The importance of data hygiene

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Over the weekend, one of the major ISPs purged a lot of abandoned accounts from their system. This has resulted in a massive increase in 550 user unknown bounces at that ISP. This ISP is one of those that uses bounces to feed into their reputation system and the purge may cause otherwise good senders to be blocked temporarily.
Talking to clients and other industry folks, it looks like the addresses that have newly bounced off had zero activity for at least 6 months. Nothing. Nada. No clicks. No opens. No interaction.
This is why data hygiene is so critical. Just because the emails are being accepted at the ISP, and even showing inbox placement at the mailbox monitoring companies does not mean that there is actually someone reading your email. Failure to look at overall data means that when an ISP bulk deletes abandoned accounts then bounces will increase. While I don’t expect this to have any real, long term effect on sender reputation I do expect that some senders with a lot of cruft on their list will see some short term delivery problems.
Companies that run re-engagement campaigns saw a whole lot less bouncing and even less blocking as a result of the purge. They were removing addresses that were non-responsive all along and thus didn’t have major deadwood on their list.
Ongoing data hygiene shows you what your list really is, not your list plus abandoned accounts. The addresses that the ISP purged? They were not valuable anyway. No one was reading that mail for at least 6 months.
If you did see a spike in bounces this weekend at a major ISP, you should really look at engagement. If some percentage of recipients at one ISP are actually non-existent, then it’s likely that about that same number are non-existent at other major ISPs as well. What are you going to do to identify and remove those dead addresses from your lists?

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