As we near the end of 2023, Google is poised to implement a significant change that could impact your organization’s email deliverability. Starting on December 1, 2023, Google will begin purging inactive Gmail accounts from its platform, Google defines inactive accounts as those that have not been accessed for two or more years.

Yahoo deletes inactive accounts regularly after 12 months, but this is Google’s first-ever account purge.

Why is this happening?

Google’s decision to delete inactive accounts is motivated by a desire to enhance security, maintain an active user base, and ensure the accuracy of its email platform.

What does this mean for your email list?

Your email list most likely includes some people who have not accessed their Google account in two or more years and thus will be deleted by Google in December. This means you will likely see increased bounce rates as these email addresses become inactive. Depending on how your email marketing platform handles bounces, you will also see your list size decrease, or you will need to go into your system and manually remove inactive emails, which will also decrease your list size!

The full impact of this action is expected to become apparent around mid-December, just before Year-End campaigns start. This means you should brace for a potential rise in bounce rates as inactive accounts are deleted from Google and make a plan to mitigate deliverability issues going forward.

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What do I do about these higher bounce rates?

Increased bounce rates might look scary, but don’t worry! This will result in a stronger and more active list. The email addresses being deleted by Google have not been active in two or more years, meaning they have not been opening any of the emails you send… and have been dragging down your other email metrics like open rate!

Check with your email marketing platform on how they handle bounces. Some automatically remove email addresses after a certain number of hard bounces, which means the system will clean up these inactive emails for you. If this is the case, you should see your bounce rates drop back down by January.

If your email marketing platform does not have a built-in system to handle hard bounces, be sure to run a report when you see bounce rates go up and manually remove those email addresses that have hard bounced.

Either way, your list size will decrease, but your open rates will likely increase!

Key Takeaways and Recommendations

  1. Understand the impending change and its potential impact on email deliverability.
  2. Regularly monitor bounce rates and list sizes to assess the effects of Google’s inactive account deletion.
  3. Consider implementing additional email list segmentation strategies to target active users more effectively.
  4. Stay informed about Google’s policy updates and adapt your email marketing strategies accordingly.

By following these recommendations, email marketers can navigate the upcoming changes and ensure that their email campaigns continue to reach their intended audience and achieve their desired results.

Questions? Reach out to K2D!