To provide safer, spam-free inboxes, Google is implementing new regulations for bulk email senders (over 5,000 emails per day) beginning February 2024. The updated rules are geared toward three major areas: email authentication, an easy way to unsubscribe, and maintaining a spam rating below Google’s threshold. Furthermore, Yahoo is also implementing similar standards in the first quarter of 2024.
However, Google’s new rules have been best practices for a long time and are the foundation of improving email deliverability. Therefore, every business should implement these practices for every email domain, even those not used to send bulk email.
In this video, we show you how to check your email domain for SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and more.
Requirements for Authentication: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
Businesses need to identify and authenticate their email domains. This involves running an inventory check on all the emails sent by various teams across the organization and not just marketing efforts. Businesses must ensure that all email domains are properly authenticated using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols.
Be aware that email domains can be different from the website domain. It is not unusual for larger and more sophisticated companies to send emails from multiple domains, not just their website domain. This is especially true for companies doing cold email marketing.
Use EasyDMARC to Check if SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are Set Up
EasyDMARC has free tools to check if SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are set up for your domain. See our video above to watch how to use the tools at EasyDMARC.
If SPF or DKIM is not set up for your domain, you can get these settings from your email provider and add them to your domain’s DNS. So, for example, if your domain is registered at GoDaddy, you’ll add the settings at GoDaddy. Furthermore, if you use one of the better domain registrars, like GoDaddy, their support agents will help you.
If DMARC is not set up for your domain, you can use EasyDMARC’s free tool to generate the setting, then add the record to your domain’s DNS.
You Must Use a Custom Sending Domain
Because domains must have a DMARC policy, all email senders must have a custom sending domain, for example, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, this applies to email addresses sending more than 5,000 bulk emails per day. However, this has been the best practice for a long time, and everyone should follow this practice for the highest deliverability.
If you use a free sending domain provided by your CRM or other provider, when people receive your email, the sending address will look something like: email@example.com.
Email Address Validation
Businesses should validate email addresses before sending emails. This involves confirming that an email address exists and is active. Email verification tools, which are built into many CRMs, verify that email addresses are actively receiving emails to ensure the accuracy and quality of your email list. This practice reduces bounce rates, improves deliverability, and protects your sender reputation.
Email validation bolsters the chances of your messages landing in the recipient’s inbox.
Standards for Users to Easily Unsubscribe
Under Google’s new guidelines, bulk email senders are mandated to integrate a one-click unsubscribe feature into their emails. This action affirms the principle of providing direct control to email recipients over their inboxes. On receiving an email, the recipient must be able to stop unwanted messages from a particular sender with a single click. Moreover, the senders are required to respect the unsubscription requests and process them within two days. Google has anchored this rule by leveraging open standards to ensure a broad benefit for email users.
Besides having an unsubscribe link in the body of the email that is viewable to users, best practice is to include a list-unsubscribe header in the source code. This snippet of code tells email service provides like Gmail the unsubscribe link, which they may use to help users unsubscribe more easily.
Understanding the Spam Rate Threshold Requirement
Another pivotal change in Google’s February 2024 updated guidelines concerns monitoring and managing spam rates. Google’s Postmaster Tools stipulate that bulk senders must maintain a reported spam rate under 0.10%. The rate represents the percentage of outgoing messages flagged as spam by recipients.
The aim is to create email content perceived as valuable by the receiver, preventing them from marking the emails as spam. Implementing email preferences, allowing contacts to select and manage the type of email communication they desire, is highly encouraged as it can reduce spam rates and increase engagement.
Email marketing teams, therefore, must pay attention to their rate and frequency of sending emails, in addition to all factors that trigger spam complaints. If your spam complaint rate hits or crosses the 0.3% line, Google will likely block your emails, so appropriate spam management is crucial.
Consequences of Non-Compliance
As mentioned earlier, every business should implement these email deliverability standards, even if they do not send bulk email. The consequence of not implementing the standards is lower email deliverability.
However, failure to meet Google’s new guidelines could have more serious implications for companies sending bulk emails. These may include a significant increase in email bounces, lower email deliverability rates, a decrease in click transparency, and potential blocking of your domain from landing in Gmail inboxes – all of which can severely impact communication, lead generation, and overall business performance.
Email authentication, one-click unsubscribe options, and maintaining low spam rates are foundational principles of email deliverability. If your company does not have these already implemented, use this as an opportunity to increase the quality of your email marketing.
Maintaining these standards is not just about staying in sync with policy changes. They are also about demonstrating respect for the recipient’s inbox, maintaining a positive sender reputation, ensuring deliverability, and engaging more effectively with your audience.