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Whether you are sending out cold emails or running an email campaign for your business, the results can be a coin toss - are you going to hit the right email inbox, or are you going to hit a wall that sends back an ominous return-to-sender message? Overcoming this wall is a crucial part of sending out emails for marketing purposes. 

Otherwise, you feel as though you’re wasting your time that could be spent on reaching out to people who can respond. To minimize this from happening you need to embrace the practice of email validation - knowing whether or not an email is still in use and making sure that your email lands in an existing mailbox. 

Navigating email validation

When we use cold emailing as part of an outreach campaign, we want to make sure that we have the highest response rate possible. Good or bad, a response means that our emails are reaching their intended target and that the messaging in it elicits a response. In order to get a response in the first place, we have to make sure that the email reaches the intended inbox. But as it happens, emails go out of use for many reasons - this is where validation comes in. 

Ways you can validate an email address

When you are prospecting targets to send an email to, you can use this time to validate the email address that you want to contact. There are a few ways you can do this:

Manually validate your emails

This is perfect if your prospecting list isn’t too large. Some of the basic things to look out for are typos, strange domains, and making sure they follow the standard syntax rules. Some of the common mistakes include there being no @ in the address, there are spaces or special characters in the address. 

User validation

This process sees people who submit their own email addresses when subscribing are providing a valid one. Sometimes they will receive a link through the email they subscribe with and have to click on an authentication link. 

Using auto-complete or syntax error checker

This is a plug-in or a tool that allows you to check whether there are any syntax errors in the email address that you provide. It can correct these errors and provide you with a usable email address. 

Third-party validation

This tool makes the process of email validation easier for you. It works on both individual emails or in bulk. This tool comes in for form of Saas or through a paid subscription tool. Many of these tools will connect to a server and detect whether or not the email address exists. 

What is an email bounce rate?

By measuring email bounce rate you will be able to know the percentage of emails that bounce or are not delivered per campaign. Knowing your email marketing campaign’s bounce rate helps businesses measure the success of that campaign. If your campaign has a high bounce rate this isn’t a good sign. It could mean that the emails are being blocked or they're being considered as spam by servers. 

Understanding bounced emails

There are different ways that the emails that you send out can bounce, these are categorized into hard, soft, and general bounces. The type of bounce is tells you why the email was rejected before it reached the target inbox. 

What is a hard bounce?

This happens when an email address isn’t valid, it doesn’t exist or it has been blocked. This brings in the question of the quality of your email list, and it can harm your reputation as a sender. This is where the importance of email validation comes in. If your targets have valid email addresses then your hard bounce rate will reduce. 

What is a soft bounce?

When an email is categorized as a soft bounce, it means that the recipient’s email inbox is full, there are problems with their server, or the email you’re sending might be too large for the inbox. How you can prevent this on your end is to make sure that you’re not sending large attachments or images in your email and to have follow-up emails sent out. 

What is a general bounce?

The previous two bounces have clear indicators as to why the email was not sent, however, when an email falls under the general bounce category, it means that your server can’t identify why the email didn't reach the recipient. There is no clear reason, so that means there isn’t any definitive action that you can take to overcome this. 

What is considered an acceptable bounce rate

A general rule of thumb is that anything under a 40% bounce rate is acceptable, but anything over a 50% bounce rate is considered high and you need to make adjustments to your approach. When your bounce rate is high, it diminishes your ability to communicate with your customers or target recipients. 

Ways to reduce your campaigns’ bounce rate

Finding actionable ways to reduce your email bounce rate will take a bit of work, but it’ll ensure the success of your email marketing campaigns. You will need to make adjustments to how you validate your emails, the way you structure the content of your emails, and the way you respond to bounce rate reports.

Focus on your hard and soft bounces

Compile a report of your bounce rates and why your emails bounced. By analyzing the reasons behind your emails bouncing, you now know what to look out for when it comes to validating your email addresses and how you approach your email content. 

Offering a double opt-in

This tool makes the validation process easier. It allows for people signing up for your business’ newsletter to opt in on whether they want to receive marketing. It has an extra verification step that sees users validate their email addresses during this process. It is done through a link sent via email or by leading them to a landing page.

The pitfalls of buying email lists

Cutting corners by buying email lists spells trouble - the same goes for renting out lists through a third-party provider. In these lists, you are bound to find more spam and non-existent emails. Another problem that crops up is that the people on the receiving end have not consented to receive your marketing emails, which means that you may get blocked or be marked as spam. It can harm your reputation as a business and you can get penalized. Also, these recipients will generally not be happy about the situation.

Make sure your lists are clean and verified

You can use a tool that allows you to scrub the list of unverified emails and spam emails. Remove subscribers that don’t engage and allow recipients an easier way to unsubscribe to emails that they aren’t interested in. Remove any duplications and emails that aren’t verified. You may have a slightly smaller target list, but it will result in a lower bounce rate. 

Work on your email’s deliverability

Target recipients that would be interested in your email marketing and allow them to opt out of future communication. Focus on the content in your emails and run tests using your templates to see if the emails that you create meet certain requirements. run tests. When you send out emails, don’t mass email too many contacts at once as it can be flagged as spam. 

How to dodge spam filters

You have to work around spam filters to make sure that your emails don’t bounce. You need to be careful of what's in your email - like strange website links, varying font sizes or colors, and the use of all capital letters. 

Avoid words that are flagged as spam

There are hundreds of words that can set off spam filters, and while these words can easily help get your message across, it would be pointless if the target doesn’t see it in the first place. Common words that get flagged as spam are words that try to urge the recipient to open the email. They can include phrases like “free”, “urgent”, “limited offer” etc. It is quite common for phishing emails to use these phrases as well.

Follow the best practices for HTML

This is a process of creating email templates for email marketing campaigns. It involves coding, designing, and testing the template you plan to use. Its everything you need to make an email attractive. It has to catch headlines, images, and call-to-action buttons in one cohesive format. You need to consider the message is readable on desktop and mobile devices and you need to make sure it doesn’t go against anti-spam rules. 

Be accurate with your subject lines

Don’t lean into clickbait subject lines. Be to the point, but try to elicit a response from the recipient. Be aware of the audience you’re reaching out to and try to personalize it as much as you can, to pique their interest. Don’t add false promises and try to keep your subject line neat and to the point.  

Authenticate the emails

The person who receives your email needs to trust the email they receive, it needs to feel legitimate to them. This is so that your emails don’t get flagged as spam or a phishing threat. There are several tools that can legitimize your emails and help establish communication with little to no issues. 

The benefits of using your own domain

This provides credibility for your business, and it is good for branding and it also gives you a layer of professionalism. It will also help recipients identify you as a legitimate point of contact. If you are still using domains like Google and Yahoo for your email, you should look at changing it up to improve the perception others have on you, there are many providers that offer free domains to be used by businesses. 

Conclusion

Validating email is an important part of any email campaign, this is because it helps your deliverability rate and reduces the chance of emails bouncing. You can keep your email lists clean and verified through a number of ways like double opting in, and user validation. You as a business can do your part by focusing on how your email is structured to reduce bounce rates and achieve success for your email marketing campaigns. 

Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
🕒 6 mins read
Last updated on
May 14, 2024

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Article by
Ajay Paghdal
Outreach Labs Founder
Ajay enjoys tinkering with new link building strategies, building teams and processes around it and in general, has enjoyed being a part of the industry for the past decade.

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