email addresses

Temporary/Disposable Email Addresses & Their Effect on Deliverability

Temporary and disposable email addresses can hose your deliverability. Learn how to mitigate the damage – and prevent the problem (while finding great leads).
Article Outline

You know that John.Q.Doe visits your website often, and it sure looks like he’s interested in one of your big-ticket items. He signed up for one of your white papers on strategy. But you’ve emailed him twice now, and gotten a hard bounce both times. What’s going on?

As an email marketer, you already know many of the common factors that affect deliverability of your emails, but what about the uncommon factors? Let’s discuss how disposable and temporary email addresses in your list might determine whether or not you can reach John.Q.Doe via email.

As you know (and as most of you have encountered), many, if not most, of the addresses in your list will stop working over time. Some experts estimate that 25 to 30 percent of your organization’s contact data go bad each year under normal circumstances. When a recipient changes jobs or an organization changes email providers, those perfectly good addresses are rendered useless. These newly invalid email addresses negatively affect your deliverability due to the bounces that will inevitably occur if you keep sending to them.

You probably already knew this. What you may not know is that there are email addresses that are created to be temporary or disposable. These addresses are designed to stop working within a certain timeframe – or just keep existing and become unused.

The disposable email address (DEA)

The term “disposable email address” refers to addresses that have no long-term value to the creator or owner. They are usually acquired with a limited purpose in mind, and can be easily discarded. For example, if you wanted to sign up for a discussion board or chat room and also wanted to shield yourself from any email from the group, you might use a DEA. It would remain valid until you discarded it.

The temporary email address

Temporary email addresses, on the other hand, expire automatically over time. The timeframe could expire an address after twenty minutes, or a month, or after receiving a set number of emails. Email service providers and many online services offer these addresses, many times for free. The reason behind the growing popularity of these temporary email addresses is that they combat spam and identity theft, and address the annoyance of high volume senders.

With the rise in popularity of subscription-based websites, discussion forums, online retailers, and news sites, many people want access – without the inevitable deluge of emails in their inbox. Consumers often use temporary/disposable email addresses to take advantage of special offers or gain access to a site’s content without having to use their personal or business email addresses when completing sign-up forms.

Good for the consumer, bad for the marketer

Although these emails may be beneficial to the people who use them, they do present risks to email marketers. Implementing and sending to a list filled with these addresses presents almost zero benefits to the sender. If the address has expired, you’ll get a hard bounce. If an email does get through to the inbox, the potential that a recipient will engage is very low. Those email might go into a filtered folder, where they will be ignored until the end of time. Or they will notice your message is sent to an email they created to protect themselves from spam.

These addresses can drastically impede efforts to reach potential customers or contacts. Not only does it reduce your effective reach to customers and contacts but worse yet – it also skews your email list analytics. For example, your team may have extremely high delivery or subscription rates, with only a small fraction of those recipients and subscribers actually reading your emails.

In email marketing quality trumps quantity, and these types of email addresses are undeniably nonconducive to attracting quality leads. Temporary emails also increase the risk of reducing delivery rates and overall deliverability metrics. This means fewer messages get through due to higher bounces and can lead to you getting marked as a spammer.

How to protect yourself

How can you combat these addresses from affecting your list and deliverability metrics?

  • You can reject form submissions that contain temporary domains within the addresses. There are references online that list out these temporary email domains as well as services such as this one that specifically aids in blocking these temporary domains for you.
  • Another step is to get your list validated regularly through services such as Webulla, which comb through your list for invalid and expired domains.

The more effective preventive route to avoiding having people use temporary addresses with you is to understand why they use them.

People do so because they usually don’t trust you as a sender, or they anticipate they will be receiving many emails from you. What you need to do first is establish your trustworthiness with your recipients and subscribers.

  • Overall design of your websites and sign-up forms are your first concern. Present contact information clearly on your website and sign-up forms and reassure them that you will protect their privacy with statements such as “we will never collect your data to be rented, sold, or shared.”
  • Provide links to clear and easy to read privacy policies and post any relevant security and privacy seals.
  • Let people know exactly what you are going to send them, if there will be subsequent emails, and how often to expect them if so.
  • Give them the option to opt-out of those specific emails upfront. Or (best of all) create preference center that lets them decide what to receive from you, and how often.
  • Finally, practice strict and thorough permission-based email marketing.

Remember: the email recipients who give you explicit permission for sending subsequent emails to them, are doing so because they are interested in what you have to say and what you have to offer. They are the most likely to be the quality leads you and your sales team want.

Final words

The amount of spam/scam type websites are becoming ever-more prolific; this is evident partly from the growing use and popularity of temporary and disposable email addresses.

The key is to present your brand as a trustworthy sender, clearly state the benefits of your emails to your recipients, and give them control over what they receive from you. These measures should help minimize and mitigate your encounters with these temporary and disposable addresses.

The art of successful email marketing depends first and last upon proactive deliverability management. This eBook, Best Practices in Email Deliverability, will help you manage the critical factors that affect the deliverability of your email messages.

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