Don’t Fear the Gmail Reaper. Or, A Word About the Winnowing

If your list got a little smaller recently and gmail accounts are the ones that are AWOL, you’re in good company – and there’s no need to panic. Gmail has been cleaning house, tidying up and removing idle accounts, or ones that are used in spam farms. They’re doing everyone a favor, and there’s no need to fret, because the accounts they’re removing were junk anyway.

All of us in the email ecosystem – recipients, mailbox hosts, publishers, ESPs (email service providers) like FeedBlitz – have a vested interest in keeping spam and junk out, and ensuring that email that ends up in an inbox is legit. We all have our responsibilities. The inbox hosts – e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL – have theirs too. Most of the time, one would imagine that much of their focus is on filtering inbound spam out. That was the goal behind Yahoo’s and AOL’s DMARC policy changes a year and a half ago.

But they also worry about email that they send, and spam emails that ask for replies which go to accounts on their systems. What some spammers do is use cheap labor to create many free accounts on these systems, then sign up for mailing lists using dual opt-in to legitimize them, because look, a human did this! … and then they use these accounts to email junk, or as the inboxes where you’re invited to send your social security number, claim your Nigerian windfall, etc. You get the idea.

These accounts are otherwise typically idle and don’t behave like real people. The inbox hosts periodically remove them as they show up in their anti-abuse scans. So yes, they were dual opted-in by a human to make them seem real; but in fact they’re not real, weren’t paying attention to you mailings, and weren’t clicking through to read your content. They’re just online chaff, and it’s good to have them winnowed out.

When an ISP does this, they’re making the Internet a safer place by removing opportunities to run email scams; they’re saving you money by reducing the size of your list automatically (assuming, like FeedBlitz, you’re not charged for deleted subscribers); and generally making everyone’s lives better by increasing the quality of the mail streams we send.

ISPs taking responsibility for spam accounts on their systems is a Good Thing and should be welcomed, even if we subconsciously calibrate our online ego by the size of our mailing lists (don’t, BTW; open rate is a much better metric).

Panic not, then. And if you have concerns about a particular address on your list, please do drop a note over to FeedBlitz support. We’re happy to tell you about a subscriber’s activity, verify their deliverability and much more. We’ve earned our Sender Scores (96-99, thank you very much), after all.


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