Google and Yahoo have partnered in an effort to combat spam, scamming and and phishing attacks, creating a new set of guidelines to be followed to ensure emails to be delivered to email inboxes.
While these best practices have been around for years, they are now mandatory as of February 1, 2024. Not complying will result in your emails going to the spam box or being blocked altogether.
Even though these new rules apply to those sending more than 5,000 daily emails to Gmail and Yahoo users, we have seen much smaller emailers get blocked as well, so it is best to follow these guidelines to avoid troubles.
And if you think you’re safe because you are not emailing to company emails only, keep in mind that many organizations use Gmail services as their email client.
The Key Points
In a nutshell, there are the three key points you need to address:
- Authenticate your emails
- Keep spam complaints under 0.3%
- Provide one-click unsubscribe
Let’s unpack these rules and what needs to be done to ensure deliverability.
Authenticate Your Emails
Google and Yahoo want you to verify that you are the source of emails sent from your domain. This prevents email hacking, where a hacker gets a hold of your email address and starts sending mass emails with it. This happened to us a while back. One of our emails was hacked and we only found out when we started receiving complaints which were replies to the hacked email.
To authenticate your emails, implement SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) protocols to prevent domain spoofing, a tactic often exploited by cybercriminals and haven’t been tampered with, ensuring email security and trust.
This is done at the domain level, adding a TXT record in the DNS domain settings. If you are using an email marketing provider you will find instructions on how to do this on their support documentation.
Keep Spam Complaints Low
Keep spam complaints under 0.3 % (as measured by Google’s postmaster tools). Getting more than 3 reports for every 1,000 emails you send and your emails will get flagged as unsolicited or fraudulent and your campaigns may start going to spam.
Following basic steps like enabling double opt-in, verifying email lists, and cleaning up old/inactive email addresses, among others, will help in avoiding spam complaints.
Provide one-click unsubscribe
All reputable email marketing providers have this built in their systems but if you are sending bulk emails in any other way that doesn’t allow the recipient to opt out, you need to address that.
Additionally, Google and Yahoo requires email marketing senders to honor unsubscribes within two days. Reputable providers such as Zoho Campaigns and MailChimp adhere to this requirement.
What About Anti-Spam Laws?
Every country has their own laws regarding mass promotional emails. In the U.S.the regulatory authority is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),
The CAN-SPAM Act
Passed in 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) is a U.S. law that regulates commercial emails and communications businesses, marketers, and nonprofits send.
These are the key provisions that companies must adhere to when sending promotional emails:
- Clearly identify emails as advertisements.
- Use truthful and non-deceptive information in all email header fields (from, to, subject line, and date)
- Subject lines should accurately reflect the content of the email.
- Provide a clear and easy way to unsubscribe.
- Monitor and honor opt-out requests within 10 business days.
- Include a valid postal address in all emails.
- Ensure compliance with the act for third-party emails sent on your behalf.
What Happens if I Don’t Do Anything?
As a distributor business, it’s your responsibility to stay informed and compliant with laws and regulations to ensure effective email marketing campaigns that get delivered and earn the respect and trust of your email recipients.
If your company fails to implement email authentication measures, has spam complaints rates above 0.3%, and don’t provide a clear visible opt-out link, your emails may end up in the spam box or blocked altogether.
This includes emails sent directly and not through the email system, if the domain is flagged by Google or Yahoo.