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What is email verification, and why do I need it?

by Jarrett Lusso on June 24, 2019

Email verification is the process of determining if an email address is good before you send. To give you a better understanding, let’s break down the process below.

Anatomy of an Email Address

We’ll be using these terms below, so let’s define them here. Every email has a user and a domain:

Email:    mickey@blazeverify.com
User:     mickey
Domain:   blazeverify.com

Syntax Check

The syntax check is the first step in eliminating invalid emails. It’s simple to determine that an email with an invalid format will not be deliverable. The canonical format for an email address is very complicated. Essentially, we’re looking to make sure the address has a user, an @ symbol, and a properly formatted domain.

DNS Check

Next, we check for mail exchanger records, a.k.a. MX records. For those that are less tech-savvy, this means we’re looking to determine how to reach the mail server. At least one mail exchanger record is required. Without it, the address is invalid, since there is nowhere to send the email.

Mail Server Check

This is the final check, commonly referred to as an SMTP check. An SMTP check, in its simplest form, is asking the mail server if we can send an email to this address. Many mail servers will respond with a simple yes or no response.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. Many email servers are independently operated and have unique configurations. This results in many different responses. Some servers also give non-answers, or answers that don’t follow the RFC.

As a result, this makes things far more complicated. To accurately verify email addresses, we’ve invested in building address-specific strategies. Our strategies are constantly adapting, and are based on millions of email verifications. This is integral to providing our customers the most accurate results.

Additional Information

The purpose of these categories is identifying more information about an email address. With more information, you can make better, more informed decisions. This will lead to sending more accurately targeted email campaigns.

Free Email

An email address at a free provider like gmail.com is likely not a business. If your business is B2B, sending to these emails may not be worth it. If it’s B2C, you may want to.

Disposable Email

A disposable email address will only exist temporarily. People who either have malicious intent, or do not intend to become a customer at all, tend to use these email addresses. Therefore, you should never send to a disposable address.

Role Email

A role address represents a group of people or a department at a company. An example of this would be support@blazeverify.com. We recommend you avoid sending to these addresses.

Accept-All Email

An accept-all email is an email address whose mail server accepts emails to any recipient, regardless of whether the user exists or not. As a result, it cannot be accurately verified, and we recommend you take caution when sending to these addresses.

Did You Mean

This check identifies common misspellings. Something like john.smith@gmali.com was probably supposed to be john.smith@gmail.com. We’ll suggest a corrected version if we identify one.

Tagged Email

A tagged email is something like mickey+tech@blazeverify.com. People typically use tags to organize their inbox, or to keep track of which address they gave a service.

Wrapping it up

Hopefully, you now understand the benefits of email verification and how it works. Now you can start eliminating those high-risk addresses, and consider using the additional information to identify your customers. You can send better email campaigns with a higher ROI, and you won’t be putting your company’s sending reputation at risk.

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