Additional Details About Yahoo! Inactive Account Release

As we told you a couple of weeks ago, Yahoo! is in the process of releasing  user IDs that haven’t been accessed in over 12 months and making those user IDs available for someone else to register. Additionally, Yahoo! announced a policy that user IDs will be released after 12 months of inactivity moving forward, so Yahoo! users who don't log into their accounts at least once every 12 months will lose their user ID. Users must log in by July 15th to retain their user IDs.

Return Path has been working closely with Yahoo! to ensure that we understand how this is working and what our clients need to do to reduce any negative impact from this change. First, I want to tell you a little bit more about how this is working and then provide you with some recommendations that our team internally has put together to help you minimize impact to your mail programs.

The Plan

Here are some facts about how Yahoo! will execute their plan:

  • Any Yahoo! user ID that hasn’t logged in within 12 months may be released and reassigned.
  • All Yahoo!-owned domains worldwide are impacted (yahoo.com, yahoo.xx, yahoo.xx.yy, etc.). Domains that Yahoo! hosts mail for, but does not own, are not impacted (att.net, rogers.com, etc.).
  • Yahoo! will likely attempt to unsubscribe the inactive accounts from the mail they're receiving.

Recommendations for Senders

Isolate Inactive Yahoo! Addresses

The first step is to identify addresses that may fall into Yahoo!’s established inactive timeframe.  To be safe, any Yahoo! address without open or click activity in the last 12 months should be identified and isolated.  Note: Many senders may track purchase behavior or website activity when evaluating engagement metrics.  Unfortunately, Yahoo! is not privy to this information and is only concerned with date of last login.  It would be best to evaluate ALL subscribers (even purchasers) that have not opened and clicked on an email in 12 months. 

Proactive Outreach

Once potentially impacted addresses have been identified, consider sending a separate correspondence to these subscribers notifying them of the change and the desire for them to either 1) update their email address to a current address or 2) login to their Yahoo! account to continue receiving email.  A splash page on the website or at the point of login may help communicate the urgency.  Prominently feature your preference center and encourage subscribers to update their settings. If you don’t have the address update functionality in place, you may want to consider adding it to proactively manage the situation long term.

Suppress Addresses Before They Are Bounced

A high number of unknown users is indicative of spam and can lead to delivery issues, so we highly recommend that you suppress inactive addresses before Yahoo! begins the recycling process. It is a best practice to suppress inactive addresses after a period of unresponsiveness.  Implement a win-back strategy to encourage Yahoo! logins or suppress outright. 

Implement List Unsubscribe Header

Implement the List Unsubscribe Header to ensure if Yahoo! attempts to unsubscribe an address the request is received.  Yahoo! has not indicated if they will support the mailto or the web based http version.  To be safe, consider implementing both options.

Review Existing Email Strategies

With these new standards, reassess existing email strategies including retention programs, win-back campaigns as well as requirements for transactional emails.  Determine if any email strategies expose Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as password reset requests.  If there are mailstreams which need to be excluded from the above suppression recommendations, consider isolating the campaigns to a dedicated IP and dedicated subdomain.

Analyze Yahoo! Bounce Codes

Monitor, track, and measure the feedback to ensure all bounces are being properly suppressed.  Keep an eye on unknown user rates to determine impact the sending reputation.

Examples (standard Yahoo! unknown user bounce codes):

554 5.0.0: This user doesn't have a Yahoo!.com account

554 5.0.0: Sorry your message to _____ cannot be delivered. This account has been disabled or discontinued

Future Subscriptions

For any address affected, allow addresses to re-subscribe to the mail program with the new owner but ensure creation of a new customer record.

Security Precautions

In addition to taking action to protect your mail program, you may want to consider taking action to protect users who log into your website. Make use of identity verification options such as security questions to ensure that the new owners of these user IDs are not able to access the former owner’s accounts and credentials.

Return Path will continue to work closely with Yahoo! throughout this process to ensure that our clients are well informed of how changes will impact them.

Should you have any questions around this topic, please direct them to EIG-yahoo at returnpath.com ; we will compile the questions and publish a Q&A shortly.