Starting from February 1, 2024, new rules imposed by Gmail will affect everyone who sends marketing and transactional emails. Yahoo will establish similar regulations in the first quarter of 2024. In both cases, these measures aim to reduce the number of unwanted emails in customers’ inboxes and make email communication more transparent and secure. So, let’s see what these new email marketing requirements from Gmail and Yahoo mean and how to overcome possible obstacles.
Whom Does the Change Affect?
According to Yahoo, the change affects all email senders. In the case of Gmail, domains sending fewer than 5000 emails per day have slightly fewer requirements (for example, DMARC is not mandatory), but most email marketing requirements apply to all senders. We recommend adopting higher standards immediately because reaching 5000 emails a day is relatively easy, considering that this includes all emails sent from one domain: internal communications, customer communications, all automated notifications, and marketing emails.
What Changes from February 1, 2024?
Both Gmail and Yahoo have outlined a set of requirements that all email senders must meet for their emails to be delivered to Gmail and Yahoo mailboxes. Failure to meet these requirements gives both the right to either place emails in the spam folder or reject them altogether. While some of the requirements apply to service providers (domain administrators, email software, etc.), each sender must address certain requirements individually.
1. Ensure that your domain, from which you send emails, has configured SPF, DKIM, and DMARC email authentication. These records confirm that you genuinely authorize the emails sent from your domain. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) prevents spammers from sending unauthorized messages that appear to be from your domain. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) verifies that the domain owner sent the message. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance) lets you tell receiving servers what to do with messages from your domain that don’t pass SPF or DKIM. All three records together ensure that no one can maliciously send emails from your domain.
For Smaily users, we have always recommended configuring SPF and DKIM as they improve email deliverability. Additionally, from February onwards, setting up a DMARC record is mandatory if you send more than 5000 emails per day to Gmail and Google Workspace addresses (including marketing, automated, and regular communication emails). We do not recommend waiting since Yahoo requires DMARC from the first email.
2. Gmail addresses can no longer be used in email marketing software to send marketing emails because these emails will now go to the spam folder (Gmail will begin using a DMARC quarantine enforcement policy). Small businesses have previously found it easy to use email addresses like “firstname.lastname@example.org” for their operations. While these email addresses can still be used for regular business communication, sending offers or marketing emails through email marketing platforms is no longer possible.
3. Stricter criteria for marking emails as spam will be applied—specifically, the spam rate must remain below 0.1% of all emails sent daily. If this rate consistently exceeds 0.3%, even your other emails (notifications, invoices, etc.) are more likely to end up in the spam folder, and Gmail will not assist domain owners facing this issue. You can see the spam rate or complaints under the statistics on Smaily for each campaign and automation. Additionally, you can set up Google Postmaster Tools (if you send several thousand emails per day) to show the rate of emails marked as spam in Gmail inboxes.
In addition to the new email marketing requirements, the platforms have provided new recommendations for sending emails, which we will discuss in the second part of this article.
How do I Comply With these Email Marketing Requirements?
If you have already configured all DNS settings (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) and use a registered domain for sending emails, most of the work is done. However, if your settings are incomplete or you currently use a Gmail address for sending emails, you need to make some changes before February.
If You Have Not Set up SPF, DKIM, or DMARC Email Authentication for Your Domain
Suppose you must still set up SPF and DKIM records for your domain that references Smaily. In that case, your email may not appear trustworthy to the receiving mail server and the recipient because the sender is the email marketing platform, not your brand. Configured records indicate that you allow Smaily to send emails on your behalf, and this is not malicious activity.
DMARC authentication helps Gmail and Yahoo decide how you, as the domain owner, want emails sent on your behalf (spam or emails that do not meet the configured SPF and DKIM records) to be handled. Options include allowing emails to be sent, placing emails in quarantine (spam), or not delivering emails to the inbox at all. To configure these settings, log in to your domain host’s (like GoDaddy, Zone, or Veebimajutus) administration interface. Instructions for setting up SPF and DKIM for the Smaily platform are here. Instructions for configuring DMARC can be found on Zone’s website.
If you Currently Use a Gmail Email Address to Send Marketing Emails
Starting from February 1, 2024, Gmail prohibits sending marketing emails through the platform using Gmail email addresses, and any such emails sent will go to the spam folder. You can still send regular emails from your mailbox.
To resolve this situation, you have two options:
a) If you want to continue sending marketing emails from your Gmail address, we will change the sender address in the platform so that it would appear as if Smaily has sent the email. Unfortunately, customers cannot respond to your marketing emails in this case, as their replies may not reach your inbox.
b) Use an existing or register a new domain and send marketing emails from that email address. Zone and Veebimajutus offer favorable conditions for registering a new domain for Smaily clients! Familiarize yourself with both offers here!
Recommendations from Gmail and Yahoo for Sending Emails
In addition to the strict email marketing requirements, which, if not met, may result in penalties, both Gmail and Yahoo have provided many advice that email senders should follow for marketing emails.
The most important ones include:
- Make subscribing and unsubscribing from newsletters easy. Send emails only to those who have given consent. Both Yahoo and Gmail recommend using double opt-in, ensuring that no one is added to the contact list without their explicit consent. The option to unsubscribe should also be easy to find in the email.
- Maintain your contact list. Gmail suggests periodically confirming consent to receive marketing emails and considering unsubscribing contacts who do not open emails.
- Links in the email should be visible and easily understandable. The customer should understand what happens when they click on the link.
- Email subject lines should be clear and not misleading to the customer.
- Do not use purchased contact lists.
- Do not include sales messages in transactional emails. For example, do not add discount offers to purchase confirmation emails.
- Gmail recommends using certain email addresses in case you send both marketing and transactional emails. For example, use email@example.com for marketing emails and firstname.lastname@example.org for purchase confirmation emails. If you use multiple IPs, use a different IP address for each message type.
Despite the increasing prevalence of alternative communication methods, email remains one of the most popular ways to communicate with business and private clients. Considering the growing volume of spam globally, it is understandable that email service providers are tightening their email marketing requirements to combat spam and phishing attempts. Both Gmail and Yahoo want their email service users’ inboxes to be free from unwanted emails, and thus, they have implemented higher requirements for sending emails. These rules also protect your domain from being maliciously exploited, so take advantage of them as soon as possible!