Back on June 12, Yahoo made an announcement on their Tumblr page saying that if you haven’t been able to get the Yahoo Mail ID you’ve wanted, you may soon be able to get it!
This is because starting on July 15, they will begin to close accounts and then shortly afterwards release them back into the wild for anyone new to register.
The current plan calls for accounts that have not been access for 12 months to be closed on July 15. Then, in the middle of August, that address (or Yahoo ID) can be registered by someone else.
For Yahoo users, this means if you haven’t logged into your account in a while, you should do so quickly otherwise it might be gone…. along with anything associated to that account.
For email marketers, especially as this cut off date looms closer, this could have a potential impact on your deliverability.
Starting on July 15, you may notice an increase in hard bounces to @yahoo that were shut down as a result of this purge that Yahoo is hoping will help revitalize it’s email platform.
Increased bounces can hurt your deliverability as obviously the goal is to keep bounces as low as possible. A worse potential side effect is that an account is claimed by someone new (who has not opted in with you) and then you send them an email because you don’t realize that the account belongs to someone new.
While on the surface this sounds like it could be a scary thing for email marketers (..quick everyone panic!), Yahoo is saying the situation is not so dire or drastic, and here’s why….
According to existing Yahoo Mail policies, if an account has not been logged into for 6 consecutive months, it is deactivated already. So, even though this “July 15″ date sounds like a big cut off, if you’ve been emailing inactive Yahoo accounts (shame on you), you would have noticed hard bounces showing up in your reports anyway. Assuming you are properly clearing your bounces (Note: This is done automatically for Elite Email customers when there is a hard bounce) your list should already be clean of any addresses caught in this big upcoming purge.
The other thing Yahoo has made public is that only 7% of the Yahoo IDs being retired are tied to an email account. To put this in context, many people have registered a Yahoo ID for something like Y! Messenger or (my personal favorite) Yahoo Fantasy Sports. These ID’s will be closed and made available again, but since there was never an active email account, it shouldn’t be on anyone’s mailing list and will therefore have no impact on email marketers.
All email marketers should take a close look at their reports on and after July 15 to see if there is any impact from this Yahoo action. And, if you see a spike in bounces, it might very well be related to this.
That being said, if you are frequently sending out emails, I really do not anticipate this will be a problem. Any inactive accounts already would have been removed.
The only people who might get caught in a situation where this does have a big impact are those that send emails really infrequently. For instance, if you only send out emails in December during the holidays and ignore the rest of the year (…not sure why you’d do that?!?!) then it’s possible you would have missed the chance to catch inactive Yahoo accounts already. So, you need to be extra careful because when you go to send your next mailing in December, (A) You might have increased hard bounces & (B) You run the risk of sending spam to someone who has claimed a previously inactive email account. With that in mind, I would definitely recommend sending an email sooner rather than later so you can capture the reports before Yahoo releases these ID’s back into the wild.
Yahoo has said that they will attempt (probably through the list-unsubscribe header) to unsubscribe from mailing lists during the transition period when the account is closed and before it can be registered again.
One other thing worth mentioning related to Yahoo’s actions is that there has been some criticism that this could pose a security risk. If on July 1 an account belonged to Person A, that same account on September 1 might belong to Person B. So, any emails such as a statement, invoice, password reminder, etc. might go the the wrong person. Obviously we’d all like to think that someone would have updated their profile with any important company/vendor that is sending them emails, but there’s also a chance something slips through the cracks. Yahoo has stated that it has put in place safeguards to prevent this, but there remains some chatter over the security concern.