Google’s Inactive Account Manager – A step towards better mailing list hygiene?

ISPs are excelling themselves in improving their email services and making them more user friendly. Thinking out of the box results in intuitive interfaces, less complicated message composition editors, free web tools and many more. But Google came up with yet another idea, proving they really try to walk in their customers’ shoes.

google-500x309Google assumed – we don’t think about what will happen to our data once we are not in this world anymore. The natural life cycle made the Mountain View giant to createInactive Account Manager. It can be found in the Account Settings and it’s basically a simple setting that tells Google what to do with your data when you are not logging in for a given period of time. There are three possible inactivity periods – 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. After setting the time interval we can define what action should be taken: account deletion, sending notification to up to 10 people about our account going inactive or we can decide to grant access to our data with to our loved ones. Before that, Google will try to reach the user by sending an email to the secondary email address or a text message to confirm that the owner is not willing/not able to use his/her account anymore.

As this solution has a big potential in data security it may also have a significant influence on email marketers. Gmail addresses usually make up a substantial part of an average mailing lists. As your list grows, the addresses are getting older. Unless you perform automatic list cleanse by removing inactive recipients, you’ve already learned the older the list, the overall engagement decreases as well. This makes your open rates lower and can lead to deliverability issues. Now, imagine that all Gmail users on your list set their accounts to automatic deletion after, say, 6 months of inactivity. Mailing such addresses after this time period effects in receiving a user unknown bounce. Reputable ESPs will make sure not to let their clients email them ever again. This way you end up with is a list of only active Gmail subscribers and you don’t even have to lift a finger to achieve that. Sounds good, don’t you think?

Currently Inactive Account Manager is available to accounts only. Google Apps are, by definition, made for companies. These will surely take care of the data when their employees quit the job. Hopefully other major ISPs will follow and introduce similar features in the future. It would surely help email marketers keep their lists up to date.

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