An email was issued to BT Broadband customers in late April that prompted some speculation over its authenticity. It read as follows (abridged version):
We're changing the terms and conditions for accessing the email that comes with your BT Broadband – BT Yahoo! Mail.
From 17 June this year, you'll need to log in to your email account at least once every 150 days. If you don't, we'll presume you don't use your email account anymore and we'll close it. We'll delete everything that goes with it – including your emails, contacts, calendar and notes.
Thanks for choosing BT.
Managing Director, Customer Service
Well, this email is genuine and the changes are now imminent. There are probably hundreds of thousands of these accounts that are lying dormant, taking up server space and like that corner of the fridge that you dare not enter, have the potential to harbour all sorts of nasty creatures. So it makes sense that they are going to be cleaned out more regularly.
So what does this mean to you as a marketer?
Firstly, do you have btinternet.com or btopenworld.com addresses in your subscriber list? If you’re a marketer based in the UK then you almost certainly do.
Secondly, you’ll then need to think about the last time they interacted with you and think about how you’re going to handle those BT subscribers who haven’t interacted with you for the last 5 months. Perhaps you’ll want to try to reach them before the 17th June and get them to confirm that they still want to receive your emails. Of course, this type of activity should already be part of any good subscriber lifecycle / win-back program but you may need to tweak your rules to take BT’s new dormancy definition into account.
If you know you have these subscribers in your database who haven’t engaged with your mailings and you decide not to deal with them before 17th June then expect an uplift in bounces from BT domains as these addresses are retired. Make sure that your bounce processing rules are working as you expect and that you remove these addresses immediately from your list as they bounce.
These tips can also now be applied to Yahoo! addresses because they’ve also recently announced that they’ll be retiring old addresses and releasing them back into the wild. This time however, Yahoo! have a period of 12 months inactivity before retiring an address. This period is beyond what we’d normally recommend for removing inactive subscribers but if you’re not removing inactives or your sales cycle is relatively long then you should consider the impact this may have on your program.
And finally, for the big question… “Why should I care?” As my colleague Jamie described here, old addresses can be used as spam traps which mailbox providers use to identify senders with poor practices. They’ll then penalise you through increased filtering or reduced inbox placement so do the right thing, monitor your inactivity and put a plan in place to retire old data gracefully.