How old is your email address?

Most people I talk to these days have several email addresses – one for work, one for home, one for the kids, etc. Being in the email business, I have lots of addressees – but then again, I’m kind of weird like that.

Another common email address that people sometimes have is a ”spam” address, or one that they use to get all of their unsolicited email. The logic is that if they are worried about the potential email they are going to receive, they can simply have a message sent to an address:

  • For which they don’t care about what gets delivered.
  • That they most likely won’t check very often.

This creates a number of scenarios for senders:

  1. As this is a ”throw-away” account, there is a good possibility that a sender’s email may actually not be read for weeks, months, or at all.
  2. The user may, after time, abandon that email address, and not elect to inform anyone who has been sending messages there.
  3. With abandoned emails, ISPs will temporarily deactivate an account that has had no activity for a period of months. If the user does not reactivate it, the ISP will eventually turn that address into a ”spam trap” (which I will discuss in my next blog). Thus, not only are a sender’s messages not being read; the messages are also being fed directly into an ISP’s spam filter, affecting reputation and deliverability.

So what is a sender to do about removing old and/or inactive accounts? An argument could be made that an old contact potentially still interested in receiving email would be removed, resulting in lost business. But then there’s the worry of unread messages and spam traps. I would recommend one or more of the following:

  1. Track opens and clicks: Tracking who is actually opening and reading your messages will help give you visibility into who is actually interested in your messages.
  2. Send a re-engagement campaign: A solution that is very effective in weeding out inactive accounts is to send a re-engagement or re-opt-in campaign. Once or twice a year, identify all the people who have never opened or clicked on your email message. Send them a message asking them to reconfirm their interest in receiving your emails. This is usually done by a simple link to click. You can also offer them an incentive (coupon, discount, gift, etc.) to reconfirm their email address. Also inform them that by not clicking the link within a certain number of days, they will be automatically be removed from your list. You can send several ”last chance” re-engagement campaigns before considering the user inactive. Even after sending a re-engagement campaign, the re-opt-in rate may only be 30%; however, it is an effective way of cleaning your lists of inactive contacts.
  3. Remove inactive accounts: If the contact to who you are sending email has not opened or clicked your message, chances are that either the user is not interested in your email, or that the email address is inactive and/or a spam trap. You will not gain any new business with these types of accounts. I would recommend removing all contacts that haven’t had any activity within six months.

The bottom line is that you want to be sending email to people who really want it. It doesn’t make sense to keep sending email to contacts who don’t want it, or are not interested, or who are not even ”there” anymore. Taking these addresses off your lists will not only make your email-sending more efficient, but will help to keep you from potentially sending to invalid and spam trap email addresses, which will ultimately affect your deliverability.

Thanks,

Jaren Angerbauer
Director of Deliverability
mobileStorm

Drink Responsibly, Drive Responsibly, Email Responsibly

 

3 Responses

  1. Vic Berggren says:

    I've got one email that I've been using for 11 years now. It's one that I make web etailers earn before I give that email address out now.

    Great topic Jaren!

  2. Nancy Arter says:

    Great advice! After all, why email someone who ain't gonna read it — much less respond. I think these three points are a slam dunk for anyone who does a lot of email marketing campaigns. Thanks Jaren!

  3. Jaren Angerbauer says:

    If an email gets delivered to the Inbox of an active email account, even though it is not read, there is no impact on reputation from the ISP's standpoint. If for some reason that mailbox becomes stale or inactive, and unread messages continue to be sent, then the ISP will start to scrutinize the senders sending these messages. Let me know if that answers your question. Thanks.

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