This playbook’s objectives are to determine a list validation strategy and start identifying segments vulnerable to list decay.
- For an introductory look at Everest’s List Validation, please read:
- If you are a new Everest customer with no prior relationship with Validity, complete onboarding to ensure you are familiar with navigating and using Everest.
- If you were a Return Path or 250ok customer and are moving to Everest, complete your migration process.
- Ensure you have completed the Everest Basic Setup Guide.
To get the most visibility into performance metrics related to your list quality, complete the advanced setup guides.
- Everest Advanced Setup Guide 2: Sending Reputation (FBL Complaints)
- Everest Advanced Setup Guide 3: Engagement (Pixel and ESP/sending platform integration)
Important! As you use Everest, keep track of the subscription allotments based on your service tier and plan according to your sending frequency and the size of your email database. You can find your subscription information by navigating to: My Everest>Account Settings>Subscription.
- Common list hygiene challenges
- How List Validation fits into your process
- Important list hygiene metrics and where to find them
- How to determine your List Validation Strategy
- Establishing baseline metrics
- How to start identifying segments vulnerable to list decay
- What to do next
Sending email to invalid email addresses has a negative impact on your email program. Common sender challenges with list hygiene issues are:
- We know having a clean list is important but don’t know how to quantify the impact of validation
- We do bulk list validations each quarter, but the results are not as good as expected
- We spend a lot of money acquiring new email addresses with poor or mixed results.
By using Everest’s List Validation, senders see improved results with:
- Fewer bounced emails
- Improved delivered rates
- Increased open rates
- Increased click rates
A traditional email marketing process consists of three phases: Pre-Send, In-Flight, and Monitoring. Using List Validation to identify valid email addresses during the pre-send phase is an important part of your list hygiene strategy.
- Inform your email campaign strategy with Everest’s Competitive Intelligence
- Plan campaign
- Select target subscriber list
- Design campaign
- Validate email list using Everest’s API or bulk List Validation
- Test campaign design using Everest’s Design & Content
- Send campaign to subscribers and the Everest seed list
- View your campaign’s inbox placement, spam, and missing results
- Monitor performance using Everest’s Engagement, your ESP, or internal sending platform.
- Monitor sending reputation metrics using Everest’s Monitoring to understand the impact to your deliverability.
- Monitor DMARC compliance to identify unauthorized use of your domain and brand using Everest’s Infrastructure feature.
Once you decide on and implement a list validation strategy, you can find the metrics to help you measure the impact of your strategy in Everest.
List Validation metrics are displayed after your list is validated in the Pre-send>List Validation section:
- Valid %: It is safe to send email to these addresses.
- Invalid %: It is not safe to send to these email addresses. Add them to your suppression list.
- Address Invalid %: The email address format is incorrect, such as a missing @ sign.
- Domain Invalid %: The domain either doesn’t exist or is spelled incorrectly.
- Account Invalid %: The domain is valid, but the specific email address does not exist.
- Risky %: Use caution when sending to these email addresses. Email addresses in this category often have poor results when compared to email sent to valid email addresses.
- Accept-all %: Receiving server accepts all email and invalid email addresses may be bounced back to you later.
- Role %: Email addresses serving a specific function such as sales@, marketing@. These addresses may be monitored by a team of people and give unpredictable results.
- Disposable %: Temporary addresses created to sign up for a promotion and expire quickly.
- Unknown %: The email address appears to be valid, but the receiving server is not responding. This could be temporary or represent an abandoned domain.
List hygiene engagement data is visible in the Monitoring>Engagement and Monitoring>Reputation sections.
- Spam traps
From your ESP or sending platform
Before getting started, check the number of available List Validation allotments by navigating to My Everest>Account Settings>Subscription. The number of allotments you have may impact how you use Everest’s List Validation.
When it comes to deciding on a list validation strategy, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each business needs to assess its email program and weigh business needs with the number of allotments purchased.
- We recommended using List Validation primarily for new subscribers (list acquisition) and unengaged subscribers (list hygiene) for best results.
- New subscriber email addresses often contain syntax errors, malformed domains or are temporary addresses.
- Unengaged subscribers may represent people that have left their job or abandoned an email address for a new email address.
- It isn’t necessary to validate subscriber email addresses that already engage with your email. It is only at the point they become unengaged should they be validated.
Determine the validation method and frequency
Most businesses use a combination of methods to suit evolving business needs. Frequently check the number of available allotments to determine if adjusting your strategy or additional allotments are required.
