Google and Yahoo are introducing new email requirements that could have a significant impact on your email marketing campaigns.
The requirements, which are focused on improving deliverability and preventing spam, are becoming mandatory beginning in April 2024. However, taking action now is important since Google has already started issuing temporary errors for emails that don’t meet requirements.
If you’re regularly emailing your donors, customers, or others, not meeting these requirements could impact your email deliverability. As a result, your emails might not reach your audience.
In this guide, we’ll quickly explain who will be impacted, provide a checklist of action items, and recommend best practices for emailing moving forward.
Who does this impact?
The new email compliance requirements affect senders who are either:
- Using a branded email domain (for example: firstname.lastname@example.org) to send emails, or
- Sending over 5,000 emails a day
The limit of 5,000 emails a day includes all kinds of emails – from internal emails to emails sent to customers. The total adds up even if you distribute them over multiple sends.
If you have a large list of prospects and customers, it’s safe to assume the new requirements will impact your email marketing campaigns.
What are the new requirements?
We should mention that the requirements set by Google and Yahoo aren’t legally binding. Instead, they are to remain in good standing with them.
On the other hand, CASL (in Canada) and the CAN-SPAM Actact (in the US) that do carry legal ramifications for non-compliance.
To illustrate the differences, here’s a comparison between Google and Yahoo’s requirements and the legal frameworks.
|Google & Yahoo 2024 Policies
|Required: Implement SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for domains sending more than 5,000 emails per day.
|Not explicitly required, but the email sender’s identity must be accurate and not misleading.
|Not explicitly required, but measures to prevent email spoofing and ensure sender authenticity are recommended.
|Enhanced: Must include a prominent and easily accessible unsubscribe link in every bulk email.
|Mandatory: Must provide a clear and simple mechanism for opting out that takes effect within 10 days.
|Mandatory: Must include a clear and conspicuous way to opt out of future emails that is effective for at least 30 days after sending.
|Spam Complaint Rate
|Low Threshold: Maintain below 0.1%, with temporary spikes not to exceed 0.3%.
|Not specified, but CASL focuses on consent and prohibits sending unsolicited emails.
|Not specified, but the focus is on banning false or misleading header information and deceptive subject lines.
|Aligns with anti-spam laws, enhancing compliance and user protection.
|Compliance is mandatory, with severe penalties for violation, emphasizing consent for commercial electronic messages.
|Compliance is mandatory, with specific requirements on content, opt-out mechanisms, and transmission behavior, including penalties for violations.
Keep spam rate low
The most significant new requirement is a hard limit on spam rate – the percentage of emails that get reported as spam by recipients.
The rate must consistently stay under 0.1% and never exceed 0.3%.
For instance, if you are sending 1,000 emails, only 3 have to be reported as spam for you to hit the upper threshold.
Verify your domain
If you’re sending a high volume of emails, you need to verify your domain using SPF and DKIM.
Both of these help prove that you are a trusted sender and keep your emails out of spam.
SPF (Sender Policy Framework)
SPF protects against people trying to impersonate you.
Think of it like a guard at a gate. When an email arrives, SPF checks the sender’s identity and matches it to an approved list. If it’s a match, the email is let in. If not, it’s marked as spam or flagged as suspicious.
You need an entry in that approved list for each sender trusted to email on your behalf. For example, if you’re using Hubspot, you’ll add an entry for it in your SPF records.
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
DKIM acts as a digital seal of approval for your emails.
Just like you’d add a signature to a letter, it signs your emails to prove they’re from you. If someone tries to tamper with the email while it’s on its way, DKIM detects it and notifies email providers. They then stop the email and mark it as spam.
To recap, SPF and DKIM are both essential for ensuring the authenticity of emails. SPF verifies the sender’s identity by checking their IP address against an approved list, while DKIM digitally signs each message to prevent tampering.
Together, they protect against email fraud and impersonation.
Set up DMARC for your domain
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) offers an extra layer of protection against email spoofing and phishing attacks.
