I received a question from a past Mailchimp class attendee today and I thought I should share my thought around this.
Tracey asked if using an email verification service is worthwhile or a waste of time and money.
What is email address verification?
Email address verification involves identifying the chance of deliverability for any given email address (i.e. the chance that the email address will receive email messages that you send them).
Many services provide email address verification and most typically assign a score to an email address that corresponds to the chance of delivery. For example a score of 100 may mean an extremely good chance that an email address will receive email from you and a score of 50 may mean that the email address is valid however there are various reason that may deliverability to that email address may be lower.
It isn’t possible in a short article such as this to go into too much detail however things like free email addresses (Gmail, Hotmail etc.), role-based email addresses (admin@, office@ etc.) and so on are seen as determinants of a lower quality email address.
Why your email marketing service cares about the quality of your email addresses
Hard bounced email messages count against the senders domain quality and IP address. When you send from Mailchimp for example you are sending from both your domain and Mailchimps domain. If Mailchimp were to get a lower domain score then the delivery rates of all their customers would be negatively affected. Mailchimp therefore have an interest in preventing hard bounces (and especially abuse reports) from occurring; they do this proactively by looking at email addresses that you import into your audience and identifying if there is a high chance of hard bounces.
So, should you use an email verification service?
If you send email marketing regularly to your subscribers and you’re not adding large numbers of new subscribers via import, then you likely don’t need to use a verification service.
If however you haven’t sent to a list of email addresses for awhile then it is likely a good idea to get the email addresses verified. This will help identify those email addresses that are no longer valid and those that are considered to be of a low quality score.
Are there any issues with sending to a purchased email list?
In regards to purchasing lists of email addresses, this is almost certainly contrary to your local spam or privacy laws in addition to a breach of the terms of service of your email marketing provider.
An electronic message is “spam” if … the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent.
Furthermore, sending to a purchased list will result in high bounce rates and abuse reports (recipients marking you as a spammer). This will negatively affect your domain score and will result in low deliverability when you send from your domain.
I’ve consulted in regards to email marketing for many years and have been asked by organisations on occasion to assist when their emails suddenly go directly to the recipients spam or junk folder. Usually this is because they have purchased a list of email addresses and their domain quality has been affected accordingly.
In addition, I’ve heard of (but haven’t seen the data to prove this) visits from Google search reducing significantly following the lowering of domain quality due to high bounce rates and abuse reports from email. This makes sense as Google knows which domain are sending spam email and are actively trying to reduce spam in Gmail. In short, I have heard enough to believe that sending to purchased email lists has a negative effect on SEO.