Today’s Whitelist post was written by Grant Johnson, Director of Client Success at ClickMail. As the Director of Client Success, Grant helps clients become better, more strategic email marketers.

yahoo-logoWhile we always recommend to our clients that they monitor bounces and subscriber engagement, there is a new reason to pay close attention this month. On July 15, 2013, Yahoo! began the process of “recycling” email addresses that have been dormant for more than a year. Yahoo! wants to make these inactive ID’s available to “loyal” and new users. Yahoo! will be deactivating the accounts, purging any personal data, and then making at least some of these email addresses available.

According to CNN, during the 30-day deactivation period that started on July 15, Yahoo! will be sending hard bounce messages and unsubscribing the addresses from newsletters, commercial e-mail alerts and the like. From our testing of an address known to be dormant and now subject to recycling, we can confirm that Yahoo! is bouncing these addresses. We received hard bounce messages with the reason “User Unknown” and description “Address is non-existent at the domain.” We tested sending both a newsletter from an ESP and a personal message from a Gmail account. Both bounced. We did not receive any sort of unsubscribe message. If Yahoo!’s plan is to utilize their feedback loops with ESP’s to perform the unsubscribing, it didn’t happen with our test address.

What does this mean to you as an email marketer? If you haven’t been regularly purging non-responders, you may have a population of subscriber addresses that just started hard bouncing. Why is this bad? Because by definition these accounts are dormant. Effectively, you have just proved to Yahoo! that you do not perform basic list hygiene. This could hurt your sender reputation with Yahoo! Mail.

Don’t rely on bounce mail management rules to purge your list(s) of these addresses. Remove them now. Why? Because there are even worse threats on the horizon:

  1. Yahoo! plans to reactivate some of these addresses with new owners. Keep mailing the address once it has a new owner and you are now spamming and may earn complaints.
  2.  The addresses without new owners would make perfect spam traps.

What to do?

  1. Look for Yahoo! addresses that have not opened in the last 12 months. Add them to a suppression list or unsubscribe them. They are not active and not worth the risk.
  2. Monitor bounces from Yahoo! starting 7/15. Permanently remove all “User Unknown” bounces as soon as they occur.

These two steps should keep your reputation and deliverability to Yahoo! in good shape. Any questions? Contact your account manager.

Published On: July 26th, 2013Categories: Email deliverability

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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