We’ve all seen those scam phishing emails: “If you don’t log into your AIM / Gmail / Hotmail / Facebook account by a certain date, your account will be LOST!” Hopefully, we’ve all dismissed them as the scams they are.


Well, it’s time for another one of those messages, except in this case, it is absolutely legitimate and represents a seismic shift for email marketers.

Late last week, Yahoo! quietly announced on its Tumblr blog that beginning July 15, it will be deactivating and potentially releasing usernames / accounts that have not had a login within the last twelve months. This is a very aggressive move on the part of Yahoo!, as most inbox providers don’t generally deactivate accounts until after very prolonged periods of inactivity. Yahoo! making this change represents a significant pivot in their way of doing business, and we would not be surprised to see other providers such as Gmail following suit in the future.

So, what does this mean for you as an email marketer? For one, if you have any subscribers with a yahoo.com address who have not opened or clicked an email in the past twelve months, either send them a re-engagement email before July 15, or suppress them from your list entirely. (We would recommend a re-engagement attempt anyway, given that a year of zero interaction with your emails will not be aiding your efforts in this day and age of engagement-based inbox placement.) Why such a drastic measure? When Yahoo begins deactivating accounts, there are three potential consequences, none of them particularly good:

  • If an email is deactivated and not claimed, sending to that address will cause bounce rates to increase. This will negatively impact your sender reputation at Yahoo! and potentially elsewhere. This is bad.
  • If an email is deactivated, released and re-used, sending to that address will likely result in sending email to someone who never asked to receive it, making use of the Junk / Complaint button (the Worst Button in the World) more likely. This is bad.
  • If an email account is deactivated and the address recycled into a spamtrap (note that Yahoo! has not said it will not do this; the company has only said that “certain IDs” will be available), sending to that address will cause global spam complaints. This is really bad.

Taking this necessary step of list hygiene will involve creating a segmentation of your mailing list. For example, this is very simple to do in WhatCounts Publicaster Edition:


Once you have created this segmentation, run it and export the results. If you are taking the step of removing these inactive Yahoo! subscribers from your list, go to the List Manager, select your list, and click the Import / History button. Go through the process of importing into your list as you do whenever adding new addresses, but instead of selecting “Append & Update,” select “Unsubscribe” as your import action:


Stay tuned to the WhatCounts blog, as we will continue to keep you updated on this and any other changes that affect the landscape of digital marketing.

Tim Brechlin
Inbound Marketing Manager, WhatCounts


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