New Year, new email changes, same best practices

A quick review of your email sending practices now can go a long way to ensuring business as usual when Gmail and Yahoo! update their email requirements in February.

In Q4 2023, Google and Yahoo! announced new requirements for email senders.  Starting in February those sending 5,000 messages per day or more, or approximately 150,000 messages per month, will need to mindful of these changes.

Positioned as a means of increasing protections for users against phishing attacks, other email scams, and spam in general, these changes are both welcomed by consumers and eyed with concern by marketers.  As a consumer I am all for increased protections, but as an email marketer I recognize that some of us will need to make changes, and all of us should use this as an opportunity to review current sending practices.

What was announced?

Starting in February, Google and Yahoo! will require email senders to do the following:

Authenticate your email.

  • Senders will be required to follow well-established authentication practices, most notably signing DKIM for their “from” domain.  DKIM is an authentication method that signals to the inbox providers that an email coming from your domain can be trusted.
  • While not called out in the announcement, you can establish an even greater level of trust with the following:
    • A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) enables the receiving mail server to verify that an email claiming to come from a specific domain is actually sent by an authorized IP address
    • DMARC allows you to create rules to tell ISPs how email should be treated if SPF and DKIM fail or are not present

Together these create the needed layers of security around email, establishing you as a trusted sender.

Offer an effortless unsubscribe experience. 

  • Known as a “one-click” unsubscribe, this is intended to remove the high-friction unsubscribe experience; often requiring multiple steps just to confirm you wish to stop receiving emails.
  • Starting in February, senders have to enable one-click unsubscribe AND process those requests within two days, so if you’re going to do a save play it will have to be executed in near real-time!

Ensure your emails are wanted.

  • While it seems obvious, there are a number of reasons that a willing subscriber may become less receptive to your emails – sending too frequently, less relevant content or offers, etc.  While many will simply unsubscribe, some may take to making a spam complaint, which will now be under even greater scrutiny.
  • Gmail and Yahoo!/AOL will require senders to stay under a 0.30% spam rate threshold, and ideally they want to see you below 0.10%.  This may mean some extra diligence on your part to ensure you are following best practices that contribute to having a good sending reputation.

Your Readiness Checklist

Review your current metrics – email engagement, bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, spam complaint rates, and review your sender score.   This is a good first step to understanding if you have work to do.

Review your overall email sending practices.  Among those items to consider are:

  • Is it easy to opt in?  A clear opt-in process, along with transparent language that communicates what a new subscriber will receive, helps set the right tone for engagement.
  • Are you sending a confirmation email?  Sending a “thank you for subscribing” message confirms that someone is subscribed, and it’s another opportunity to remind them what to expect from your emails.
  • Are your subscriber lists clean? Routinely validate the email addresses in your lists using services like Kickbox or ZeroBounce.  Too many hard bounces will have an effect on your sender reputation, so this simple step can save you from future sending issues.
  • Are you employing personalization?  Personalization using dynamic content or segmentation helps make your email campaigns highly relevant to each subscriber, keeping engagement high.
  • Can automation help?  Automation can also contribute to high engagement levels by sending timely communications at important moments in the customer journey.
  • Location matters.  Where you’re customers are located determines your need to be compliant with legislation like CAN-SPAM, GDPR, CCPA and other applicable laws.  At minimum, understand the basics related to opt-ins, unsubscribe requests, and handling of data.

Our team at Campaigner, and indeed those of other email service providers, have been actively communicating with Gmail and Yahoo! to better understand the potential impacts.  At Campaigner we’ve been actively communicating with our customers and supporting them in making any needed changes to ensure they can avoid any disruptions.

Added protection for consumers against increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks and email scams is a good thing.  That being said, any change comes with some adjustments, so make time to review your current sending practices and you’ll be ready to continue delivering great results with your email campaigns.