Suppose you’ve ever faced the MailChimp Omnivore problem, where you cannot forward emails, or you’re facing an outright ban on using individual email lists. In that case, you must know how painful it is watching your hard work and meticulous preparation thrown out the window.

MailChimp created Omnivore to serve as a filter and anti-spam prevention system to maintain their platform’s integrity. 

However, navigating through the system can be complicated. Sometimes, you might receive the Omnivore warnings, even when it is an error. However, not dealing with these warnings can lead to devastating consequences. Many businesses depend on their email campaigns to expand their footprint. 

Do you want to learn how to deal with the MailChimp Omnivore? We will talk about how the Omnivore works, types of Omnivore warnings and tips, insights, and shortcuts to get around the problem. We will equally explain in detail how to prevent future Omnivore errors.

What Is MailChimp Omnivore?

At the bottom line, the Omnivore is a protection against abuse. The MailChimp Omnivore is a sophisticated algorithm that runs through your email lists to assess the risks of abuse, complaint, or spam trap rate. The Omnivore warning usually happens when every time you import your email database into the MailChimp system.

The MailChimp Omnivore has been around since 2008. It began on the Nvidia Tesla supercomputers but has since moved to a cluster of Amazon Ec2 servers. Whenever you receive an Omnivore warning, you can’t send emails or campaigns to that flagged list until you have dealt with the problem. 

How Does The MailChimp Omnivore Work?

Through its complicated algorithm, the MailChimp Omnivore scans every email list. The MailChimp Omnivore will run over 61 trillion email data comparisons and counting. It is consistently analyzing user behavior and email lists to identify spammers and protect the system.

If your list shows up as having a high risk, you won’t send emails to that list. When this happens, MailChimp usually sends this message Your account has one or more issues that need to be resolved. View Issues.” 

You might receive the warning via email or within the MailChimp SaaS.

Figure 1 - A Sample Omnivore Warning
Figure 1 – A Sample Omnivore Warning

Receiving this message means you have to deal with the warnings and fix the problem before sending emails to that list again.

However, there are three scenarios you might face:

First, the Omnivore error can be triggered even for doing the most routine things. You can even get suspended or banned for doing just that. This is because, like every other software, Omnivore can generate false positives. Secondly, Omnivore won’t provide the specific addresses that are problematic. It only states you have problem emails, and so it’s up to you to find and remove them.

Thirdly, Omnivore will not alter or erase your email list. Even when flagged, it remains intact until you fix the error yourself. You can also try a different list and send emails to unaffected lists.

Why The Omnivore Matters?

As said earlier, the Omnivore came to play in 2008. Eliminating spamming is the main aim of Omnivore. However, like the CEO, Ben Chestnut, states, the worst-case scenarios are not the evil spammers but those spamming ignorantly. 

According to Ben Chestnut, many current spamming solutions, especially those that ISPs use, were already diligent at eliminating phishing scams and other kinds of evil spamming. But what about those sending emails to unsolicited addresses such as the content creator, reaching out to addresses he bought elsewhere.

 As echoed by Ben Chestnut and every other email marketing solution elsewhere, spam accounts for over 47.8 percent of global email traffic. It costs the Email service providers dearly. 

Without control, the high bounces, complaints, and unsubscribes can get their IPs blacklisted by ISPs and email gateways. 

Before creating the Omnivore, Ben and his team tried stopping spammers manually, but the task is too cumbersome. So, they made Omnivore, a fully automated software that efficiently handles the job in the background.

Like Google’s search engine, Omnivore is a dynamic software that makes it difficult for mediocre email practices to slip through the system. Like Google’s search algorithms, its algorithms analyze thousands of factors consistently. Such factors can range from bounces, unsubscribers, bad URLs, general MailChimp data, existing blacklists, wrong keywords, opens, clicks, abuse, and so on. 

The Omnivore is not only practical; it was created on your behalf. Omnivore creates a win-win situation for you and your MailChimp email service. It protects your reputation, improves the quality of your email list, and ensures that you have a deliverability edge over your competitors.

MailChimp Omnivore Affects More Than Spammers

Most people believe that the Omnivore only affects spammers. However, considering the millions of trigger points, there’s a high chance of receiving the Omnivore warning. Secondly, like every other tool, there are imperfections. So the Omnivore can yield more false positives. You can receive the omnivore error when doing routine tasks. 

Ironically, the MailChimp Omnivore will not provide specifics on the reasons behind the error. That’s why you need to take matters into your hands to deal with the Omnivore error. Let’s talk about the things you can do that can trigger the omnivore warning.

What Triggers The MailChimp Omnivore Warning Or Error?

A- Stale Email Addresses

A stale list is a list of emails that have not received your business emails in a long time. These lists usually have high levels of undeliverable results because such email addresses may have become inactive. For instance, your emails may no longer be relevant to the receiver. Perhaps your recipient has changed roles or jobs, which means they must have changed their email address. 

