Making Sense of Google's Spam Trap Policy: Keep Mailing for 2 Years


Clarity At Last

As many of you will know, Google's recent announcement about their impending 2-year account inactivity policy change has me revisiting an ongoing beef of mine. Namely, why you should email inactives and how long you can safely do so before they become Spam Traps.

The answer to that last question, it now appears, is 2 years. I repeat - 2 years!

That’s 2 years of not ever accessing your email account, using search, Google maps, Google docs and more. As there is nearly zero chance that the last interaction with Google your customers had was to open an email from you, that seems like a safe number to me.

What truly caught my attention is how this policy confirmation resonates with the very essence of my views, as articulated in this article on deliverability and engagement here on OI. I've long posited that engaging with non-openers for an extended duration, even up to two years, is the smart thing to do. This belief is grounded in the conviction that non-openers, despite their lack of immediate interaction, still possess latent interest, waiting to be tapped into.

Examining Google's inactivity policy through my email marketing perspective casts light on the convergence of these seemingly disparate concepts and their profound impact on the strategies we employ in the realm of digital communication.

Google's Account Inactivity Policy: Navigating Data Ethics Not Inbox Placement

Considering the substance of Google's announcement, it becomes apparent that spam and phishing prevention aside, the company is consciously steering toward responsible data management and user privacy. The shift towards implementing a two-year inactivity threshold (I suspect it was much longer before this) reflects Google's commitment to curtailing the accumulation of digital detritus and increase in fraud that accompanies stagnant accounts.

From where I stand, Google's policy amendment serves as a vivid illustration of their long view perspective on prolonged “inactivity” – a view I hold and encourage all email marketers to adopt ASAP. It also underscores the significance of continuous engagement and sustained interaction email marketing.

Sustaining Engagement Over Time

My stance on the potential of non-openers as future prospects over an extended period challenges the prevailing inclination to swiftly disengage with them, often after only 6 months. I've maintained that the users' journey to interaction is often a nuanced trajectory that demands multiple touchpoints before they are ready to fully engage.

In my view, persistently sending emails to non-openers over an extended span acknowledges the intricate nature of user behaviour. It's an understanding that not all recipients are primed for immediate interaction. This perspective illuminates the depth of engagement that can be garnered by embracing a more extended outlook.

The Power of Prolonged Engagement

Bridging the realms of Google's policy evolution and my email marketing philosophy underscores a broader theme: the potency of persistence and adaptability in our digital universe. While Google's policy centers on data governance, my perspective highlights the latent value in fostering connections with recipients who may require more time to engage meaningfully.

From my standpoint, the intersection of Google's two-year timeframe and my engagement philosophy offers actionable insights. It underscores the importance of nurturing patient and enduring email marketing strategies that appreciate the value of ongoing engagement.

The Parrot is Alive!

In summation, the convergence of Google's account inactivity policy and my email marketing philosophy shows the interplay between user behaviour, brand affinity, and ethical data management is measured in years, not days or weeks. This lifecycle viewpoint – that I suspect will be shared by other providers, accentuates the importance of unwavering engagement, adaptability, and the finesse of timing in today's multifaceted digital realm. It's a clarion call to craft strategies that embody user preferences, foster authentic connections, and navigate the ever-evolving intricacies of email communication.

A Final Thought on Deliverability

With the holiday season approaching – a time when many if not all brands mail subscribers who have not been mailed in a while - I asked friends, fellow OI members, and deliverability experts Lauren Meyer (SocketLabs) and Sella Yoffe (Data Media), this:

“From a deliverability perspective which is worse? Mailing a 1-year inactive person once a year around Q4 or mailing them regularly all year.”

Both were unanimous that all things being equal, and if you follow deliverability best practice, regular mailing of inactives is better than sporadic offers/reactivation emails every 6 months or so.

Follow deliverability best practice and carry on mailing!

dead parrot 2 600Image courtesy of the author