Although the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 may have come into effect nearly 10 years ago, it hasn’t helped change the level of spam most email users receive on a regular basis. Don’t believe me? Take a look at www.barracudacentral.org/data/spam. Barracuda, an industry-leading IT company, blocked nearly 400 million emails marked as spam yesterday alone; roughly 85% of all the emails they processed. And Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have taken notice, as they are quick to block any type of messaging reported as spam.
For any legitimate business trying to use email marketing as a valuable tool, the message should become quite clear: keep clean customer records or there’s a good chance you’ll hurt your sender reputation and future email marketing initiatives.
At Polk Three, we often manage our client’s email marketing campaigns through the use of their organic contact lists and are proactive about ensuring their reputation remains intact. That is why we started using Email Validation services before most email campaigns. Email Validation services vary on the level of information they provide, but the overarching theme is checking the email to ensure it’s (in)validity. The price points also vary depending on the information desired.
As there isn’t a lot of information currently available online about Email Validation providers, we spent a fair bit of time researching each company and what they had to offer. Here are our personal findings:
- Provide very basic information: whether the email address is valid or invalid
- The information you receive will appear as:
- Valid – safe to mail
- Address Invalid – do not mail
- Domain Invalid – do not mail
- Account Invalid – do not mail
- Accept All (email looks good, but the associated domain says that to All emails from that domain. Could potentially bounce.)
- Unknown (email looks good but the domain is not responding)
- Although this is still useful to ensure your records are accurate, there is still a high level of uncertainty. For instance, a good portion of our test email addresses came back as “Accept All”, forcing us to further analyze the data.
- Brite Verify’s customer service was extremely helpful, which provided us with more confidence in using this service again in the future.
- Very affordable solution, at $0.01 per email address.
REVIEW: Brite Verify is an entry-level product, in our opinion. It saves the day in weeding out emails that will most certainly bounce. However, the Accept All status is especially frustrating because most major corporate email systems accept all incoming mail so they can manage their own spam. Upon further analysis, we were able to determine that many email addresses given the Accept All status were actually valid, so it is subjective whether we recommend a client include these records for email marketing.
- Provides more in-depth analysis than Brite Verify
- Email correction suggestions
- Spam trap detection
- Associated roles with the address
- Time length it took for the email ping to respond
- Various email status explanations (ex. mailbox full, server not responding, not a valid mail domain, etc.)
- The service level seems great. However, the cost commitments are much more substantial than most small businesses require. If you are a larger business and work with large email lists, Strike Iron would be a good validation service to use.
- Strike Iron also features a Salesforce application, which could be of value to your business
REVIEW: Strike Iron is robust and is packed with horsepower. A few key points:
- You will need to spend considerable time studying their knowledgebase to understand their status codes within the report. It can appear overwhelming, but after dedicated study time you’ll get the picture.
- Because of their monthly pricing model and sophisticated report, Strike Iron is best suited for ecommerce or large enterprise clients that have considerable more addition and attrition to their email lists.
- Their spam trap detection feature is awesome! They have the ability to reference if that email address is a high spam complaint address. This behaviour detection may save you a lot of heart ache over those individuals that are spam trigger happy.
- If the email address is accurate and in the correct format (formatting, spelling, domain checks)
- If the address is valid through an SMTP check
- If the email address has a history of bouncing, opting out, reporting email addresses, spam traps, or even if the contact is deceased
- We were unsuccessful with larger sets of data, receiving incomplete sets of data. It took months to hear back from customer service
REVIEW: The service was a cross between Brite Verify (cost and simplicity) and Strike Iron (can receive additional data for a cost). However, our entire experience was damaged by poor customer service. Errors can take place with any business, but poor customer service often determines the likelihood of repeat business.
Overall we found that both Brite Verify and Strike Iron’s solutions delivered value, and the decision to use either product has more to do with client requirements. For small businesses, Brite Verify is a great choice to give basic validation. Sometimes this product can leave you with more questions than answers, but we do confirm that it is very useful in the right situation. Strike Iron is a high powered product and it lives up to their marketing statements. Extraordinary detail and status codes with high service levels is how we can best describe Strike Iron. Great product for large enterprise and ecommerce businesses.
Unfortunately, due to Data Validation’s poor customer service, it is a service we are unable to rely on for our email validation needs.
Although we have not used the following resources, they are also on our radar and may be of value for your email validation needs.
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