If you’re a new MailChimp subscriber and came across this message “Your account has one or more issues that need to be resolved. View issues”, you might panic at first. What are you doing wrong? What does it mean? Should you contact MailChimp immediately?
Well, in most cases, the answer is NO. The message likely came from the Omnivore email checker – an algorithm that runs through your email list to evaluate the risk of bounce rate and abuse rate.
But how do you fix those warning issues and get back to your campaigns?
You have all the answers right here. So keep reading.
- 1 What is MailChimp Omnivore?
- 2 How does MailChimp Omnivore work?
- 3 What triggers an Omnivore warning?
- 4 What is the difference between MailChimp Omnivore and account suspension?
- 5 What is MailChimp Omnivore warning?
- 6 How to fix MailChimp Omnivore warnings?
- 7 How does MailChimp Omnivore work with Email Validation services?
What is MailChimp Omnivore?
MailChimp is an email marketing and automation platform used by nearly 500,000 businesses, from the smallest firms with 10-50 employees to Fortune companies with $1M-$10M of revenues.
The reason why it’s so popular is that it’s an all-in-one platform that helps you create, manage, and track the performance of your marketing campaigns.
MailChimp features healthy contact management practices, along with beautifully designed campaigns and powerful data analytics.
Speaking of contract management practices, MailChimp has a very helpful feature: MailChimp Omnivore.
Omnivore is one of the many email marketing tools available for MailChimp users that help ensure higher open rates, lower bounce rates, and better sender reputation scores.
Omnivore is an automated algorithm that protects against abuse. It’s designed to “screen” your email list to identify email addresses that contribute to bounce, complaint, or spam trap rate.
Omnivore checks the quality of new email addresses added to your recipient list to see which ones are likely to be spam traps, hard bounces, or generate abuse complaints.
These are fraud management tools used by most internet service providers (ISPs) to protect their users against spam. A spam trap appears like a real email address. However, it does not belong to any person and could not be used for any communication.
A hard bounce is an email that fails to deliver for permanent reasons like the email address is invalid, it does not exist, the domain name is incorrect, or the recipient is unknown. Hard bounces can be dangerous to your email deliverability because they are often viewed by spam filters as ‘red flags’.
Abuse complaints/Spam complaints
Most ISPs allow their users to report a certain sender or email address as spam. You don’t get automatically blocked by the ISP when someone marks your email as spam. However, if you receive excessive abuse complaints, your sender reputation suffers and you might get blocked by these ISPs.
How does MailChimp Omnivore work?
When you import your contact list to your MailChimp account, Omnivore scans the email addresses that didn’t receive an email from you before. These addresses could be one of the following:
- Brand new imports
- Newly signed-up subscribers
- People you have segmented out from previous campaigns.
Because Omnivore uses an algorithm to scan email lists, it provides very accurate information about the risk of hard bounces, spam, and complaints associated with a group of email addresses.
The system assigns a level of risk to a certain email list, based on industry limits. Take note that internet service providers set limits for spam traps, hard bounces, and abuse complaints and email marketing platforms like MailChimp are required to enforce these limits. Note that the limits vary each year and ISP does not publicly release its limits.
But here’s the caveat – the system does not specify the email addresses that are flagged for a hard bounce, spam, and/or abuse complaint. Such email addresses will remain in your list and you can continue to send campaigns to the entire group or segment.
But while Omnivore is necessary, it becomes quite a chore if you don’t know how to deal with the warning signs. Note that until you fix them, you won’t be able to proceed to your sending your campaign.
So what do you do if you get a warning? We’ll talk about the steps to fix an Omnivore warning in detail. For now, let us discuss what triggers an Omnivore warning.
What triggers an Omnivore warning?
Before knowing how to fix MailChimp Omnivore warnings, you must know what triggers them first.
Omnivore warning issues are triggered by three things: stale email addresses, spam traps, and unfamiliar email addresses.
Follows up for stale email addresses.
Stale email addresses can be grouped into two:
- Old email addresses that you haven’t sent a campaign to in awhile. Maybe you’ve imported these addresses to your MailChimp a few months (or years) ago but you haven’t sent a campaign to them until very recently.
- Inactive email addresses that haven’t opened your message for a significant period. This happens when some of your subscribers have changed their email address, failed to remember you because of long gaps between the campaigns you send, or they no longer find your emails relevant to them.
NOTE: Because people change their email addresses too often, especially when changing jobs or switching to another ISP, it is important to update your list regularly.
Follows up for unfamiliar email addresses
Omnivore also screens your list for unfamiliar email addresses.
