Understanding Google & Yahoo's New Email Authenticity Requirements

Person at a conference table checking their email on a laptop

February 8, 2024

An estimated 4.4 billion people use email, making it the primary communication channel for many businesses. However, with increasing spam threats, marketers must constantly keep up with best sending practices. This includes the most recent changes from Google and Yahoo which went into effect on February 1, 2024, requiring mass email senders to ensure proper authentication, easy opt-out, and meeting spam complaint thresholds. Below is a breakdown of the new policies and the steps companies need to take to ensure their email deliverability is not impacted.

What is a bulk sender? 

As defined by Google and Yahoo, a bulk or mass email sender is any individual or organization that sends more than 5,000 messages to Gmail or Yahoo users in one day. The purpose of these updates is to combat fraudulent emails, reduce spam and give users more control of their inboxes. 

Many bulk senders don’t appropriately secure and configure their systems, allowing attackers to easily hide in their midst. To help fix that, we’ve focused on a crucial aspect of email security: the validation that a sender is who they claim to be.  - Neil Kumaran, Google Product Manager

That said, even if your company’s subscriber base is less than 5,000 emails, it’s wise to comply with these requirements, that way you stay out of spam folders and maintain a high ROI on email campaigns.

How to comply with Yahoo and Google’s new email-sending rules 

Failing to implement these new requirements may result in increased bounce rates and delayed or non-delivery of emails. To avoid impacting email performance, follow these guidelines:  

1. Authenticate emails 

Under the new rules, all bulk email senders will need to verify their email address and identity using the following authentication protocols: 

  • Sender policy framework (SPF): This helps prevent domain spoofing by allowing senders to identify the email servers that are allowed to send emails from their domain. 
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM): This adds a digital signature to outgoing email, which verifies the message was sent by an authorized sender and wasn’t tampered with along the way.  
  • Domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance (DMARC): DMARC allows domain owners to specify which actions to take when an email fails authentication. It also enables reporting on email authentication results. 

Both platforms require bulk senders to set up all three of these protocols. Emails that fail authentication may end up in recipients' spam folders – or worse, blocked altogether.  

2. Make unsubscribing easy 

All emails sent through a subscriber list will need to include a clearly visible “unsubscribe” link to allow recipients to easily opt-out at any time. According to a recent study, over 45% of people unsubscribe from email lists due to irrelevant content or too high an email frequency. To avoid losing engaging customers and potential leads, businesses will need to segment their email lists and personalize content for individual audiences. Sending too many emails, especially if they are not highly targeted, may lead to higher unsubscribe rates under these new policies.  

3. Keep a low spam rate 

Bulk senders must keep their spam rate below 0.10% and avoid reaching 0.30% or higher, according to Google. Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy for a user to report an email as spam. It all comes down to the perception of the user and the value they think your email provides them. Reassess your email strategy and consider the following:  

  • Has everyone on your distribution list opted in to receive emails from you? Do not send marketing emails to those individuals who entered their email for an isolated action like a form for resources or webinars. Restrict your mailing list to those who subscribed to emails specifically.  
  • Do your emails include an unsubscribe link? Make sure to have a straightforward way out. If recipients can’t easily unsubscribe, their next available action will be to mark your emails as spam instead.  
  • Are your emails easily recognizable? Make sure your content and design are in line with your branding so your audience immediately knows who the email is from.  
  • Are you sending too many emails? If you think you might be, consider readjusting your sending schedules and frequency. Recipients could easily get annoyed if you’re filling up their inbox every week, especially at inconvenient times.  

4. Validate regularly  

Outside of the above guidelines, businesses should remember to verify their email lists each quarter, as a minimum. With regular checks in place, you can remove invalid recipients, figure out why emails have failed, and update emails for users on a more consistent basis. Email lists depreciate about 23%, yearly, so get ahead of the curve and focus on who truly wants to hear from you.  

These changes are like a tune-up for the email world, and by fixing a few things under the hood, we can keep email running smoothly. But just like a tune-up, this is not a one-time exercise. Keeping email more secure, user friendly and spam-free requires constant collaboration and vigilance from the entire email community.  -Kumaran

Conclusion  

To prepare for the email changes provided by Google and Yahoo, B2B businesses should audit their current email practices to ensure recipients are receiving the safest and most relevant forms of communication. With a few adjustments, businesses can continue to use email as an effective way to inform and engage their audience, even as the landscape shifts. Overall, the new requirements aim to benefit both senders and recipients by improving the email experience. 

 

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