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The Purge: Gmail Edition

The Purge: Gmail Edition

Grab your weapon of choice, the purge has begun! 

Ok ... so maybe it's not as violent, but your email lists may be feeling the impacts of the Gmail account purge. 

The Back Story

Gmail is the largest email provider in the world. Since it's inception, Gmail has never cleaned up old/inactive accounts. With 1.8 billion (yes, that was with a b) Gmail users and even more when it comes to Google photos, this clean up is much needed. Google is holding a ton of space on accounts that people have long forgotten about. And even more concerning is that these old accounts are more likely to be compromised. These accounts pre-date any two-factor authentication so the ability for a hacker to take it over is very easy, especially considering these accounts probably share passwords with plenty of other accounts. Having access to an old email account can allow any bad actor to reek havoc on your personal data. 

On December 1, 2023 Google began the purge. Any inactive account is eligible to be removed. 

What classifies an "inactive" account? 

According to Google, they are updating their inactivity policy for Google Accounts to 2 years across products. If a Google account has not been used or singed into for at least 2 years, the account and its contents are eligible for deletion.

Will users be notified?

The purge began as a phased approach starting with accounts that were created and never used again. Before any account is deleted Google will send multiple notifications leading up to the deletion. The notification will send to the account email address and the recovery account (if one is on file).

What does the Gmail purge mean for my email list?

Apparently that's why you were reading this blog post to begin with! The removal of inactive accounts could affect your email list, especially if you aren't taking care to regularly "clean" your list. Good list hygiene is the best way to ensure your email list doesn't take a hit. 

If your list is multiple years old, has rarely, if ever, been cleaned up (that means removing dead mailboxes and those who have not ever engaged with your emails), then there's a good chance you'll feel this purge impact. Every message you send to a non-existent mailbox will be a hard bounce. Hard bounces should be removed from your list. They aren't coming back. It's best to accept this and move on. Continuing to send to mailboxes that have been removed can hurt your sender reputation. 

Overall, this will be a positive move not only for account security, but for your email list. If your numbers drop, don't be alarmed. These people weren't reading your emails to begin with. If you are a on "pay per email" platform, this is actually saving you money. 

If email is part of your marketing strategy (and let's face it, it should be!) and you could use some help,  please reach out and speak with one of our Account Managers. We'd love to help grow your email program - and help you avoid those dead mailboxes.