What is a disposable email address and how to manage them
A disposable email address (DEA) is a temporary email address that is used for a specific purpose and is discarded when no longer needed. Unlike a permanent email, it can be readily disposed of without affecting the rest of the user’s contacts and messages.
Disposable emails provide people with an instant email they can use when they don’t want to share their primary email address. These types of emails are also valued for their privacy and security.
Here’s an example of a random email address created with a disposable email tool called Temp Mail that you can use to mask your real email address.
While people like using disposable email addresses to protect their privacy, email marketers find them troublesome due to poor campaign performance. But not all disposable emails are bad! You can still have a healthy, growing email list with “good” disposable emails inside. Let’s find out how.
3 types of disposable email addresses
Not all disposable emails are alike! Here are three main types.
1. Throwaway email address
As the name suggests, a throwaway email address is available for use until you no longer need it. Some disposable email providers set up a temporary inbox that exists until you delete it while others, like 10 Minute Mail, self-destruct after ten minutes!
2. Forwarding email address
A forwarding email address service, like TrashMail, receives email at another domain name and forwards it to the user’s personal email address. As an email marketer, you will not know the actual email provider that the person is using to read your messages.
3. Alias email address
An email alias is a variation of a real email address. At popular inbox services like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, you can use aliases to create many new email addresses that share the same inbox, contacts and settings as your primary email account.
In Gmail, for example, get an instant email alias by adding a plus sign “+” to your email address followed by a descriptive label. For example, you can direct all retail and promotional emails to email@example.com.
Why people use disposable email addresses
Preserve privacy and safety
Disposable email accounts add a layer of security between the user and the Internet. For privacy and safety reasons, people may not want to reveal their actual email—and thus identity—while engaging in online forums or interacting with websites and apps.
EmailOnDeck.com, for example, says that one use of their temporary email service is to trade cryptocurrency securely!
Harm others with malicious acts
Unfortunately, anonymous emails also provide a cover for bad actors on the Internet: spammers, phishers, and malware authors. People may use them to troll social media sites to attack individuals or provoke others with inflammatory content.
Reduce unwanted emails
A temp email can be used to protect a person’s primary email account from spam and promotional emails. Customers may not trust a brand yet to share their main email address, or they may fear the theft of personal information from hacked databases.
Organize their email inbox
Many people also use email aliases to filter and organize their inboxes. They want the convenience of keeping their primary email account, while sorting various senders using labels and folders. Gmail users, for example, can use an email alias like firstname.lastname@example.org to direct all newsletters to the Updates tab.
Test products and services
Developers use free services like Mailinator to test their software, while people use disposable email addresses to try new products and services when they are not ready to commit yet. Thus, any unwanted emails are confined to the temporary email address.
How disposable emails hurt email marketing
Not all disposable email services have the same effect on your email campaigns. People who use forwarding emails, email aliases and throwaway email accounts (that can be used indefinitely) will receive your emails—and they will be marked as “delivered”. But other types will affect your email campaigns. Let’s examine them.
Harms your sending reputation
Some throwaway email addresses will hard bounce in email campaigns when they expire or get discarded. Continuing to send to these inactive emails will hurt your sending reputation, get you labeled as a spammer, and ultimately affect your email deliverability.
Skews email marketing metrics
Disposable emails set up for testing or malicious purposes will probably not interact with you. If you have such emails in your list, their zero open rates will skew your metrics—making it hard for you to gauge the actual performance of your email marketing campaigns.
Wastes time and resources
Disposable emails that don’t go to primary email inboxes will inflate your email list size and thus the cost of sending email marketing campaigns. Plus, you are wasting time engaging disinterested people behind emails that will eventually become invalid!
3 ways to manage disposable email addresses
1. Build trust with the customer
People use disposable email addresses because they do not trust most brands, or they are unsure how their personal information will be protected. They may fear accidental leaks of the customer database and theft of confidential information by hackers!
You can gain the trust of customers by being transparent about how you collect, use and protect their information. Also, you could also assure people that their data is securely encrypted and will be of little use to bad actors unless it is decrypted.
For example, our email marketing partner, MailerLite, gives confidence to people to share their email address with these steps:
Explaining what emails they will receive
Displaying a GDPR compliance badge
2. Verify emails as you collect them
What if people still insist on using disposable email addresses to sign up? You can verify new emails as you collect them by using an email verification tool like MailerCheck. Connect it with your web apps using Zapier or use the email validation API wherever you gather emails:
3. Practice good email list hygiene
When you use MailerCheck regularly to keep a sparkling clean list, you should also remove emails that are flagged as “disposable” in the cleaning report. These emails have been identified as risky and they will be responsible for most of your bounces in the future.
In addition, take a two-step approach to clean other types of emails in your list:
Remove invalid emails like those with syntax errors and non-existent mailboxes. These emails will be of no value to you if you cannot reach them. This step should also clean up any hard bounces from throwaway emails that have long expired or have been deleted.
Identify and remove any inactive subscribers who didn't respond to a win-back campaign. This will sweep up any disposable emails that are still receiving emails but have been abandoned, prevent you from hitting spam traps, and keep your overall mailing list healthy.
Your list will be smaller but it’ll be filled with warm subscribers who want to receive your emails—quality and not quantity is the key here!
Keep cleaning disposable emails for a healthy list
Disposable email addresses are here to stay but they’re not all the same. Use an email verification tool like MailerCheck to clean risky disposable emails while keeping the good ones, and you’ll continue to grow a healthy email list!
What do you do to manage disposable emails? Share your tips in the comments.