Verizon To Deactivate 4.5M Email Addresses

Verizon plans to deactivate 4.5 million email addresses in favor of AOL Mail by the end of the month -- a disruption that could cause severe deliverability issues for email marketers. 

Although the exact date of the transition remains unclear, Verizon has been notifying email users that it will soon be migrating email addresses to AOL as a part of its 2015 AOL acquisition. customers have 30 days to choose one of three options: transfer their email account to AOL, transfer to another email provider, or leave their accounts untouched in favor of deletion. Users who choose to transition to AOL can keep their email address ending in, but they will need to log in through AOL Mail to access their inbox. 

After 6 months of inactivity, Verizon will delete all email addresses and any corresponding data. Verizon estimates that a little over half of the email addresses have been used in the last 30 days, with 2.3 million of its 4.5 million email accounts still active.

The email transition is somewhat straightforward for consumers, but it could cause severe deliverability and targeting issues for email marketers. Sending messages to deleted email addresses will cause bounce backs, potentially affecting a marketer’s sender reputation, and thus, the deliverability rates of the rest of a brand’s email list.

Allen Nance, chief marketing officer at Emarsys, says email marketers should start preparing now for the eventual transition. The email marketing and cloud technology company has been working with its customer base, including Nike, L’Oreal and eBay, on the best methods to mitigate a loss of email subscribers after the transition. 

Nance has been recommending clients clean up their email lists now and segment all email addresses to begin messaging them differently ahead of the transition. He recommends email marketers consider sending a “remember us when” campaign to capture new email addresses.

“Set creative segments right now and send a pre-announcement release,” says Nance. “It shows thoughtfulness and caring, and a lot of companies should take that into consideration. This is a real opportunity to reach out and provide some thought leadership and reassurance on the matter.” 

“Be a good brand, but don’t oversell,” says Nance. “Say ‘we value your business’ and that ‘we would hate for you to experience some sort of interruption.’”

The transition of email addresses may be foreshadowing for the future of Yahoo Mail, and Nance envisions Verizon doing something similar in the future to Yahoo email addresses after the acquisition. 

“Yahoo is often times difficult to deliver to and it underperforms compared to Gmail,” says Nance.

Nance asserts that AOL Mail is a much better email client to send communication to, compared to Yahoo and Verizon, and that the transition might eventually benefit email marketers. AOL Mail allows for advanced feature segmentation and responsive design -- tactics that could boost email engagement.

“All of the functionality of AOL Mail is far more advanced around doing dynamic sends and it delivers more HTML 5 functionality,” says Nance. “As long as consumers don’t go away and you don’t have to find them, the end-consumer experience will actually be better. There’s an argument to be made that engagement and revenue would go up with a better customer experience.”

Eventually, Nance predicts that more than a dozen email hosting providers will collapse into 2-3 major competitors. Gmail already owns a majority of the consumer email market, but Nance believes Verizon might also be a major player.



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