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New Policies Affect Email Marketing Starting Feb. 2024: Is Your Team Ready?

Did you know that almost half of the emails we get are spam? Marketing emails take the cake, making up a whopping 36% of the clutter

Gmail is taking action to mitigate these rates. Starting February 2024, Gmail will have some new rules to protect its 1.8 billion active users. So if your marketing emails are sent to subscribers that are part of the 22.22% of the world’s population using Google’s mail service (ahem, they are, we guarantee it), you may need to make some changes. 

Not every marketing effort is affected. But accounts that are firing 5,000 emails a day or more will need to authenticate emails, offer one-click unsubscribe, and stay under a reported spam threshold. 

In this blog post, we will break down the three must-do moves for your team to stay compliant with these new rules and help create a safer, more effective email marketing environment. 

Gmail New Policies Affect Email Marketing Starting

Action #1 - Set Up Email Authentication

Email authentication is crucial. It verifies the legitimacy of the sender and ensures that recipients can trust the source. In doing so, it reduces the risk of phishing, fraud, and malicious activities. 

Google's latest requirement for bulk senders mandates a robust authentication process for their emails, including a comprehensive verification of the sender’s identity. It’s a pivotal move to enhance the overall security of digital communication.

Without getting to too granular, here's the quick guide for companies:

1. Set Up SPF or DKIM Email Authentication

To authenticate your emails, set up Sender Policy Framework (SPF)  or DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). SPF specifies which servers are authorized to send emails on your behalf, while DKIM adds a digital signature to verify the sender's identity. Both are crucial for establishing trust in your email communications. Think of SPF or DKIM as your email's secret handshake, verifying its legitimacy from the get-go. Read Google’s email authentication requirements & recommendations for more information.

2. Ensure Valid Forward and Reverse DNS Records (PTR Records)

Validate your email's legitimacy by ensuring your sending domains or IPs have valid forward and reverse DNS records, commonly known as PTR records. Think of it as providing a clear and verifiable ID card for your emails. You can get into the weeds here.

3. Use a TLS Connection for Transmitting Email

Secure your email's journey by employing Transport Layer Security (TLS) for transmission. This encryption protocol safeguards your message from potential eavesdroppers, ensuring a secure and private communication channel between the sender and the recipient. Enabling TLS adds an extra layer of protection to your emails. Get the details here

By adhering to these authentication steps, you're not only meeting Google's standards but also signaling to the world that you’re committed to secure and trustworthy communications.

Action #2 - Streamlining Unsubscribes with a User-Friendly Approach

Dealing with an onslaught of unwanted emails is nobody's idea of a good time. Even worse is the time it takes to stop the email madness, unsubscribing in a different, manual, multi-click way from each unwanted email you get. Google gets it. They are requiring that those sending out 5,000 messages a day make unsubscribing a breeze by implementing a one-click unsubscribe functionality. Plus, they want large senders to process these unsubscription requests within a speedy two-day timeframe. 

Some platforms, like Hubspot, already require a one-step unsubscribe option in the footer, so you might already be set. But, if you believe you still need to set it up, you can check out Google’s instructions here under the “Make it easy to unsubscribe” section. 

To set up one-click unsubscribe, Google provides the following code to include in headers in outgoing messages. You may want to solicit a web developer’s help for this part!

List-Unsubscribe-Post: List-Unsubscribe=One-Click

Action #3 - Maintain a Low Spam Rate

The common issue of spam overwhelming email inboxes has been a persistent challenge for users, cluttering communication channels and posing security risks. 

To address this, Google is introducing an industry-first approach. They’ll be enforcing a clear spam rate threshold requirement for email senders. Companies must keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10% on average and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher. This threshold is designed to set a standard that compels senders to adhere to responsible email practices and significantly reduce the influx of unwanted messages. 

Here are a few tips for maintaining a below-threshold spam rate:

  • Start with a low sending volume to engaged users, and slowly increase the volume over time. As you increase the sending volume, keep a watchful eye on server responses, spam rates, and your sending domain's reputation as you increase the volume.

  • Regularly monitor results so you can quickly adapt if your sending is rate limited,  if the spam rate is increased, or when the sending domain's reputation drops. You can monitor your domain’s reputation with Postmaster Tools.

  • Keep it simple—only send emails to people who genuinely want to hear from you. By targeting a willing audience, you reduce the likelihood of your messages being flagged as spam.

By adopting these proactive steps—fortifying email authentication, simplifying unsubscribe processes, and maintaining a low spam rate—you safeguard the resilience of email as a medium of reliable communication. 

Take this as an opportunity to revisit your email marketing programs and ensure that they’re providing personalized and highly relevant value to contacts in every single email sent. 

Need a hand personalizing emails and ensuring compliance? We’ve got you covered.

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