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Cleaning inactive email addresses from the database

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Companies with Yahoo email addresses in their marketing database may have a little list-cleaning to do. As of Aug. 15, Yahoo will recycle inactive email accounts, making addresses that haven't been used for more than a year available for the taking. The problem for marketers? Their emails could be delivered to someone who wasn't the intended recipient. "Regardless of whether you are b-to-b or b-to-c, it's going to affect you," said Brad van der Woerd, director of deliverability at Yesmail. Email marketers may already be getting "hard bounces" from inactive Yahoo addresses. Those email addresses should be removed from active lists, van der Woerd said. Marketers should also check lists that are used infrequently or that are archived to see if they contain Yahoo addresses that may be inactive. "Email to them and remove any addresses that bounce back as inactive," he said. In addition to practicing simple list hygiene, marketers should also review the unsubscribe links and buttons in their emails. Yahoo has stated that it will attempt to unsubscribe the accounts that it plans to recycle from any commercial emails. As a result, it's important to make unsubscribing easy, van der Woerd said. The Yahoo move also calls attention to another best practice for b-to-b marketers: Make a concerted effort to get a subscriber's business email address. This can be very challenging, but not impossible, van der Woerd said. "It really comes down to the expectations a subscriber has and the preferences they have when they first sign up," he said. For instance, it may be easier to get a work email address if you offer a once-a-week or once-a-month frequency, and guarantee that you will never sell or rent any personal information, he said. "Just receiving a Monday email versus mailing three to five times a week could definitely make a difference." Van der Woerd said marketers that have been following best practices shouldn't have that much trouble in the end, but those companies that fail to get the recycled emails out of their databases face the possibility of higher levels of spam complaints and bounces, which can harm deliverability over time.

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