Select validation method
- API: Use the Everest List Validation API if development resources are available. The API allows you to validate all addresses at the point of collection and in your database in real-time or with an automated schedule.
- We recommend validating addresses in real-time using the Everest API as it prevents invalid email addresses from entering your database.
- API and bulk: Some businesses may only be able to use the API at a point of collection. In this case, you can also perform ad-hoc bulk list validations using the Everest List Validation user interface.
- Bulk: If you do not have API resources or are waiting for resources to become available, use the Everest List Validation user interface to run ad-hoc bulk validations.
For instructions on validating your list in Everest, please read:
Select validation frequency
- Real-time: If you use the API, validate email address at the time they are entered into your system or using an automated script set up by your IT department.
- General frequency guidelines. Use the guidelines below as a starting point and adjust as needed based on available allotments.
- Daily senders should validate at least twice per week
- Weekly senders should validate at least twice per month
- Monthly senders should validate at least once per month
- Prior to each Campaign: Some senders may find it easier to validate addresses for each campaign to manage allotments for both planned and ad-hoc campaigns.
- For each individual campaign, identify your target segment(s)
- Validate new subscribers that have not been sent any email or have been sent email and have not engaged.
- Validate existing subscribers that have not engaged in the last 90 days.
- Ad-hoc: Use Everest’s List Validation for these important scenarios.
- Unplanned campaigns: Last-minute campaigns are needed for a variety of reasons. Take the time to validate email addresses to help ensure your campaigns are delivered.
- Old & dormant subscribers: Business decisions are sometimes made to send email to a segment of email addresses that have not been sent email in a long time. We recommend you don’t send to these addresses because of the harm it causes to your sending reputation. If you choose to send to old and dormant subscribers, then validate the addresses prior to sending any email.
- IP warm-up: You want to target your most engaged subscribers during the beginning of an IP warmup. Once you start introducing less engaged subscribers into the warmup process, validate those subscribers.
- Business acquisitions: If you acquire another company and you integrate marketing operations, be sure to validate their list, especially if you plan on sending their email from your ESP or sending platform.
Tips for managing allotments
- It’s best to have real-time or regularly scheduled validations to maintain list quality, but you may need to consider other factors when managing validations to accommodate available allotments.
- Use the frequency guidelines above based on your sending schedule.
- Prioritize validations for important times of year or high revenue campaigns.
- Focus on validating email addresses at your top ten mailbox providers. If Gmail comprises 50% of your list, then you have more to gain by using allotments on Gmail subscribers than at a mailbox provider that is only 1% of your list.
Record the List Validation baseline metrics in a spreadsheet. Use historical data for your baseline metrics if available from BriteVerify or other list validation software. If you do not have historical data, establish a baseline by calculating an average of your first five validations. Include other metrics important to your business as needed, such as average order value.
- Valid %
- Invalid %
- Risky %
- Bounce rate
- Delivery rate
- Inbox Placement rate
- Open rate
- Click rate
Tracking and analyzing vulnerable segments to list decay helps you make informed decisions about what changes to make to your email program.
- Using the baseline metrics spreadsheet, start recording results for each campaign and the segments validated based on your list validation strategy.
- If you aren’t validating based on campaign, then just record metrics for each validated segment.
- Record the valid, invalid and risky percentages for each segment.
- For each campaign sent over the next 90 days, record your segments and validation metrics.
- At the end of 90 days, calculate the valid, invalid, and risky percentage averages for each segment and sort the segments by highest valid percentage.
- Note which segments have the lowest valid %.
Depending on the makeup of the segment, it makes sense for some segments to have a higher percentage of valid subscribers than other segments. If your segments are primarily classified as new or unengaged, note the points of collection for each address and determine if a particular point of origin is contributing to list decay.
For example, purchasing email addresses may be an easy way to grow your list, but if most of the addresses from those list purchases are invalid or never buy from you, then you aren’t getting a good return on your investment. In this case, you should consider shifting your acquisition strategy to other sources that provide a greater return.
Subscriber engagement-based reasons for list decay
As you progress in adding more segments and sophistication to your analysis, start identifying engagement-based reasons for list decay related to unsubscribes and spam complaints.
For example, you may have segments with a higher percentage of valid addresses, but if a large number of subscribers unsubscribe or mark your email as spam, then it may suggest not only an issue with your permission method (opt-in, opt-out, etc.), but it may also suggest an issue with your content (Everest's Design & Content feature can help you optimize content).
Congratulations on finishing the Everest List Validation: Intermediate playbook.