Email List Hygiene

Google’s Inactive Account Policy Update: What Marketers Should Know

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The long-awaited Google purge day is here!

By now, you’ve likely heard the announcement Google made about updating their inactive account policy.   

But in case you haven’t, here’s the rundown.

Starting on December 1st, the new policy aims to delete accounts that have not been used or logged into in the last two years. If you have a Google account that falls under this new policy and you have a recovery email address associated with that account, Google will notify you of their intent to delete the unused account. 

There are some exceptions to the policy, including an account that has a gift card with a monetary balance or an account that has a published application, for example, one that hosts an app on the Google Play store. (Other exceptions to this policy are available here.)

Notifications have been arriving for several months, but the actual deletion begins today. The official announcement from Google can be found here.

Unfortunately, this adds a new complication right at the heart of the busy holiday season for marketers. Let’s dive into the new policy and how smart senders can adapt.

(For those who would rather watch a video, check out this quick clip from our recent episode of Inbox Insiders, which summarizes the changes.)

Why is Google doing this?  

Mainly as a security measure.  

Inactive email addresses pose a security risk for the address owner. Since older addresses are less likely to have up-to-date security measures like two-step verification in place, they’re more likely to be targeted by phishers and spoofers.  

These older addresses also pose a security risk for Google, since the organization has to maintain your personal files and any data associated with them.  

It makes sense.  

What should marketers do next?  

First of all, don’t panic. There are a few steps senders can take now to mitigate the impact of the new policy.

  • Avoid sending to these email addresses moving forward, since they will begin to hard bounce and may be turned into recycled spam traps. As part of your regular checks and balances, pay attention to subscribers who are not engaging with your email.  
  • For most B2C/D2C marketers, your email outreach should stop after six months of no engagement. In other words, if you haven’t had any indicators that the person is reading, clicking, forwarding, or even replying to your email program, it’s time to stop sending to them. It might be a tough sell to your leadership team, but quality over quantity is a best practice.
  • Some industries may need to go further back in time—car dealerships or high-end travel experiences, for example.  
  • For those that do, consider sending a re-permission or re-engagement campaign to ensure subscribers are still interested in receiving communications from your brand.  
  • Take cues from purchases, cart abandon/browse, or even in-store or website visits to understand if someone is still loyal to your brand and use that to fuel your sending decisions.  

Make list hygiene an end-of-year priority 

As we approach the end of the year and early 2024, it will be imperative to perform list hygiene on your less active subscribers. Maintaining a clean email list is essential to good deliverability, and continuing to mail to unengaged subscribers will likely result in spam trap hits and higher hard bounce rates.   

From what we’ve learned, there won’t be a special bounce message to denote that the subscriber hasn’t been active; the bounce message will be a typical unknown user message like what we see with any nonexistent account.  

How Validity can help  

Some marketers will take a hands-off approach, allowing the emails to just bounce and trusting their systems to handle it. However, that can be detrimental to deliverability and consequently, email ROI.  

Take a more proactive approach by using tools like Validity BriteVerify to help identify and remove inactive and unknown users.

BriteVerify is the industry’s longest-standing contact verification solution. It provides secure, scalable validation so senders can build and maintain a clean database, reach more people, and communicate more effectively.

Taking the initiative to clean your list sends a positive message to the mailbox providers that you care about your subscribers and your email program’s health. After all, avoiding excessive unknown or inactive users when deploying is key to good deliverability. 

To keep your list clean, start your free trial of BriteVerify today.