Skip to content

Email Verification: What You Need to Know Before Cleaning Your List

Nov 28, 2019 | 5 minutes
A screen with en e-mail verification content.

With the holidays just around the corner, using an accurate email list for your email marketing campaigns is a must. But where do you start if you’ve never validated a database before? Email verification is an easy process, but there are a few things you should know so you can make the most of it.

What is email verification?

It’s the process that ensures an email list contains only valid and active email addresses. An email verification system removes bad data from databases, such as invalid, abuse, spam trap or catch-all email addresses.

Signs your email list needs cleaning

If you’ve been running email campaigns for a while, you probably keep an eye on your metrics. These give you great feedback on how your emails are performing, and you’re right to worry about any significant decrease. If you’re still not sure whether your database needs a scrub, here are some red flags:

  • Your bounce rate is higher than 2%, which is considered the industry standard

  • Spam complaints are a common reaction from your subscribers

  • Your open rates are much lower compared to the average of 21.33% calculated by MailChimp

  • Some of your subscribers haven’t interacted with your emails in more than six months

Are you experiencing any of these issues? Then it’s best to avoid sending another email before verifying your list.

Where do I start? Finding the right email verification system

First, you’ll need to find a trustworthy service. As email marketing has grown so much in the past decade, the email verification market has expanded, too. How do you choose the right service, when everyone promises a better email list? Here are some key aspects to consider when making your choice:


Your email verifier should _b_e able to detect and remove invalid email addresses. However, there’s so much more to list hygiene. Find a system that can also eliminate:

  • Abuse emails — these belong to users who mark you as spam and affect your reputation as a sender

  • Catch-all emails — created to catch all email sent to them, they are prone to bounces and, thus, risky to your email marketing

  • Spam traps — their only purpose is to lure in spammers and blacklist them, so allow an email cleaner to weed them out

  • Role-based emails — they don’t belong to an individual, but to a group of people, so their email marketing value is low

  • Unengaged emails — once you spot them, you can either attempt to re-engage them, or remove them from your list


This is one of the most important questions to ask. You want accurate results! Otherwise, why would you be cleaning your list in the first place? So, how accurate should your service be? No system can guarantee 100% precise results. If it does, run away — it’s a trap. But anything above 97% is a great start!

Ease of use

Verifying your email list doesn’t have to be a hassle. On the contrary: it should be fast and easy. Most platforms have a simple, three-step process:

  • You upload your email list into the system

  • The email verifier removes bad email addresses

  • You download your clean list

How long it takes depends on the size of your mailing list — it can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.


When you upload your list on an email verification platform, that means you’re sharing it with a third party. Before you start, check to see what data protection mechanisms the company uses. GDPR is a set of serious regulations, and breaking them can result in heavy fines.

What to expect after verifying your email list

You cleaned your list, and now you are ready to send your first email. What differences are you going to notice? The benefits of email verification are immediate:

  • Your bounce rate is going to look much better. If you get more bounces, investigate them to see whether they’re soft (temporary) or hard (permanent). After this, you can retry sending the soft-bounced emails

  • As you’ll start emailing only genuine subscribers, your sender reputation will improve. For Internet Service Providers, this is a great signal: it tells them you follow email marketing best practices, so you deserve to be in people’s inboxes

  • When you reach the inbox, your open rates increase. It’s true that great inbox placement takes more than cleaning your list, but using accurate data is vital

  • You should also see a boost in your click-through rates. Of course, in convincing subscribers to click, your content matters a lot. But first, you have to reach them

  • Keeping in touch with your customers and prospects is going to be easier. Whether you send transactional or marketing emails, you get a real chance to communicate with them. As a result, you’ll notice an overall improvement in engagement metrics — not just open and click rates, but also forwards and replies

Bonus tips to boost your email marketing

Email marketing is constantly changing, and adapting to these changes will help you stay on top of the game. Apart from verifying your email list, there are other things you can do to improve results:

  • Try doing some research on the best time to send an email. Then, run your own tests to see what your audience prefers

  • Once you find your perfect day and time, stick to it. Showing up in your subscribers’ inboxes at the same time every week (or month) will lower spam complaints and build familiarity

  • Pay attention to your subject lines: most people decide whether to open an email just by scanning its subject. Also, avoid any spam trigger words so you can make it to the inbox

  • Strive to be of help to the people who entrusted you with their email address. Make your content useful and engaging, and do so right from the very first line

Ready to clean your list?

Your email list is one of your most powerful marketing assets. If you feel it needs an update, ZeroBounce can be a good starting point. Thanks to the Make integration, using this email verification tool is a breeze: you can connect ZeroBounce to any online service and let it validate email addresses automatically. Make has a number of ZeroBounce modules that let you:

  • Retrieve API usage and credit balances

  • Verify emails in your ZeroBounce account

Once you set them up, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your list stays in shape and you’re reaching your customers.

Bring all your tools together with Make, a web-based tool to connect apps and automate workflows using a beautiful, no-code visual builder. The inbuilt HTTP app enables you to connect to any web service or API without writing a single line of code. Make’s free plan comes with all its powerful features; give it a go and you might just fall in love!


Corina Leslie

Corina Leslie is a PR Manager at ZeroBounce.

Like the article? Spread the word.

Get monthly automation inspiration

Join 75,000+ Makers and get the freshest content delivered straight to your inbox.