You know the value of a strong paid search strategy. That’s why you spend significant time and money running ad campaigns, from keyword research to writing ad copy, and targeting your spend in order to drive qualified leads to a landing page.
When prospects click on your ad, you don’t just need them to fill out your webform. You need them to fill out your form correctly.
But here’s the reality: 1 in 10 customers who fill out your webform will enter an incorrect email address. They’ll type “gmal” instead of “gmail.” They’ll forget an “@” sign. The period will be in the incorrect location. Incorrect contact information means no lead.
In the end, your ad spend (and precious time) was lost to a simple typo. Bummer.
The good news? There’s an easy way to recapture otherwise lost leads: email validation.
The problem with landing page forms
What could go wrong when a user tries to fill out the form on your landing page?
A whole bunch of stuff. *Shudder*
For one, there’s the simple, but oh-so-devastating typo. A user forgets to add an “@” sign in their email address. Someone’s typing quickly, and she doubles up on a letter. Another prospect forgot his glasses and didn’t notice he gets the numbers wrong. Whatever the typo might be, suddenly, an otherwise qualified lead is unreachable.
With more users browsing the web on mobile phones than on desktop computers, the problem is compounded. It’s easy to miss a tiny key on a virtual keyboard, or mindlessly enter your email address incorrectly on your phone while binge-watching your favorite TV show.
Marketers also need to protect their forms against spam bots, which can flood databases with inaccurate or toxic emails. While CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA can help, they also interrupt the user experience.
It’s no wonder so many emails entered on webforms are inaccurate.
What is email validation?
Simply put, email validation is a service that determines if an email is deliverable without sending an email to it. An email validation provider corrects poor syntax, suppresses toxic data and ensures deliverability by pinging an email’s domain and mailbox.
Why is this important?
Every company that sends emails will hit bounces—even if the company uses best practices for collecting email addresses, such as only mailing to organic leads who have opted into the database. That’s because, on average, email marketing databases lose 22.5% of their contacts every year.
Continuing to hit invalid or toxic email addresses will damage your reputation as a sender. Your sender reputation impacts how certain Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Email Service Providers (ESPs) filter your emails. A poor reputation could land your emails in the spam or promotions folder—or, worse, could result in blacklisting.
Instead, marketers can use email validation to improve the quality of their data, leading to better inbox placement and higher response rates.
How does email validation work?
Email validation uses a four-step process to determine whether an email address is deliverable or undeliverable.
- Catch and correct poor spelling and syntax, such as a missing “@” sign or “gmal.com” instead of “gmail.com.” Email validation will catch any typos in the email domain part of an address.
- Identify risky or possibly malignant email addresses.
- Check the email domain.
- Ping the email’s mailbox.
Once each email address completes this four-step process, a status code is appended. This status code will identify if the email address is deliverable (good to go), unconfirmed or undeliverable, and why.
In general, marketers will send to the deliverable addresses and remove the undeliverable addresses from their sending list. However, some marketers may still wish to send to email addresses that are unconfirmed, because these often include B2B email addresses with uncommon domains or catch-all email addresses that are difficult or impossible to verify.
The best part: Email validation can take place in real-time via an API.
A marketer or developer would simply need to integrate an email validation provider’s API into their webform. Then, when a user enters their email address, they are alerted instantly that the address is inaccurate. This prompts the user to take a second look and correct any inaccuracies.
Voila! A correct email address is gathered, and a great lead is captured.
What else is email validation used for?
Email validation can also be performed retroactively on a list of emails. We recommend companies clean their data once per quarter. You can upload a .CSV into an email validation provider’s portal and validate the entire list. While this process isn’t instant, it’s still quick. And it’s an important part of regular data hygiene.
Not exactly the supplies you need for good data hygiene.
Other services can also complement and bolster the effectiveness of email validation. For example, let’s say you have a list of customers who have not opened one of your commercial emails within the past year. Does this list have bad email addresses, or are the users simply not interested in your content?
Email validation can provide one piece of the equation. But to understand the complete picture, you need to know when that email account last opened a commercial email. This allows you to better re-engage your disengaged customers and provides an extra layer of protection against fraudulent or poor data.
For example, say your user last opened another commercial email this month, but hasn’t opened your emails for a year. You could send them an enticing coupon to encourage them to open your email and re-engage with your brand.
What’s the ROI for email validation?
Remember: 8.4% of email addresses entered on webforms are inaccurate. But let’s talk ROI in dollars. We’ve done the math for you.
Say, for example, you are an ecommerce company. Your current email list is 25,000 records, and you get an average conversion rate of 1%, with an average order size of $50. That’s $12,500 per email campaign. If you mail twice per month, that’s $600,000 per year.
The average value of each email address, in this case, is equal to $600,000/25,000, or $24.
Say, for example, you capture 1,000 new emails per month. If 8.4% are invalid, that’s up to 84 lost per month or 1,008 new emails lost per year. Taking the average value of $24, that’s $24,192 in lost value, or 4% annual sales.
We also need to factor in the cost of email validation, which starts at $0.01 per email validated. The example above is looking at a spend of $1,200 per year.
$24,192 in sales ÷ $1,200 in cost = 20x ROI. There’s a good chance your numbers aren’t far off, and that doesn’t even include the additional benefit of the better open rates that clean data provides.
Use this same formula to calculate your email validation ROI:
(# of new emails per month)*8.4% = potential # of reclaimed emails
(# of reclaimed email addresses)*(value of an email address) = recaptured revenue
(recaptured revenue)/(cost of email validation) = ROI
Spot check your lead capture with email validation
You spend a lot of time meticulously planning, writing, and analyzing your email sends. Why wouldn’t you focus that attention to detail on your email lists, too? Email validation is an effective way to maximize your ad spend and ensure you are capturing real leads. By stopping bad emails at the point of entry and prompting customers to enter correct addresses, you can make sure to recapture some of that value.
About the author
Kirsten Onsgard is the marketing operations specialist at TowerData, where she helps fellow marketers better reach and engage the person behind the email address. TowerData, a WordStream customer, offers a suite of services that enable marketers can improve the quality, depth, and reach of their data to meet customers with the right message in the right place at the right time. TowerData’s flagship services include email validation, email intelligence, email activity and identity matching.
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