We are pleased to have this guest post from 2012 Rising Email Star and #emailgeek Andy Falwell

So one of the big topics of debate in the world of email these days is the announcement that Yahoo! will soon begin the process of reclaiming inactive email addresses.  Their philosophy is simple: if you care about keeping your Yahoo! email address intact, great.  They’d love to have you.  If not, you’d better find some other place to send your Bacn because your Yahoo! accounts will cease to be yours.  And if you’ve been plugged in to the media over the past month, then you’ve no doubt heard the myriad opinions about how this is a terrible idea. 

Critics say that this will be difficult for marketers from a list hygiene point of view.  Others warn of the impending headache for ecommerce sites who have credit card information and might want to reactivate old purchasers.  Then there’s the nightmare surrounding anything at all related to financial institutions such as banks or credit cards.  And even still there’s is the multitude of sites whereyour email address is your login name. 

The critics have come out of the woodwork to criticize Yahoo! and say things such as “I can’t imagine why they’d do this” or “do they realize the collateral damage that will result as a fallout of this decision?”

And you know what? 

They’re all correct. 

Yup. 

Marketers will no doubt have to keep a very close eye on bounce rates and engagement.  SPAM complaints too. 

They’ll likely have to up their game and segment out Yahoo! addresses based on age, interaction and past history.  Websites such as travel companies that have personally identifiable information (PII) or other sites where an email address is the login credential will probably need to reach out to their customers to verify a primary email address or have an alternate email address on file. 

And as for banks, lenders and credit cards where identity theft is a real possibility, they will have to seriously think through how to handle all customers who have a Yahoo! email address on file.  It is no doubt going to create a lot of work for a lot of people. 

But what I fail to understand with all of this hullabaloo is how exactly this nets out to being a bad thing.  I mean really… so marketers might have to pay closer attention to delivery and perhaps design a more robust segmentation process?  That’s not really a bad thing. 

And there’s no doubt that ecommerce, banks and other sites with PII will own more of the burden of verifying the integrity of older accounts ensuring that users maintain and update their information.  Well, that’s not a bad thing either. 

And what about Yahoo!?  What do they stand to gain from this?  I’d argue that they stand to gain a lot, actually. 

To start with,  there’s the untold amount of server space (it’s probably an obscene amount in reality) that they will be able to reclaim and not pay for.  Then there’s the ability to get net new customers to the service who will finally be able to choose a reasonable yahoo email address like mike.jones@yahoo.com insteadof the currently suggested mike.jones1344@yahoo.com.  So that’s good too. 

After that, there’s the potential of reinvigorating old Yahoo! email addresses and maybe even getting a few of those newly reactivated folks to use other tools in the rather extensive Yahoo! portfolio.  But perhaps most importantly, better than any other benefit Yahoo! might see from this move is the fact that once again, people are actually talking about Yahoo!. 

Yes, Yahoo! is once again relevant.  The tech world is buzzing about them, marketers are discussing them and even Wall Street is watching closely to see how their new CEO steers this ship.  After years of obscurity and playing second fiddle to just about everyone else, Yahoo! is in the spotlight.  They are acquiring cool products (Tumblr and Xobni just since May 2013) and releasing new products of their own.  They are building a first-class workforce and are even seeing many former Yahoo!s (as they’reaffectionately known) reapplying for jobs. 

And they are making the rest of us think about how Yahoo! might once again fit into our lives. 

Now I probably won’t close my Gmail account tomorrow or make Yahoo! Jobs my go-to site for landing my next gig, but I’d be lying if I said Ihadn’t given it some thought.

A passionate, driven and seasoned online marketing expert with both product and project management experience, follow Andy on Twitter @afalwell or contact him by email at andy.falwell@gmail.com.


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