Active vs Deactive contacts

In Airship, you’ll see us refer to Active and Deactive contacts. What do we mean by this? Find out here.

Oskar Smith avatar
Written by Oskar Smith
Updated over a week ago

So what is the difference between the Active, Deactive and Total Contacts? Airship has some quite specific definitions in this regard, and some clever technology working away in the background to help keep your database clean.

Active vs Deactive contacts

Active contacts are records who have at least one active contact method, whether that be an email, mobile or postal method. 

Deactive contacts are the exact opposite of active contact records. They are contacts who do not have any active contact method.


Active vs Deactive contact methods

In the case of email and mobile contact methods, for that method to be considered ‘active’, it must carry an opt-in, have a valid record (e.g. not a blank or spurious email or mobile) and not be marked as ‘dead’.

In the case of postal contact records, the record must have an opt-in and have a valid address.

Here are some example scenarios to help explain further:

Total contacts

Where we refer to Total Contacts, this number is as it sounds; it represents the total number of contacts, regardless of whether they have any active or deactive contact method. In other words, if you sum the number of active and deactive contacts together, you get the total number of contacts.

What makes a contact method ‘dead’?

In the examples above, you’ll notice we refer to a contact method sometimes being ‘dead’. What do we mean by this?

Airship has automatic algorithms running which will help protect your database from having ‘bad’, uncontactable contact methods. The platform looks for failed broadcasts and will mark contact methods as ‘dead’ in certain scenarios.

Those scenarios are as follows:


An email address will be marked as ‘dead’ after we detect either 2 hard bounces or 6 soft bounces.


For SMS, if we detect more than 2 failed deliveries within a single week OR if the total number of failed deliveries reaches 7 fails in total, we mark that contact method as ‘dead’.

Further reading

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