There are 5 important questions to consider when doing an opt-in campaign to old email addresses as a company. Below we will walk through these considerations.
1. How has my target market changed in the last few years? How likely is it that customers from them would be interested in my products now?
Keep demographics in mind. Is something they wanted then something they still want now? If you target a more narrow demographic the answer is probably not. If you believe your product is something that can be targeted to the same market for 10+ years, it may be okay to mail them
2. What do I have to offer a customer from a few years back? Is my current product line likely to interest them?
There have been dramatic changes within the last 5-10 years. Customers may not want now what they wanted then due to these changes. Even if some of the old customers may be interested in the product, it would have to be a large percentage that is interested to pursue an opt-in campaign.
3. How long does my product last? Are older customers still interacting with my product? Or have they forgotten I existed?
The blog provides a perfect example of the fact there are some pieces of software from 5-10 years ago that are still frequently used and then there are pieces of software that were tried out once to never be used again. If you receive an email regarding a piece of software that you only used once, you would most likely be annoyed that you received a mailing on that product. You have to be able to understand your customers need and understand how receptive they would be to the campaign.
4. What value am I bringing to the recipient? Do I have something new to offer? Can I push a new product or new launch?
Good deliverability is sending mail that your recipients want and expect to receive. If you do choose to e-mail recipients that haven't been contact in years, you need to include a strong selling point such as a new product. It's also important to discuss the changes you've gone through the last 5-10 years as a company so the customer will be intrigued by the campaign. This also lets them know that you realize they are an older member but that you want to keep them up to date on your company and your product offers.
5. Where did I get these email addresses? Do I have a good trail for them?
This is the most crucial part of determining whether you want to initiate this campaign. If you have a lot of domains in your list that you know no longer exist, it's not ideal to send to those people. Examples would be earthlink.net, home.com, etc. You also need to be extremely detailed regarding how exactly you obtained these email addresses. If you cannot determine exactly where they came from, you should not initiate in an opt-in campaign. If you do attempt to send to those addresses, more than likely you're going to end up in junk mail boxes and even worse, possibly blacklisted from many ISPs.
Another thing to keep in mind is even though you may think aol or hotmail addresses are good, if they're 5-10 years old it could be likely that they were converted to trap email addresses and mailing to those addresses usually results in being blocked as well.
In the end it comes down to whether or not you have a database worth sending to. Even if you do believe so, you need to factor in the cost of the campaign versus the ROI. Is it worth it?