Email List Hygiene

Are Yahoo’s Disposable Email Addresses [Spam] Trapping You?

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When looking to start any relationship, it’s important to present an enticing first impression. Whether it’s dressing in your best clothes for a first date or putting the finishing touches on a portfolio for an interview, making sure  you are clearly communicating intention and value sets the perfect stage for a relationship of any kind.

The same is true of the email ecosphere. Without providing a new or potential subscriber with the right expectations or promise of long-lasting value, subscribers might be tempted to give senders secondary email addresses, or as Yahoo has labeled them, “disposable addresses.” This concept isn’t new, Yahoo’s disposable addresses have only been around for a few years, so hopefully this blog can be a good resource to learn what exactly are secondary and disposable email addresses, how they can hurt your reputation, and how to avoid attracting those addresses in the first place.

Secondary addresses are email addresses created by an email user, but seldom checked. These are often used to sign up for email programs offering a valuable introductory offer without evidence of long-term value from the email program. For example, think of a brand offering a “50% off your first purchase” promotion. A person may be shopping for only one item but they want the discount code, so they provide a secondary address to receive the discount.

Yahoo disposable addresses make creating a secondary address easy. They simply base it off your primary address. For example, if my primary email address is [email protected], I could create a disposable email address using to receive my REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Back Country emails.

For a user, the value of a disposable address can be pretty clear. But for a sender, these addresses pose quite a challenging conundrum. Why? Lots of them on your lists can damage your sender reputation quite a bit.

Secondary email addresses are notorious for having almost no engagement with a sender’s email program. Not only will you see that reflected in your KPI reports, Everest platform, or your email service provider reports, but mailbox providers (MBPs) will take notice, too. Low engagement is a common negative engagement signal indicating people do not want to read your mail, so MBPs react to this by putting it where things don’t get read…the spam folder.

Alternatively, secondary addresses can be converted to unknown users quite easily (spam trap alert!). This is especially true for disposable addresses from Yahoo. The good news is, disposable addresses are shown in the Yahoo platform so it’s easier to flag which are potentially dangerous to your reputation, but they can also be deleted just as easily as they are created. Most secondary addresses, if not logged into for a long time (anywhere between six months and two years) become decommissioned by the MBP and turned into unknown users. Hard bounces and spam trap hits are big red flag, so even if a user could have engages on Monday, they could delete their address on Tuesday and your subsequent email to the address bounces. Multiply this by 1,000, and you can see how this becomes dangerous quickly.

Rather than trying to parse out and delete disposable addresses with a dedicated effort, the best solution is to re-evaluate your address acquisition process. From my years of experience and exposure to many kinds of email senders, there are two main things to focus on:

  1. Setting clear expectations with potential subscribers, and;
  2. Focusing on an ongoing relationship rather than the instantaneous reward they would get for signing up.

If a commercial sender plans on sending three emails per day with different promotions or editorial content, communicate this at sign-up. If the plan is to send a monthly digest newsletter, let them know right off the bat. Set expectations and provide insight into upcoming promos or benefits.

If your brand has a well-connected network or community, champion it! Maybe your potential subscriber is looking for a digital community to be a part of without needing Zoom. On the other hand, if you are letting people know they are going to be getting deals and sales before anyone else, that allure of being the first to get access to offers could be a great way of attracting long lasting engagement and loyalty. Find out what works for your brand and your recipients, and lean in.

High value introduction offers can work for many brands, but also make sure you are attracting the right kinds of subscribers. These are recipients looking to be loyal to your brand for the long haul. Your brand will be better off taking the time to flesh out how to present lasting value from the start, and watching those engagement rates stay steady (and grow!) as the relationship endures.