ExactTarget, a salesforce.com company, recently introduced the HubExchange, an app store for its cross-channel marketing platform. Several HubExchange apps were introduced last week, and I attended a demo for one such app,BriteVerify.
Before this HubExchange integration, DEG had utilized BriteVerify’s standalone application for several clients (we’ve had great experiences with other, similar tools, too), so I wanted to share our insights.
Valid and Invalid Email Addresses
BriteVerify is a tool for validating email addresses before you send to them, which sounds great. But why, should you care if an email address is valid or invalid before you send to it?
The response is simple: Deliverability.
When you send emails to receivers (think email domains like DEGdigital.com or gmail.com), many of the receivers will monitor if your company (based largely on your sending IP address) continually sends to nonexistent email addresses. If you habitually send to nonexistent email addresses, some receivers will begin to throttle, block your emails, and/or send them to a junk or spam folder. So you can see why validating addresses is a best practice.
Many receivers try to help you understand that you are sending to a nonexistent email address at their domain and will send a message back to you informing of this. We call these types of messages hard bounces. If you utilize an email sending software like ExactTarget or Pardot, these marketing tools will typically handle hard bounces and eventually won’t allow you to send to these bad email addresses any longer.
It’s great to have help with hard bounces from your email sending software, but their help is post facto. You had to send an email to learn if an email address was invalid. Wouldn’t you rather be proactive and never send to a bad email address in the first place? That way you avoid running afoul of those receivers in the first place. Yes! Enter BriteVerify.
If you use ExactTarget, you can now download BriteVerify’s HubExchange app. If you utilize a different email service provider, you have the BriteVerify API available to you directly from the company’s website or on GitHub.
Regardless of whether you use BriteVerify through ExactTarget or as a standalone service, your first step is to import a file. BriteVerify awesomely offers a plethora of sources for importing: your computer, WebDAV, URL, Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox.
Once the file has been imported and processed, you can review and export a report of the email status results (invalid, valid, unknown, and accept all). Here’s how BriteVerify describes their four email statuses:
- Valid – the email address exists at this domain
- Invalid – the email address does not exist at this domain
- Unknown – BriteVerify could not verify the email address was valid or invalid, usually caused by slow domain responses
- Accept All – a domain accepts all email addresses as valid, even if an email address is not.
If you export the subscribers from BriteVerify, you can view the email statues for each individual email address, as well as two additional pieces of information:
- Disposable – an email address that is disposable or temporary
- Role Address – an email address likely assigned to roles not an individual (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you utilize the ExactTarget HubExchange app, valid, unknown, and accept email address will be pushed to a new List. Invalid email addresses will not be imported into ExactTarget. ExactTarget users can also export the report out of BriteVerify.
ExactTarget HubExchange App
At the time of this blog post, BriteVerify’s ExactTarget HubExchange App does not support the following scenarios:
- Pull data from an ExactTarget List into BriteVerify and back to ExactTarget
- Pull data from an ExactTarget Data Extension into BriteVerify and back to ExactTarget
- Push data from BriteVerify into an ExactTarget Data Extension
- Doesn’t work with required Profile/Preference Attributes (other than email address and subscriber key)
- Automation Studio (importing and exporting)
BriteVerify seems eager to add these as future functionality.
Separate from the ExactTarget HubExchange app, BriteVerify also offers theability to add code to an existing web form, mobile application, CRM, or POS to verify in real time if an email address is valid or invalid.
With this option, you can verify valid and invalid email addresses at point of collection in real time, thus, inducing the potential subscriber to provide a correct email address. This would be more proactive than collecting email addresses and then running them through BriteVerify.
To see this live, BriteVerify has a dummy form.
What to make of BriteVerify
If you have an old/questionable file, are new to an email service provider (like ExactTarget or Pardot), have been sending through an internal system, or have been sending through a less reputable email service provider, I would strongly recommend running your file through BriteVerify.
If you are an ExactTarget client who stores subscriber data in Lists (as opposed to Data Extension) and regularly imports new files, I would similarly recommend the ExactTarget HubExchange app.
And for any company that collects email addresses from a web form, mobile application, CRM, or POS, adding BriteVerify’s code to this process makes a lot of sense and will save you from some potential headaches down the road.