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Heads Up: Yahoo is Recycling Inactive Email Accounts

by Lindsay Bayuk

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Yahoo! recently announced their decision to “free up” Yahoo email addresses that have been inactive for at least 12 months. As of July 15, Yahoo will begin to make all the inactive Yahoo IDs available to new users. While this is great for Yahoo users, it does throw a wrench for those in the email marketing industry like Infusionsoft among others.

UPDATE 8/7/13:
After much research, here is what our team has concluded regarding our Yahoo email status update. Thank you again for your feedback when we initially announced this update.

It turns out that the logic behind identifying and segmenting inactivity of an email address across all accounts across the Infusionsoft network is quite complex and did not execute correctly. We incorrectly identified these contacts, and thanks to your input, we promptly recommended that you don’t take any action on these contacts — and we’re sorry for any additional inconvenience for those affected.

It’s relevant to point out that we did not delete or change the email status of your contacts. Instead, we applied a tag and added a saved search to your accounts. We have determined that the contacts identified in this tag and search to be inaccurate. In the future we will remove these tags, but at this time, they will remain.

That said, you are welcome to remove this tag and saved search without having any impact on your application. In light of the intent and instructions of this post, we recommend that you monitor the “hard bounces” from any Yahoo!-operated domains like “yahoo.com” and “ymail.com” and reach out to these contacts to update their email address as desired. We have edited the instructions in this blog post below to show you how to do this easily.

Once again, we’re sorry for introducing any concerns about this matter. We have learned many lessons and are working to improve our internal system capabilities to better support these needs. You can continue to use your sales and marketing software as you always have and rest assured that invalid (and soon to be invalid) email addresses will naturally work themselves out over the next several weeks.

If you have any questions about this, please feel welcome to contact our support team at 1-866-800-0004.

Not to worry, Yahoo is not just flipping a switch. Between July 15 and August 15, Yahoo is launching a deactivation period for these inactive email addresses. During the 30-day deactivation period, Yahoo is taking the following actions to safely and securely close these accounts, in a statement made to Wired:

  • Send bounce back emails alerting senders that the deactivated account no longer exists
  • Unsubscribe these accounts from commercial emails such as newsletters and email alerts, among others
  • After deactivation, send notification for these potentially recycled accounts to merchants, e-commerce sites, financial institutions, social networks, email providers and other online properties

How will this affect me?

We know that a lot of Infusionsoft customers have contacts with Yahoo email addresses. If your email lists contain inactive email addresses, this recent announcement by Yahoo may affect your email performance to some of your contacts. Over the next few weeks, you may notice higher than usual opt-outs and bounces. This is a result of Yahoo’s deactivation process.

After August 15, if you are still sending emails to inactive accounts, you may receive a notification from Yahoo.

A big concern with this change is the potential for spam complaints. New users may pick up these “recycled” Yahoo email addresses. As an example, let’s say that two years ago Bob Smith signed up for your newsletter using bob@yahoo.com. Bob Smith hasn’t touched his Yahoo account in two years and as such Yahoo is going to deactivate it. Now, Bob Jones snags bob@yahoo.com, but never subscribed to your newsletter. Bob Jones may receive your newsletter and mark it as spam.

What do I need to do?

Largely, you do not need to take any additional action. However, understand that your bounce rates to Yahoo-operated domains may increase. We recommend that customers monitor the hard bounces detected from “yahoo.com” and “ymail.com” domains within the Email Status Search. To do this, click “Reports” under the Marketing menu located at the top of the screen. For more information on how this report works, read this help article.

We will not automatically opt them out on August 15. The current bounce detection mechanisms we have in place will continue to work as designed. To better support this, we have added a ‘list-unsubscribe’ header to emails to ensure that unsubscribe requests sent by Yahoo will be honored quickly.

This announcement by Yahoo is a good reminder to maintain an active list. It is best practice to regularly remove old, unresponsive contacts. Everyone loves a good, clean email list — especially your subscribers.

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