According to MailChimp, database decay occurs at over 23% a year as people change their email addresses for numerous reasons. So it’s essential to keep your data up to date by getting rid of stale emails. 

B- Unfamiliar Email Addresses

You have higher chances of receiving the Omnivore warning if you import a new email list into MailChimp. This list usually consists of unfamiliar email addresses from various places. Sources may include people who signed up newly for your services, individuals you sectioned from earlier email campaign sends, etc. 

It’s also important to note that there is a threshold for unfamiliar email addresses. Exceeding that threshold quickly triggers the Omnivore warning.

C- Spam Traps 

A spam trap is an email address that a human no longer owns but has been repurposed by ISPs, anti-spam organizations, and third partners. Sometimes, spam traps email addresses do not belong to opted-in subscribers; they might be used solely by these organizations to catch spammers.

D- Role-Based Emails

Besides all the bad email addresses listed above, you need to remove role-based emails too. MailChimp doesn’t like such addresses as they are usually used within companies instead of sending emails to one person. Such email addresses typically have these attributes:

If you must use such emails, consider adding them one at a time or get these people with role-based emails to join your email list manually. You can also cross-check your list against MailChimp’s big list of role-based email suffixes to know which ones are potential triggers. However, MailChimp disapproves of them but can tolerate them if you can painstakingly deal with them one at a time.

Other bad email addresses that can trigger the Omnivore error include:

  • Disposable emails – these are temporary email accounts people use so they will not receive spam/marketing messages
  • Invalid SMTP – This is an email that doesn’t exist on the server
  • Invalid Domains – This occurs when a business doesn’t renew its email hosting domain.
  • Duplicate emails – These are identical emails; the Omnivore dislikes lists containing duplicates.
  • Invalid MX Record – An MX record accesses the pathway to the recipient’s inbox. When this part is broken, the email can’t reach your prospect’s inbox.
  • Hard bounces –  This occurs when an email instantly returns to you, and so you must remove such emails from your list
  • Invalid syntax – Some prospects accidentally misspell their emails, especially during opt-ins. These will, off-course, lead to a hard bounce, so you need them out of your email list.

MailChimp Warning Vs. Account Suspension/Ban

MailChimp usually sends a warning flagging that email list. However, MailChimp user accounts can get suspended or banned too.

Usually, suspensions happen from issues with recent email campaigns, unclear list collection processes, and signing up with a free email account (such as your Gmail account). It can also happen if your recent activity violates MailChimp’s terms of use.

Once suspended, MailChimp Customer support will contact you to take steps to resolve the issue. However, if a user receives three suspensions in 6 months, Omnivore may permanently shut down the account.

So, you have to take the Omnivore warnings seriously, even when it seems as though you are doing something that’s merely routine. Never ignore the omnivore warning, as it won’t go away until you have fixed the problem. Ignoring also increases the risks of being suspended or banned!

Figure 2 - An Example of a Suspended Account
Figure 2 – An Example of a Suspended Account

How To Deal With Omnivore Warning

Reach Out to MailChimp Support

Omnivore usually bans after three suspensions within six months. However, Omnivore isn’t perfect. So there are times you might receive the warning in error. People have talked about being banned or suspended from doing the most routine tasks, even stuff you’ve done for years. When this happens, contact MailChimp. They will do everything to help you find the solution. But it’s important you’ve tried everything on your own also to expedite the process. 

How To Prevent Omnivore Warnings

Fix 1 – The Free Approach To Eliminate Omnivore Warning 

1- Verify Your List With Gmail

No matter the source of your email list, cleaning is important.  Luckily, Gmail can help you clean your list for free, as long as you have less than 500 emails (the highest allowed by Google to send from your personal email account).

Therefore, when you have a smaller list, Gmail can help you know if any emails bounced. Once you’ve done this, get rid of the hard bounces. Then, upload your email list on MailChimp to check if the problem is fixed.

2- Manually Checking Your List

You can export your list to a spreadsheet like Excel and organize it by title. This will help you filter duplicates, addresses missing the ‘@’ symbol, old email addresses, role-based emails, and free email addresses. You can also look for errors such as 

  • Extra spaces before, after, or within the email address,
  • Typos, particularly around the email service providers, e.g., Yhoo, Gamil
  • Using semi-colons (instead of commas) to separate emails. European spreadsheet programs usually do this automatically, but MailChimp considers them as a syntax error.

However, this takes a long time, but the result is worthwhile. You can equally use pre-made Excel commands to find such misspelled emails. E.g., this is a formula for finding the three most common errors: without an ‘@,’ emails with extra spaces, and emails without a dot.

AND(FIND(“@”,A2),FIND(“.”,A2),ISERROR(FIND(” “,A2)))

Figure 3 - Formula For Checking Three Common Syntax Errors
Figure 3 – Formula For Checking Three Common Syntax Errors

Using this manual approach, you can also check new lists. Sometimes the Omnivore warning would contain this instruction. So, you don’t have to export your entire list but the new ones alone. However, stale email addresses can also be a culprit too.

