Have you experienced an unusual number of Yahoo addresses hard bouncing since the beginning of March? You’re not alone. Thousands of marketers worldwide are seeing a bounce rate increase due to Yahoo’s clean-up process. Dormant accounts, that haven’t been accessed in more than 12 months, are being disabled, deleted, and released to the public to claim.
How does that affect you as an email marketer?
What are the steps you need to take to ensure your email deliverability?
There’s no easy-breezy solution to this. However, there are some things you can do to stay on top of your email hygiene.
But first, let’s take a look at Yahoo’s effort to reestablish their platform as a clean, safe, and efficient email service provider.
The process actually started in June 2013, when Jay Rossiter, then Senior Vice President of the company, wrote a blog postexplaining their initiative.
Yahoo was going to delete all dormant email accounts – “dormant” meaning accounts that hadn’t been accessed in more than a year. Then, 30 days after deletion, the email service provider was going to recycle those IDs and make them available again. Rossiter tried to add a PR touch to the whole story: he made it sound exciting by saying that people could now claim the ID “they’ve always wanted.”
Massive bounces for email marketers
While that may be exciting for some, the implications are far more profound, for both senders and recipients. At the beginning of March 2019, Yahoo has intensified their clean-up efforts by disabling a high number of dormant accounts. The result? Massive Yahoo bounces for email marketers, now struggling to maintain their email hygiene and get their emails in the inbox.
What can you do if Yahoo’s measures are effecting your email marketing?
Keep your list clean with an email verifier
Keeping a safe, healthy email list is the foundation of email marketing. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your list pruned, hire an email verifier. It’s the most effective method to detect accounts that will cause your emails to bounce. Also, an email verifier will remove spam traps, role based, or temporary addresses – none of these add any value to your email marketing.
You can add an extra layer of defense on your signup forms by installing an email verification API to verify emails in real time. The API prevents bad signups and helps you keep your list clean longer.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it’s VERY challenging for both email verification services and Email Service Providers to validate accounts that are still in the “disabled” state. In that stage, the email account has been disabled due to inactivity, but if the owner logs back in, Yahoo would reactivate that account. “It’s very difficult for us to validate in that state, because the mailbox does actually exist, but it’s no longer accepting mail until they log back in,” explains ZeroBounce Operations Manager Brian Minick.
Remove unengaged subscribers
This is a common email deliverability best practice, as it helps preserve your sender reputation in the long run. Check your email marketing reports periodically to get feedback on your inactive subscribers. If they haven’t engaged with any of your emails in the past 90 to 180 days – with 90 being the ideal value – remove them from your list. Otherwise, some of them could start to bounce.
Your engagement rate is one of the metrics that determine your sender reputation. It’s not worth the risk of keeping dormant addresses in your list – any kind of dormant contacts, not just Yahoo. You’re going to lose a few subscribers, indeed, but they aren’t interacting with your content anyway, so is it really a loss?
Keep an eye on your spam complaints
Once Yahoo closes down an email account, the next step is to recycle that account and make it available for anyone to claim. How will this impact your email marketing.
Let’s say your subscriber email@example.com has decided to switch to a different email service provider. She hasn’t deleted her Yahoo account, but she hasn’t logged in either in more than a year. Yahoo disables, and then deletes, her account.
A little while later, another Anna Smith is happy to discover firstname.lastname@example.org is available. She creates an account and… she starts getting emails from you. What do you think she’s going to do, especially if she’s never been exposed to your brand? Most likely, before unsubscribing, she’s going to mark you as spam.
As you know, being labeled as spam is not a good way to maintain your reputation. It raises a red flag with Internet and Email Service Providers, who are going to start seeing you as an illegitimate sender. As a result, your emails will have a hard time making it to the inbox.
So what can you do to protect yourself against spam complaints?
Once you get notified, you can go ahead and remove abuse emails manually from your list. If you’re looking for a safer and faster solution, a good email verifier will help you again. An advanced system will detect known email complainers before they even complain, by identifying users who have a history of marking emails as spam.
Handling Yahoo bounces right now requires you to pay constant attention on your reports. Read your bounce codes carefully, keep an eye on your engagement rates, and remove inactive subscribers without regret.