What is email verification and How much does it cost
For any professional email marketer obtaining subscribers and reaching their inbox is the prime goal. But there’s always going to be a chunk of invalid addresses in your email list because of misspellings and fakes. That’s why marketers apply various verifier services to clean up their lists. And that is why we’re going to discuss what is email verification, how much does email validation cost, and the return on investment (ROI).
Having bad emails brings negative impact on overall email deliverability, as well as open rate, click through rate, conversion rate. And not even mentioning the risk of your domain being blacklisted by email providers. When your list includes thousands of emails, validation becomes critical.
What is email verification
Email verification (email validation, email list cleaning, list hygiene) – is a service, which with the help of certain processes/systems/tools, checks the validity of a given email or list. Herein, validity implies the probability that email address exists and it is entered in a proper format. At the basic level, email verification is about syntax, i.e. ensuring an address has no mistakes and the attributes of email – email@example.com.
The advanced level of validation, that many services offer for $$$, goes beyond, typically including things like domain validation, spam-trap removal, deduplication, MX records, etc. Such services are capable of checking up to millions of emails in one list and guarantee ~90-95% accuracy of results.
Basically, there are three ways/approaches to verify emails:
- Go to website or app to verify one or few emails online. Like those old-school ones, VerifyEmailAddress or MailTester, we all used some years ago, where you just entered an address, hit Check and got a result.
- Bulk list verification – a one-time or periodic list submission to a verifier service of your choice, for automatic processing. Results come in after few minutes or hours, depending on number of records.
- Real-time email verification at the point-of-capture. You add a specific code to your website, web form, mobile app or POS, and as a subscriber enters his/her email and hits Submit, is is automatically and instantly checks validity. In case of mistakes it urges a person to correct the email.
Types of email verification
To improve accuracy of validation results there is a number of techniques and approaches, that verifier services apply. Types of email verification are:
- Syntax verification: the ground-level way to verify if an email address is syntactically correct. It checks the format and possibly mistakes, though it does not guarantee an email is real.
- SMTP verification: utilizing Simple Mail Transfer Protocol – SMTP, the system investigates the recipient’s server and finds out if an email exists. Note, that the message is not sent within this technique, we just learn if there’s a real email associated with a certain domain and server.
- Mailbox validation: establishing the connection to a given mail server and checking the existence of mail server records in the DNS, i.e. mailbox existence. Here, the attribute will return “true”, “false” or “unknown” if the SMTP request couldn’t be performed.
- Domain validation: checks if domain is real (typically by sending HTTPS requests to it), as well as DNS, domain registration services for proper ownership/contact information, etc. In other words, the email such as firstname.lastname@example.org is going to be returned as invalid.
Of course, the most reliable way to verify an email would be to send real message and get a reply. But reminding again that we are talking about instances with thousands or millions of emails, so it is irrelevant. One way, though, to implement this is ask your subscribers to click a link sent in email message for confirmation. The flip side is the risk of losing subscribers.
How much does email verification cost
The matter of what is email verification would not be complete without its cost. Most of verifier services have either a free trial or a certain amount of checks for free. It serves well to try stuff out and decide what’s best for you. For regular validations, there’s a price.
From hundreds of SaaS providers for email list cleaning, you might find about a dozen of really decent ones. As a rule, they offer 2 pricing models:
- one-time bulk verification (certain number of addresses)
- subscription, monthly/yearly (various amounts, various features)
With the first one – bulk, you will pay for a single check-up of your email list depending on the number of emails in it. For example, at Xverify, it starts at $5 for 500 addresses, $10 for 1,000, and so forth up to 1M emails for $1,500 and over.
Based on our recent review of best email verification services, let’s take five popular services and calculate the average cost of email verification for 2 list sizes – 1,000 and 100,000 addresses.
|Verification service||Price per 1K emails||Price per 100K emails|
So, a median price to verify 1K emails is $12, and verifying 100K emails in bulk costs $500 on average.
Now, let’s go over to the second pricing model – subscriptions. Here, you can also choose a plan according to amounts of data you’re dealing with, and you can pay on monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. For example, Verifalia offers 4 plans, starting at $9 with 2 million emails per month limit, up to Ultimate for $499 per month. Customers buying a yearly subscription typically get a discounted price.
In a same manner as bulk verifiers, let’s collect monthly plans (basic and maximum) and annual basic plans from five top email verifier services.
|Verification service||Monthly basic plan||Monthly ultimate plan||Yearly basic plan|
As you see, the average price of basic monthly plan for email verification (with up to 10K emails in most cases) appears to be $120. For the advance plan – with titles like Ultimate, Professional, Enterprise, Diamond, etc., you’re going to pay a median $1,350 per month.
What about ROI of verification?
When you invest few hundred bucks in email verification, obviously you want to evaluate its efficiency, i.e. ROI. Return-on-investment measures benefits gained relative to invested costs, and presented in ratio or percentage. Typical formula of ROI is:
|ROI = (profit from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment|
For quick example, say investment is $1,000 and profit is $1,500. So, 500 divided by 1,000 = 0.5 would be the ratio of ROI, or 50%.
Case 1. To calculate the approximate ROI of email verification (every situation is different) offered by various SaaS providers on the web, we need certain base figures:
- $0,005 is the average cost of verification per email address – based on our previous finding about the median $500 cost for bulk 100K emails;
- 15% of all emails entering your lists are invalid – an average market experience;
- $10 is the life-time value (LTV) of each email name acquired – this is merely a median number based on different approaches to measuring it (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4).
Now, let’s take the assumption of 1,000 email signups for our calculations. Moving step-by-step to our ROI equation, 1,000 addresses with 15% invalid rate equals to 150 invalid addresses. 150 invalid emails at $10 LTV means $1,500 missed, right.
By implementing email verification at the point-of-capture – encouraging users to correct mistakes, we turn those invalid emails into valid ones, thus having $1,500 back. The cost of verifying 1,000 emails based on $0,005 average per email is $5. So we’re able to calculate ROI of this virtual case:
As it appears, the ROI for common email verification is close to incredible 300 rate. Of course, this is only a generalized assumptive calculation, do not forget. Let’s take more practical view that is closer to real life business environment.
Case 2. Say, you run an ecommerce store and you get same 1,000 email signups on a monthly basis. That amounts to 12,000 emails per year. Here we need two more sets of data – conversion rate of your email campaigns and CLV – the customer lifetime value.
- The average conversion rate on ecommerce market is 2.5%, though let’s assume an even lower rate – 2%.
- Let’s just take $50 as CLV, because its the whole new debatable topic.
- Let’s also lower the rate of invalid emails to 5% to be more modest.
So, with 12000 user emails per year you get about 600 invalid addresses. 2% of them – 12 users are invalid, therefore you’re losing about $600 (12 * $50 CLV = $600). With email verification implemented at approx. $60, you are virtually getting those potential customers back. In result we get 900% ROI.
Fit your figures into this equation to calculate ROI of your email verification process. Share your data/thoughts, and tell us if we’ve missed something.