Email Marketing

3 Tools for Cleaning Email Addresses, to Improve Deliverability

Email marketers understand the importance of deliverable addresses. Deliverability is critical for conversions, and it impacts a sender’s reputation with ISPs, among other effects. But a clean subscription file requires diligence in continually removing undeliverable and problematic email addresses.

In this post, I’ll describe three tools to help ensure your subscribers’ email addresses are deliverable.

Verification and Hygiene

There are typically multiple points of data capture for email signups. One is an opt-in on the website. Another is account creation during the purchase process — online or via the phone. Each point has the potential for typos or mistakes.

Email Hygiene and Verification is a tool to aid in determining which email addresses are deliverable. Email addresses that are undeliverable or problematic can be removed from your list.

Email Hygiene and Verification checks the basic syntax of the email address. This identifies, for example, bad domains, misspellings, improperly formatted addresses (, duplicate records, or address with special characters.

The verification process will also check the deliverability of an address with the internet service provider. This will identify undeliverable email addresses and, also, spam traps, which are intentionally invalid email addresses from ISPs and blacklist services to determine if the sender is using proper email hygiene practices.

Mailing to undeliverable addresses and known spam traps could negatively impact your sending IP address reputation and, potentially, could cause an entry on a blacklist. Both should be deleted.

Some verification providers, such as Bridge Corp., will also identify email addresses of high complainers and recipients who frequently opt-out of marketing messages. You could omit those individuals, even though they may have a deliverable email, as they could create reputation problems for your list.

Change of Address

Many email addresses become undeliverable for one reason or another. An email reactivation tool or change of address provider, such as FreshAddress, allows you to find alternate, deliverable addresses. For example, if changes jobs, that address is likely no longer valid. A change-of-address tool could replace the old address with a new, valid one.

Although the percentage of replacement emails could be low, resuming delivery to a high-value customer could be worth the effort.

Email Append

Another option to replace undeliverable addresses is an email append, which is a process to look at this individual’s first name, last name and postal address to find other email addresses associated with that person.

For example, may be undeliverable. But could be an alternate email address for that individual and is deliverable. The append process could also be done at the household level so that other individuals, such as a spouse, is a replacement.

When appending emails, it’s a good idea to send a “permission pass” with the new email addresses, even if the individuals are customers. This informs the recipients that you desire to communicate with them at that address and provides clear opt-out if desired.

It's a good idea to send a "permission pass" to a new email address even if the individual is a customer — such as this email from Hallmark to the author.

It’s a good idea to send a “permission pass” to a new email address even if the individual is a customer — such as this email from Hallmark to the author.

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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