DMARC verifies emails by checking SPF and DKIM records, helps you set up rules for what happens to emails that don’t pass authentication checks, and provides reports to monitor and improve email security.
Make it easy to unsubscribe
Every marketing and subscription email will be required to have a one-click unsubscribe link, starting in June 2024.
Previously, many businesses got away with this requirement by making the link hard to read or hard to find. That’s why Google and Yahoo now say that the link must be clearly visible.
Once you get an unsubscribe request, it also has to be processed within 2 days.
Now that you know what the requirements are, here is a list of action items you need to check off to make sure you comply.
Action items to comply with the new requirements:
- Add SPF records
- Turn on DKIM for your domain.
- Check if you have valid DMARC records here. If you don’t, follow these guides.
- Sign up to Google’s Postmaster Tools. Then follow this guide to monitor your spam rate.
What happens if you don’t follow the new requirements?
There are severe consequences for not following the new requirements.
Google and Yahoo will flag non-compliant emails and they will end up in the spam folder and lower your deliverability. If you don’t take action, all your emails will get blocked.
It’s important to note that although these requirements will be mandatory from April 2024, Google has already begun issuing temporary errors for a small percentage of non-compliant emails.
From April 2024, the company will start rejecting a percentage of non-compliant emails and that percentage will increase over time.
In a support page, Google said, “For example, if 75% of a sender’s traffic meets our requirements, we’ll start rejecting a percentage of the remaining 25% of traffic that isn’t compliant.”
If you’re managing promotional campaigns, customer engagement initiatives, or sending newsletters, it significantly impacts how much revenue your business generates from email marketing.
Best practices to follow for sending emails
The new requirements by Google and Yahoo, particularly the one limiting spam rate, are going to drastically change email marketing. Previously, businesses could still deliver results while ignoring best practices, but that is going to be extremely unlikely now.
To make sure your emails stay out of spam folders, we recommend the following best practices. If you don’t follow them, you risk lowering your deliverability and the success of your email campaigns.
- Make it useful: Make sure you have a compelling reason for sending any email and the info is useful to your subscribers. Don’t forget to use tools like Grammarly to improve the grammar and flow. Here are 14 more tips to craft an effective email.
- Maintain clean email lists: Create email segments for both inactive & unsubscribed contacts. That ensures you never accidentally email them – lowering your bounce rates as well as spam complaints, and keeping your deliverability high. You can read this guide for more details.
- Check your email frequency: Maintain a list of email touchpoints with prospects and customers. If you’re sending too many emails, they are far more likely to get marked as spam. This guide from Hubspot has more details.
- Implement double opt-in: Make sure only interested people get your emails. You can do that by sending a confirmation email to new subscribers. More here.
- Segment your email lists: Not every subscriber will find each email relevant. Segment your email lists based on preferences and engagement to target your messages. This ensures that people can customize the emails they get based on their preferences, and an unsubscribe request doesn’t suddenly completely take them off your email list. Zapier goes into detail on why and how to segment here.
- Personalize emails: People are far less likely to mark an email as spam if they think it’s relevant to their interests. Personalizing your email content and subject lines is a good way to do that and it also helps boost engagement. Need inspiration? Here are some good examples of personalized emails.
- Avoid deceptive subject lines: Use honest subject lines that accurately reflect the content of your email. Deceptive or misleading subject lines can lead to spam complaints. Use this guide for writing effective subject lines.
- Optimize for mobile: With the majority of emails being accessed on mobile phones, it’s important to ensure that your email templates are mobile-responsive and provide a good user experience. Follow these tips for making sure your emails look great on smaller screens.
- Educate subscribers: Inform your subscribers about the strict spam rate requirements. Encourage them to check their spam folders for legitimate emails and mark them as “Not Spam”.
By following the guides above and the best practices recommendations, you improve your odds of maintaining a healthy email-sending reputation, strong deliverability rates, and reduce the chances of your emails being flagged as spam.
Reach out to your Customer Success Manager if you have any questions. We’re committed to supporting you every step of the way to ensure your fundraising programs continue to thrive.