will also prevent you from sending your campaign to disposable (aka temporary) emails as well as emails that domains set up as catch_all. Disposable emails are often used by spammers and fraudsters. Once created they usually are valid for around 48hrs, and later become invalid emails that will generate hard bounce. Catch_all also known as Accept_all emails, is an address that is specified to receive all messages that are addressed to an incorrect email address for a domain. The risk with such emails is that it might seem to be valid, however, it could still generate a hard bounce. By using email verification you will be able to establish which of the addresses are set up as catch_all, but you won’t learn if it is deliverable or not. The decision to message such addresses should be based on the overall quality of your list.
Email Bounces and Cost
There is of course a budget factor – email verification can save you money. Sending your campaign to undeliverable or risky addresses via your ESP’s or marketing platform can generate extra costs, with no chance of generating any return on investment (ROI).
Verification Process and Results
In a typical verification process you upload a CSV file and once validation is complete you see stats on the results and options to download your verified list. Most verification services produce at least these 4 statuses:
- Deliverable – these emails are safe to send to
- Undeliverable – these addresses no longer exist and should not be sent to
- Risky – these emails are likely to result in a high bounce rate (often catch-all addresses)
- Unknown – these emails couldn’t be verified so may result in high bounce rate.
If your email verification provider allows it, you should download Deliverable, Risky, and Unknown as separate lists and upload them as separate lists into your email marketing platform. If you are starting fresh with a new service provider you should ONLY send your 1st campaign to Deliverable addresses only, to ensure the lowest possible bounce rate. This is because many providers move you onto a shared IP pool tier that correlates to your 1st campaign or campaigns sent in the first 1-2 days.
On average, email lists identified as Risky or Unknown by email verification providers result in 30% bounce rate, so they should be slowly added into large bulk campaigns overtime, to finalize verification through sending.
While bounce rate below 10% will not result in you getting banned from an email marketing platform your goal should be to keep bounce rate below 3% for best email deliverability.
Choosing an Email Verification Service
There are a lot of email verification services available, and it might be overwhelming when searching for the right one for the first time. There are several methods used by providers to verify emails so there is a small variation in results and accuracy. We find that the difference in accuracy is fairly small – around 2% – while the cost can vary x2-5.
For this comparison article, we are focusing more on affordable providers we have evaluated as potential partners. BigMailer is a very affordable email marketing platform, so it was important for us to continue to offer our customers great value when integrating a 3rd party email validation service.
Other factors that we considered besides cost are: security and GDRP compliance, availability of robust APIs to process large data sets, possibility to run a test prior to purchase, and finally the team behind the service and support.
Below are the services we had reviewed and ranking factors we have checked for this article:
As we were evaluating prospecting partners 3 services stood out (and we got you extra discount with all 3):
TheChecker is positioned as the lower cost provider with good verification speed, and likely to appeal to a lot of BigMailer customers. It is the fastest verification service by far – about 5-10 times faster than others we have tested. Get 20% off the first order with the link above.
Bouncer is slower than TheChecker but offers about 2% higher accuracy and is based in EU. Get a 10% discount with our link.
DeBounce (added to this article in Jan 2021) offers comparable accuracy to Bouncer, but is about x2-3 slower. We like it because of great UI and deeper volume discounts with attractive pricing on volumes over 1 million credits. If you want to give DeBounce a try you can use our discount code “BIGMAILER” to get 10% off.
Here is our comparison on speed and file upload limits for a quick reference:
All 3 providers have de-duplication but they act on it differently (as of Jan 2021):
- TheChecker automatically de-dupes your list but doesn’t display the info on results so it can be confusing why your output list is smaller than the list you uploaded.
- Bouncer automatically de-dupes and displays the stats.
- DeBounce requires you to turn de-duplication on in the UI, otherwise it doesn’t happen and your results can be confusing.
If you tried out these providers and have feedback to share please leave it in the comments.
Happy email marketing!