Whenever you import new email addresses to your MailChimp account, Omnivore goes through these contacts to check for addresses that you haven’t sent an email to before. They are flagged as “unfamiliar email addresses”.
Such contacts can come from different sources. Aside from new imports, unfamiliar addresses may also come from people who signed up through a form or an application as well as those you have sectioned or segmented from earlier campaigns.
MailChimp implements a certain threshold for unfamiliar email addresses. If Omnivore detects a surplus, you will receive a warning sign.
Follows up for spam traps
Lastly, Omnivore is triggered by spam traps.
Since spam traps could not opt-in to email subscriptions, the only way that they end up becoming your subscribers is when you don’t maintain a healthy list.
Spam traps are created for the sole purpose of luring in spammers or those that gather email addresses illegitimately. Below are the most common reasons why your list could contain spam traps:
- They were obtained without permission. Yes, buying subscribers will not lead you anywhere.
- You have email addresses that were no longer valid. Also called “recycled spam traps”, these email addresses have been abandoned for so long that they have been repurposed for luring spammers. With one in three people changing their email addresses in a year, if you don’t regularly scrub your list off inactive email addresses, you’re likely to encounter this problem.
- When someone sends an email address with a typo error or deliberately sent a fake email address.
NOTE: MailChimp Omnivores issues are something you shouldn’t ignore. It might involve extra steps to fix such issues but they’re worth your time and attention. Besides preventing the likelihood of account suspension, these warnings are intended to help keep your list healthy and enhance your email deliverability.
What is the difference between MailChimp Omnivore and account suspension?
Many users get confused about the difference between MailChimp Omnivore and account suspension.
Here’s the thing – Omnivore warning is not tantamount to account suspension. You don’t get suspended right away when you receive a warning from Omnivore. Rather, you will be prevented from sending a campaign to the list or segment that has been flagged. This means that you can continue to create and send campaigns to your other lists.
NOTE: If your account has been flagged three times within six months, your account will be suspended permanently.
What is MailChimp Omnivore warning?
When you receive a MailChimp Omnivore warning, it means that the list flagged has exceeded the industry limits for any of the three problem areas: hard bounces, spam traps, and abuse complaints.
A MailChimp Omnivore error will appear on your dashboard and you won’t be able to proceed with your campaign for the list flagged.
NOTE: Resolving MailChimp Omnivore issues right away is the best way to protect your account from getting suspended, worse, closed permanently.
How to fix MailChimp Omnivore warnings?
Warnings over a newly uploaded list.
Your starting point in resolving Omnivore issues is taking a look at your recently imported contacts. If you had recently imported new email addresses in your MailChimp account, something in it likely caused the problem.
Since you won’t know which email addresses are flagged, you have two options:
- Undo your latest import.
- Clean your list and re-confirm the email addresses.
Warnings over bad data (invalid and stale email addresses).
If you haven’t imported new contacts recently, there’s a good chance that you have an old list of bad data. If you don’t send campaigns regularly or there is such a significant period that you haven’t touched base with your subscribers, you could be dealing with Omnivore warnings over stale or inactive email addresses.
To resolve this problem, MailChimp recommends segmenting your list to remove the addresses that may have caused the issue. Again, you will need to reconfirm those email addresses and weed out the bad ones.
Okay – so how do you reconfirm email addresses?
First, you have to export the list flagged by Omnivore, bulk-unsubscribe the addresses from your email marketing list and reach out to them outside MailChimp, with a link to your signup form.
Again, you will send the reconfirmation email from a brand new email address, outside MailChimp. Consider including an explanation of the types of campaigns that your subscribers will receive. MailChimp also recommends using your regular email client and email address so your contacts can easily recognize the sender. More of the detailed steps for reconfirming email addresses here.
How does MailChimp Omnivore work with Email Validation services?
Remember, whether your list is consists of new or old email addresses, you can still receive Omnivore warnings if you don’t maintain a clean list.
Again, Omnivore doesn’t say the trigger for the warning. Nor does it show the specific email addresses that it flagged. You’re in a dark room.
So this is where email validation services come in. It only takes a second to validate an email address if you’re using a tool.
An email validation service runs your list through multiple checks to spot spam traps, as well as stale and inactive addresses. All you need is to submit your list for processing, download the result, and add the invalid addresses to a suppression list.
Validating email addresses can go a long way in protecting your reputation by reducing the hard bounces in your email campaigns.
Take note, however, that email validation is not a magic bullet to your Omnivore warning issues. Regular list hygiene is imperative to your email marketing strategy. And that involves using email validation service as a safeguard, along with organic acquisition methods, and regular cleaning out of your list.