In an effort to breathe life into Yahoo's products, the company announced it would be releasing inactive email accounts unless the current owner logs in again before July 15. After that, the identifications will be available to anyone, and will be ready to use by mid-August. Yahoo is not releasing how many emails will be up for grabs, but the number will have a great impact on anyone managing email lists.
Yahoo's new policy makes list management a MUST. This is not an "it'd be nice if," this is a "must do now."
Three Scenarios That Will Impact Your Direct Marketing Campaigns
- I sign up for your email list with my Yahoo address (which I personally use as my junk account address). I then don't check that address; instead I let it fill up, never logging into the account. A year goes by, and I haven't logged in. A new person grabs my old email address. Now, the email I signed up for will be going to them. The new user marks email address as spam.
- Email addresses are turned into Spam Traps, which also impacts deliverability. Spam Traps are email addresses—either never used (pristine traps) or retired email addresses (recycled traps)—that are used to catch spammers and those with poor emailing/list management habits.
- An individual who has the retired account doesn't realize it is in fact no longer theirs and keeps using it. This emphasizes the need for a double-opt in sign up method (preferred) or at least a welcome series of emails in which you make sure people are able to unsubscribe.
List management is crucial to any business, political campaign or nonprofit's marketing success. Any one of the above scenarios will derail the campaign your marketing team has spent time and resources to build.
Best Practices Will Drive Success
With Yahoo's release looming, now is the time to follow best practices and yes, say goodbye to inactive contacts.
The following steps should be taken now for all email addresses, not just Yahoo:
- All new addresses should be double opted-in or, at the minimum, sent a welcome series/transactional email after they sign up or take action. These emails should make it clear how and where they signed up as well as an easy to click and clear link to unsubscribe.
- It's okay to shrink your list size. Email activity is the key metric now. All addresses that do not take action (open or click an email) after six to nine months should be removed from your list. However, you should have been engaging them well before this time period, in an attempt to get them active. After six months of not opening, do you really think someone finally will?
- Watch your onboarding metrics during the August transition. Ask yourself, "Am I getting an unusually large amount of sign ups? Do I have more spam complaints?" If so, you need to dive into the metrics and if a lot of these signups are Yahoo addresses, realize you need to find a better way to catch them during the sign up process.
Marketers Will Need to Rethink Metrics and What's Important
This is the final nail in the coffin for any marketer that still manages email lists in-house. List management is critical to a campaign's success. It's the key factor that can make or break the sale of your next product, or donation needed to keep your campaign alive. For your list to be most effective, you have to be able to see the metrics-opens, clicks, bounces and complaints. If you don't, you won't know how successful your campaign could have been.
Brett Schenker is the senior deliverability manager for Salsa Labs (Salsa), a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit management software firm. At Salsa, Schenker specializes in email strategy and deliverability. Reach him at email@example.com.