Yahoo’s email recycling

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will probably know that Yahoo! recently announced it would be recycling dormant email addresses. The idea is that email addresses which are no longer in use will go to a new and loving owner.

The process, which began August 15, could have serious consequences for email marketing professionals. Read on to find out more. Warning: Yahoo’s email recycling could get you in a lot of trouble

What is happening?

Between July 15 and August 15, Yahoo! began hard bouncing emails sent to these dormant accounts back to senders. If you received a higher than usual number of bouncebacks from Yahoo! accounts, this is why. This in and of itself could have caused you problems. Many internet service providers (ISPs) will block your ability to send mail to their users if bouncebacks breach a certain ratio – usually ten per cent.

Not only that, but bouncebacks negatively affect reputation. A high number could see your emails landing in spam folders straight away.

Inadvertent spam

Hopefully, you were not badly affected by this but even then, the changes could spell trouble ahead. Email addresses on your list might now belong to a new owner and while the old owner may have opted in, the new owner has not. If one of these owners reports your email as spam, it could result in a blacklisting or worse.

It is also entirely plausible that Yahoo! may turn some of these recycled addresses into spam traps in order to fish out poor mailing practices. While Outlook and Gmail have evened the playing field, Yahoo! is still a key player when it comes to email. Get caught in one of these traps and it could ruin your relationship with one of the biggest webmail providers on the planet.

So what can be done?

If you did not do an email blast between July 15 and August 15, no harm has been done. If you did do a blast, do not panic; the good news is that you should now have a pre-formulated list of bouncebacks. Whichever camp you fall into, follow the tips below to get your list in the best possible shape moving forward.

1. Go through all bouncebacks between July 15 and August 15, checking which ones came from Yahoo! Make sure you carry this out for all Yahoo! owned addresses including, yahoo., and Get rid of these email addresses.

2. Revisit your unsubscribe instructions. While it is always important to ensure that your ‘opt-out’ instructions are findable and straightforward, it is even more important now. If a new owner does receive unsolicited email, they are much more likely to simply unsubscribe rather than complain if presented with a clear option.

3. Update your bounceback rules. It is time for a spring clean; stop clinging on to those unresponsive email addresses and set your client to delete emails that bounce first-time. This is good practice for getting your list cleaned up as quickly as possible.

4. Look for Yahoo! addresses which have not been opened in the last 12 months and send them a courtesy email asking whether they wish to remain subscribed. This will give new owners the opportunity to opt out, if they have already slipped through the net. If you want to be completely safe, it might be an idea to delete all Yahoo! users who have not opened email in the past 12 months. After all, it is highly unlikely that they are of any real value to you.

Depending on the success of this strategy, it may not be long before we see other service providers following suit. Keep an ear to ground to make sure you don’t get caught out in the future and remember that in the world of email marketing, it is always best to practice best practice.