Why Mailing to Those Old Email Addresses is a Bad Idea

Posted by Ashley Parsons 

Time and time again I hear marketers reluctant to suppress old and/or inactive segments from their subscriber file. While recovering one-time purchasers or openers from an old segment may sound like a good idea, doing so without meaningful data to drive your decisions can be disastrous.

I recently ran into a situation where a sender was switching mailing systems. They believed, prior to the migration, their bounce processing was not sophisticated enough to remove selective hard bounces. The fear was that valid subscribers had been suppressed along with unknown users and malformed addresses. Their solution was to send a one-time mailing to determine which addresses did not get rejected and then add them back into their regular mail stream. Understandably, it is hard for a marketer to let go of a large file with potentially valuable email addresses sprinkled throughout. However, without the proper email intelligence and metrics, mailing into an aged portion of your file that you haven’t communicated with in months (or years) is very high risk and can seriously damage your reputation and deliverability. If you are looking to mail blindly into a file without any behavioral data or strategy, expect to run up against the following:

  • Unknown Users– These are email addresses that are no longer active or malformed. To maintain a healthy list full of valid and deliverable email addresses, it is crucial that your bounce processing rules are set up to remove unknown users after the first time they bounce.
  • Spam Traps– Keeping a close eye on the activity of your subscribers will help keep spam traps off of your file. Without any engagement data (opens, clicks, purchases, etc.), an inactive subscriber that you continue to mail to can turn into a spam trap given enough time. Just because your message is delivered, doesn’t necessarily mean a legitimate customer has received it.
  • Complaints– If it has been a very long time since your subscribers last received one of your messages, they will likely complain when they hear from you out of the blue. Complaint rates are a key driver in reputation, so it is important that you properly manage the cadence of your messages. Mailing too frequently or infrequently can work against you.
  • Blacklists– Last but not least! If you are sending to an email file full of question marks, don’t be surprised if your IPs or domains get blacklisted. This type of behavior can have a significant impact on inbox placement rates, which in turn hurts your bottom line

So remember, without the proper data, a mailing sent solely to salvage old names is going to do you more damage than it’s worth. If you have enough insight and metrics, properly managing the life cycle of a subscriber and incorporating an ongoing win-back strategy to keep your list healthy is within reach!





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