A summary of Google and Yahoo's announcement
At the beginning of October 2023, Google and Yahoo announced that starting February 2024 a new set of requirements on bulk senders (>5,000 per day) would be enacted.
The announcements, while technically different in some ways for Google and Yahoo, share three focal points:
Verify identity by authenticating your email traffic
Make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe
Only send relevant and requested content
Over the years, these three elements have been the foundation of deliverability best practices.
In the past, these best practices were able to be ignored and circumvented to a degree but not anymore.
Why is this happening?
Email has been forced to evolve yet again, and it is because the world is full of spammers and scammers.
Google alone advises that they block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails every day.
While you’re out here trying to simply get a few more eyes on your products, there are millions of spammers and scammers ruining the email ecosystem so that average, everyday senders like yourself have to jump through more hoops to validate yourself.
It’s frustrating but also something that will never go away.
It’s also important to note that many average marketers tend to invoke practices on the spammier side of the spectrum. Their actions may not seem terrible or spammy from their perspective but when thousands or millions of companies are doing the same thing to the same recipients it starts to add up.
So, yes, this is necessary, really necessary; and it’s actually not that big of an ask.
An overview of the new requirements in place
As mentioned above, the requirements here are mostly not new. Deliverability professionals have been spouting this advice for years because these practices make everything better for everyone.
Let’s dig into them.
(NOTE: Some of the new technical requirements are for email-sending platforms rather than general users of said platforms, like email marketers. Most sending platforms, including Ortto, already have such setups enabled so it is not being covered in this writeup as it is unnecessary. If you would like more information on the requirements placed on providers, you can read through them here)
The largest changes being enforced upon the individual senders themselves.
As a marketer, Gmail and Yahoo are forcing you to do the following:
Never use a google address (gmail.com, googlemail.com) to send bulk mail from a sending platform
Work with your IT team to authenticate your sending domain with DKIM and SPF alignment (Definitions can be found in the Glossary of our free Deliverability ebook)
Work with your IT team to set up a DMARC record on your domain with at least a “p=none” policy in place (Learn more about DMARC from Google here)
Work with your IT team to set up your domain on Google’s free Postmaster Tool
Google provides a DNS record for you to verify ownership of your domain so only those that are authorized can see its reputation with Google
This tool allows you to monitor stats for your domain in relationship to Google’s user feedback
Maintain a less than .3% complaint rate
You can see your Yahoo complaints in your sending platform but will need access to Google’s Postmaster Tool to be able to monitor that for Google subscribers
I will talk more below about how to maintain that low complaint threshold below
For any customized unsubscribe processes, make sure nothing further is required beyond a confirmation click
Once they click “Unsubscribe” in the email, they should only have to click a confirmation button. Do not gate unsubscribes by requiring they type an email address or login or select another setting. You can provide a Preference Update option on the confirmation page but the confirmation button should default to a full-unsubscribe option
The guide to email deliverability
A simple to-do list for email marketers
Let’s simplify things to help you meet the requirements more easily:
Work with your IT team to set up SPF and DKIM for all mail streams and to set up a DMARC record and Google’s Postmaster Tool for your domain
Update all signup sources to include some form of CAPTCHA for bot-protection
Update all signup sources to clearly outline content opt-in options without requiring opt-in due to some form of gate, like a giveaway or a gated article
Keep your lists organized so that you are only sending relevant content to each subscriber
Regularly remove long-term unengaged subscribers (>12 months since last open)
Make your unsubscribe link easy and visible in the content
See? It’s a little less overwhelming than it appears.
All of the above have been staples of great deliverability in the past.
Where they were once what only top senders did, it will now be an industry standard, and that’s fantastic for everyone!
However, some people will feel overwhelmed by this and will, either intentionally or unintentionally, test the effects of not following these requirements.
What happens if you don’t follow these requirements?
Globally, Gmail is the number one free-email service, usually making up between 40-60% of subscribers on a B2C sender’s list worldwide, and a top three B2B mailbox provider. Yahoo is also among the top three for global representation on a B2C sender’s list.
What you can expect then is that starting February 2024 (if not before) your open engagement metrics will begin to drop as emails for subscribers at these providers will begin to land in the spam folder more and more.
Because Gmail and Yahoo’s reputation-ranking system for senders is also based on subscriber engagement and the engagement has plummeted, it will create a snowball effect where you will quickly begin to have issues even delivering emails to these providers.
You wouldn’t even be able to get into the spam folder, let alone the inbox.
As with other email evolutions in the past, these requirements will start to catch on with other mailbox providers around the world so senders not following these requirements have mass difficulties delivering to their subscribers at providers around the globe.
Those who don’t follow these requirements will begin to see open rates plummet, conversions plummet, and, eventually, be unable to reliably deliver their marketing mail to recipients at these providers.
The truth of the matter is that mailbox providers hold all the cards.
That’s how it’s always been, and that’s how it’s always going to be.
So save yourself the trouble and follow the advice here so that, come February first, you don’t have to worry about deliverability issues for your marketing campaigns.