Why Email List Cleaning and Validating your Data is so Important

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Deliverability, Email List Cleaning    

As most email marketers know, you live and die by your IP reputation.

What is IP Reputation? All email must originate from an IP address. Each IP address has an associated score or IP reputation. Your IP reputation can be used to tell if a specific IP Address is responsible for sending Unsolicited Bulk Email, known as UBE or Spam. Your IP reputation can also be damaged by email recipients who click the spam button or complain about receiving an email that they never signed up to receive. Sending emails to non-existent email accounts will also hurt your IP reputation with most major ISP’s. ISP’s and email administrators can stop between 70-90% of all inbound connections from a simple query that shows if the IP reputation is in question or poor and if a specific IP address is being used to send spam, attempting to deliver email to an account that does not exist or is receiving an abnormal amount of complaints.
It is up to the person who owns that IP Address to be responsible for what comes out of that IP Address. If they don’t stop spam from originating from their IP, they can get a reputation for that behavior. Almost every large company, ISP and email server uses it to some extent; otherwise they would have to process almost 20 times as much email as they would without it.

There are many companies and resources that track that type of behavior, and create IP reputation lists. Often those lists are used to completely reject email coming from that IP Address. These lists are compiled from data that shows which IP Address is responsible for certain types of behavior. The following are some examples:

  • The IP Address belongs to a system that is NOT an email server.
    • It might be an infected personal computer
    • It might be a compromised web server
  • The IP Address belongs to an ISP or email server that doesn’t prevent outbound spam
  • The IP Address belongs to an ISP that doesn’t respond to Spam complaints
  • The IP Address belongs a known spammer
  • The IP Address belongs to a company that allows UBE/Spam. (Offshore bulletproof hosting)

Nobody wants to send to email addresses that are bad, undeliverable, spam seeds, BOTS or especially complainers. Email Answers offers a service that will clean and validate your existing email address database. Our email list hygiene service keeps your email lists up to date by identifying and purging bad, invalid, undeliverable, known complainers, seed, duplicate and BOT email data. Major benefits of this service include maximizing deliverability, avoiding being black listed or being labeled a “spammer” by ISP’s and black list owners, and reducing your overall marketing costs associated with your email marketing efforts due to bouncing emails.

What is List Cleaning & Email Validation?

Below is a detailed explanation of how the entire process works. We use an 8 step process to clean and validate email addresses.

  1. Duplicate Email: We remove duplicates, improperly formatted email addresses and syntax errors. (Duplicate removal is not provided when ‘Matching Service’ is ordered)
  2. Role Accounts: Removal of “Role Account” emails, such as: sales@, support@, info@, etc.
  3. Keyword Scrub: We remove words like spam, junk, abuse, etc. from the list of emails.
  4. Bounce File Compare: We’re continuously updating a list of 100+ million hard bounces and we remove these emails from the list when we run a compare. This includes emails which have sent a challenge response or requested removal.
  5. Complainers File: We compare our complainers file to the list of emails and remove any matches. We also remove emails if they are a member of Spamcop.
  6. Domains | Spam Traps: We compare and remove any spam seed, BOT, honeypot, black list or bogus emails/domains from the list of email address domains. The list we own and maintain is about 156,000+ domains.
  7. Throwaway, disposable email addresses: We remove all temporary, junk collector email addresses. These email addresses are usually implemented for a one time use to sign up or to bypass providing a valid, primary email address.
  8. Validate emails: Our proprietary verification software/system validates each email address in your database, to see if it is an address that can accept email. This is done through multiple servers with enhanced white listings in place with all major ISP’s. We connect to the email addresses mail server, as part of our validation process, but NEVER send an email to the recipient.

What does it cost? It’s relatively cheap, compared to the reduced ROI you will see if your IP reputation is damaged by undeliverable email or spam complaints.

Keeping your email list clean and ensuring it is deliverable has to be one of the most important things any marketer can do.

Updated: March 3, 2015

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