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Email Verification: How It Works and Why You Need It


What do email marketers actually mean when they refer to email verification? One marketer’s validation is another one’s verification. The two terms are often used interchangeably, which isn’t correct, as they both have different meanings.

However, that’s not all bad news. Developers and QAs also mean different things under validation and verification methods. 

First, let’s clarify this terminology confusion and then see how you could do both: validate and verify emails without actually sending an email.

What is email verification?

Email verification is a process that helps verify if there is an actual user on the receiving end of the email address. It consists of sending an activation link/code to an email address, which the end user should activate from their inbox.

The role of email verification is to:

  • Increase your outreach
  • Protect your sender’s reputation
  • Prevent hard bounces and high bounce rates
  • Prevent your email domain from being blacklisted
  • Increase security and prevent users from malicious data input
  • Keep your email-sending list up-to-date and free of bad emails
  • Cut costs on email marketing (not to waste money on useless inactive or falsified email addresses and contact lists)

Note that email verification is often interchangeable with “email address verification.” This is another term that refers to ensuring that an email address is valid, properly formatted, and capable of receiving emails. Honestly, I don’t recommend using these two interchangeably for your clarity’s sake, or your own sanity, whichever you prefer.

Email verification vs email validation

As there are countless different explanations for email verification vs validation, I think it’s time we get to the bottom of this once and for all.

Put simply, verification is a more complex procedure than email validation as it involves both the frontend and the backend. 

Whereas, validation is only typically done at the frontend as it checks email format, detects and prevents typos (i.e. instead of invalid email addresses being entered into any of your forms.

For easier understanding, let’s imagine the two processes as mailmen. 📫

Email validation would be a mailman who, before he sets out, checks the address format on each letter, confirming street names and house numbers are correct. He also makes sure that certain addresses (like those for a university’s “edu” domain) accept specific deliveries.

Now, think of email verification as a mailman who not only checks the address format but also goes to each house to see if someone is there to receive the letter (what a mailman, right?).

Why must you verify emails?

One of the main reasons you must verify emails is because it’s likely that your emails may end up nowhere without verification. Moreover, verification boosts inbox placement and prevents issues such as email bounces.

The thing is that many hard bounces impair your sender’s reputation. The poor reputation, in turn, drops your deliverability, which, ultimately, decreases your opens, clicks, and conversions. If you regularly send emails to undeliverable addresses, your email campaigns will end up in the spam folder. 

Email marketing campaign performance depends on the accuracy of your email list, and, of course, your suppression lists.

On top of that, Google and Yahoo have released new deliverability updates for 2024, which consist of new rules for bulk email senders. 

The updates aim to increase email security, reduce spam, and improve overall user experience and email deliverability.

See the table for more information:

How to verify emails?

As previously mentioned, email verification includes both frontend and backend. Let’s go over the whole process so you can have a clearer picture.

Frontend implementation

  • User input – Develop an interface on your website or application where the user can enter their email address. This is typically a part of registration or subscription forms.
  • Basic validation – Implement client-side validation to check for the presence of the ‘@’ symbol, a domain, and the absence of invalid characters.

Backend implementation

  • Generate activation code or link – Your backend system needs to generate a unique code or link whenever a user submits their email.
  • Send email – Use an email sending service (e.g., SMTP email servers or third-party services like Mailtrap Email Sending) to send an email with the activation code or link to the user’s email address.
  • Activation link or code – Once the user gets the verification email, they need to either follow the link or enter the code you provide them with on your website/app.
  • Database update – After the user has verified their email address, their status is updated in the database.

Email verification tools

Among some marketers and communities, email validation tools are, as you can see, called “email verification tools.” They do the validation part in the email verification process.

Jenny, our expert on email infrastructure has tested a plethora of these email verification services, analyzed web feedback, and selected the top five tools based on the following criteria:

  • Domain name / MX record check
  • Single email verification
  • Bulk email verification
  • Syntax check
  • Mail server validation
  • Email verification API
  • Disposable email address detection
  • GDPR compliance
  • Integrations
  • Pricing
  • Solid reviews

Here is the list of winners:

  1. NeverBounce
  2. Emailable
  3. Hunter
  4. Bouncer
  5. ZeroBounce

But you should keep in mind that top-notch email verifiers are not free. You pay for and receive a set of techniques in a package, such as:

  • Syntax verification
  • Email address deduplication
  • Spam trap identification and removal
  • Bounce detection
  • Toxic domain identification
  • MTA validation

Lastly, if you’re looking for a free email checker to see whether a couple of newly added subscribers are using valid email addresses, you can simply make a free account at one of the platforms we listed above and use their free trials.

Email verification best practices

After consulting Yaroslav, our email deliverability specialist,I decided to list some of the best verification practices to help you keep your list of emails as clean as possible. Namely, you should:

  • Integrate real-time API – You can integrate most of the tools I listed above into your workflow or website, which, through syntax check, SMTP and DNS check, ensures you gather accurate information whenever you get a new customer. API integration can be quite useful for demo request forms, free trial signups, gated content forms, and other registration pages. You should also check out Mailtrap email API, which ensures your messages will reach recipients’ inboxes in no time.
  • Include security measures – To enhance the safety and integrity of your email verification process, and protect both your and the user’s data, you should implement measures such as expiration times for activations links. On top of that, you should use secure transmission protocols, like the ones I mentioned earlier.
  • Provide clear messages and feedback – Provide clear messages and feedback throughout the process, so that users can complete it more easily and have a better experience.

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Ivan Djuric

Technical Content Writer, Mailtrap

As a Technical Content Writer with 5 years of experience, I specialize in covering email-related topics, collaborating closely with software engineers and email marketers. My goal is to provide you with insights on email sending and testing.
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