Inactive and Stale Email Addresses in Email Marketing

Inactive and Stale Email Addresses in Email Marketing

Most beginner email marketers tend to believe that bulk sending to more email addresses will result in higher open and click rates. This is not correct, the relationship between the volume of emails,  opens, clicks, complaints, unsubscribes, and domain reputation are all related and affects your email deliverability. 

To get success in email marketing it is important to manage stale and inactive email addresses.

In this article, you'll learn the difference between stale and inactive addresses

Stale Email Address

An address that hasn’t received any email in a long time. Subscribers may not remember you when there's a big time gap in your email send, and their email addresses may no longer be valid.

Inactive Email Address

A subscriber with a valid address that you've sent to recently, but who hasn't opened or clicked your campaigns. Inactive subscribers don't affect the health of your subscribers, and they can be valuable in the future. 

Issues with Stale Email Addresses

A contact list with a lot of stale addresses can lead to high rates of bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribes. We recommend that you delete or reconfirm stale addresses. A cleaner list of subscribers will help in improving email deliverability and engagement.

Issues Inactive Email Addresses

Inactive addresses are often turned into spam traps by ISPs, and emailing to those can make your whole email marketing. 

Difference between Inactive and Stale 



A subscriber signed up a month ago but hasn’t clicked on your campaign. 

You have an audience that you sent campaigns to regularly in past but haven’t used in a long time

Subscriber open rate, click rate has dropped

Address collected from business events and haven’t emailed yet

Customer bought from your online store last year and didn’t open your last five campaigns

You have an email audience but you didn’t send any emails to these addresses.

The following are the best practices to issues regarding stale and inactive users.

  1. Use double opt-in for subscribers
  2. Implement a policy to remove unengaged subscribers
  3. Using email validation(verification) tools

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