Figure 4 - Using Excel To Manually Clean Email Lists
Figure 4 – Using Excel To Manually Clean Email Lists

Use Free Trials From Different Email Verification Solutions 

Many email verification software offers free trials. Suppose you are just starting, and have a small list of emails. In that case, you can use different email verification solutions to take advantage of those multiple trials. In reality, email verification solutions are much better than Gmail at detecting bad addresses.

Some are also dirt cheap for a smaller list, giving you a unique opportunity to leverage several solutions. However, if you have thousands of emails, this solution won’t work for you.

Fix 2 – The Best Ways To Prevent Future Omnivore Errors

1- Use Email Verification Software

Bad email addresses are one of the most widespread triggers of the MailChimp Omnivore warning. That’s why you need to use email verification software to screen your email addresses carefully. 

If your list has too many bad email addresses, you will have the Omnivore error, and you cannot send emails from that list until you have gotten rid of it.

Cleaning up your emails using email verification software such as EmailInspector will help you deal with the Omnivore error. It further improves your deliverability and domain reputation. 

2- Consider Using Double Opt-Ins

Use double opt-in for new subscribers to your email. It means that when someone signs up to receive emails from you, send a verification email immediately to the address they provide. Therefore, their opt-ins will not be complete until they have clicked the verification link. This is the only way cost-effective and efficient way to create a truly ‘clean’ subscriber list. However, it won’t negate the need to clean your lists from time to time to filter out changed addresses. 

Verifying will also ensure that you create email lists with real names instead of role-based titles, which further reduces the chances of receiving an omnivore warning. Besides, you should also send these verification emails and follow-ups as quickly as possible. People tend to forget about your value proposition and brand if you wait too long. 

3- Use Small Email Batches

If you have new subscriber lists or cold lists you haven’t recently sent emails to, we recommend uploading in small batches. Although there are no hard and fast rules, we believe an ideal size would be less than 150. 

You can further segment by date added; specific campaigns are after, and many other behaviors.  

Figure 5 - Creating Segmented Email Lists
Figure 5 – Creating Segmented Email Lists

Omnivore is more aggressive with large lists, so your smaller lists will be less likely to get flagged. In truth, we strongly recommend segmenting your data, whether your email address list is new or old, to reduce the chances of receiving trigger warnings. 

4- Check Your Keywords

Although these shouldn’t be a problem, MailChimp flags emails with spam-trigger keywords. This off-course isn’t fair, but it can happen. 

To get around it, be sure to check your email against common spam-trigger words. The keywords might be mostly in the headline, but the body copy can be the culprit.

5- Check For Fishbowl Emails

Sometimes you run campaigns where people sign-up for particular discounts or offers. Usually, some are entirely after those prizes and not your content. So they tend to be unresponsive to your emails. Therefore, you need to get these emails off your list as continuously sending emails to them only costs you money with no results.

6- Be Wary Of Third-Party Lists

Buying or leasing lists from third parties create high chances of being flagged by Omnivore. These lists may contain spam and stale email addresses, increasing the risks of being suspended from the platform. Third parties are known for using questionable practices to collect emails. So this practice carries enormous consequences. 

The only way to control your email list quality is by acquiring the emails on your own.

7- Don’t Discard Your Mailing List

Naturally, importing a different email list may not trigger the Omnivore. This is why we’ve heard some people say throwing away the flagged list is the solution.

However, this is an extreme measure that is equally a costly move. Instead, invest in email verification software to validate your emails. You can also use other tactics on this list to screen and clean your lists.

Don’t get rid of underperforming emails the right way. Consider changing your strategies or sending a series of goodbye emails; you may have been using the wrong tactics to engage them.

Don’t also forget to make your unsubscribe link visible. This might seem counterproductive, but it isn’t good for your reputation if people can’t find that button when they need it. Complaints from disgruntled subscribers can affect you tremendously.

Concluding Thoughts

MailChimp Omnivore is fascinating and highly effective software against spam. But, you must always remember that Omnivore is an algorithm. So, why most of its warnings may be correct, it also has its fair share of false positives. 

But you must never ignore an Omnivore warning for any reason. Take the steps we’ve discussed to deal with it. Remember, your first line of defense against such errors would be investing in email verification software.

Consider using double-opt-ins seriously, as it is a cost-effective way to build a genuinely clean list. Don’t forget to invest in the right email validation software. 

Premier email verification software gets rid of more bad emails from your list. The right tool provides a straightforward and efficient fix and will decrease bounce rates. It will also protect your sender’s reputation and ensure that your message reaches your subscribers successfully.

Always remember that your data is an asset that you must care for. Invest in the right tools and take a step closer to achieving 100% email deliverability