Q&A | Email formatting

Hello EmailKarma,

Q: How you feel about email addresses formatted like this: www.alias@isp.com.
I don’t think they should be collected/mailed to because I’ve seen too many of them bounce over the years.

Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

A: Address formatting is a very common issue with regards to data collection, some times being too strict hinders people converting and subscribing to your email program, other times forms are not strict enough and can be maliciously scripted and fed bad data.

Here are some tips to consider when reviewing address formatting:

  1. AOL address must meet these criteria; 3 to 16 characters, no punctuation and cannot start with a number.
  2. Hotmail, for example, only allows creation of email addresses using alphanumerics, dot (.), underscore and hyphen, and will not allow sending mail to any email address containing ! # $ % * / ? | ^ { } ` ~
  3. Scrubbing any and all services account is also recommended, a list can be found here; RFC 2142: Mailbox names for common services, roles and functions. ex: postmaster@, abuse@.
  4. Reviewing your list for names with the word spam, email or abuse is something to consider… Watch out for MissPamela thought, she might just want your email.
  5. The Wikipedia has an excellent explanation on the makeup and formatting of an email address

As for the validity of www.alias@isp.com, 99 times out of 100 these will fail and bounce… Scrubbing these names, and those in item 3 above, from your mailing list before sending is recommended.

Do you have a question for EmailKarma? Email them to contact or leave a comment.

Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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