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Clean Energy for Better Inbox Placement

This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data indicated higher inbox placement rates than in 2010.  This trend bodes well for savvy email marketing professionals who are discovering the importance of email verification and validation, a natural component(s) of sound deliverability.   Enterprises and ESPs are increasingly perceptive to intelligent strategies that increase inbox placement rates. Using these strategies, and therefore increasing inbox placement, has become an expected element of higher ROI.

Marketers realize that maintaining better overall reputation across their universe of IPs and ultimately domains in the near future,  depends upon keeping their database clean.  Studies have determined that database cleanliness is the first commandment of high inbox placement rates.  Within the deliverability space, cleaning databases has become a rapidly growing micro-industry, which has helped codify intelligent marketers to transform their databases, turning “toxic” databases infested with spam traps and undeliverable addresses into efficient repositories of clean, “reusable” data.

So, given that a clean list improves sending reputation, where do we find “exterminators” that will efficiently and cost-effectively detoxify our mailing lists, particularly those we perceive as having high value?

Marketers are learning the importance of email verification and validation sources to help transform their growing lists.  The business of email verification and validation has become increasingly competitive over the past 12 months,  with new participants entering the arena.  Companies like BrightVerify, Experian QAS, Fresh Address, and LeadSpend play significant roles to ensure that your email lists remain clean.

Validating that an email address is correct when you receive it ensures that you have the potential to communicate with your customer,  and reduces the cost of mailing to invalid addresses.   ISPs penalize marketers for sending to bad email addresses that bounce at a rate of 1-2% or greater, which may cause rate limiting (which effects sending efficiency), or even outright blocks by ISPs.  The collection of inaccurate email addresses that could be spamtraps is another consequence.  The accumulation of spamtraps can trigger a blacklisting, which will heavily impact the reputation of not only the marketer, but also the ESP.  Thus, improving the quality of your data is a very important exercise that requires constant vigilance.  According to ReturnPath, the average bounce rate among clients is roughly 0.76%.

Typically, clients view the value proposition of Email Verification and Validation as a combination of two unique components:

First, when deployed on a registration form through an API, clients will issue real-time prompts to users who initially entered an invalid email address, telling them to reenter a valid one.  This increases the number of valid sign-ups.  Secondly, clients will also avoid sending email to invalid addresses, improving their sender reputation and inbox placement rates.

Verification is different than validation.  The former identifies if the domain is valid, checks whether the syntax is correct, and confirms that the email address is combined with a name/phone/address combination that has been entered previously.  Verification does not check if the email address is valid and deliverable; instead, validation ascertains that the email is valid and moreover, deliverable.  In this case, both processes are important to achieving the optimal inbox.

Here are a few of the companies that can help keep your lists clean and induce better overall deliverability:

For email verification, TARGUSinfo and eBureau are generally accepted companies that have a good reputation in ascertaining proper syntax protocol.  From a validation perspective, advocates in this space are LeadSpend, ExperianQAS, TowerData, Acxiom, FreshAddress, BriteVerify, and StrikeIron.   All of these companies validate email addresses and make sure that undeliverable addresses are methodically extracted from your database.

From a spam trap perspective, Quickie Marketing and ImpressionWise can deduce the right formula to help eliminate spam traps as well, although industry experts will quickly proclaim that this is an excruciating exercise.

Experian QAS is powered by Tower Data and there are several worthy case studies to determine if their services are a good fit.   Acxiom and FreshAddress are validating email addresses against a massive database with genuine historical behavior.  Quickie Marketing and ImpressionWise are more known for their spam trap identification.   Additionally, most ESP’s each have some type of filter (database) for removing noxious email addresses from customer files.   Each ESP has a policy in place to govern what should happen if an email is returned for various bounce related concerns.

Here is the interesting part for players who are considering investing in this micro-segment of deliverability.   Currently, the total addressable market is probably $60MM, and growing 10% annually.  After a brief chat with Craig Swerdloff of LeadSpend, he had this to say about the current market activity in this space: “ISP’s are making it increasingly difficult for marketers to establish sender reputation, and raising the bar for mail to get delivered to the inbox.  As a result, maintaining good standing is critical.  A clean database is the key to a good sender reputation.”

This post was inspired by Craig Swerdloff of LeadSpend.

 

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