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Gmail & Yahoo have New Email Authentication Requirements: What senders need to know

Email giants Gmail and Yahoo recently announced updated guidelines for email senders, which set to take effect in early 2024. What were once commonly understood best practices will be upgraded into full-blown requirements, and failure to meet the stated criteria could lead to emails being rejected. These changes might seem daunting, but fear not—you’ll already be familiar with many of the listed items and may just need to ensure some extra checks and balances.

KEY SUMMARY

By February 2024, bulk senders (those who send more than 5,000 messages per day) targeting Gmail addresses must adhere to three critical requirements:

  1. Authenticate their email
  2. Enable easy unsubscribes
  3. Ensure they’re sending wanted email

Although these new requirements apply specifically to bulk senders, all email marketing senders stand to benefit from improving their email hygiene.

What’s behind these changes?

Did you know that Gmail’s AI-powered defenses stop over 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware from reaching inboxes and block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails daily? You read that right: 15 billion! And the threats are becoming more complex and pressing than ever.

Industry partners, including Yahoo and Google, are actively working together to make these changes the new industry standard to maintain a secure, user-friendly, and spam-free environment. The aim is simple: to make sure that email is a safe and enjoyable experience for all users. We’re here for that! 

First, a quick primer on email authentication.

Email authentication is a fancy industry term for the way your email makes sure that the senders of emails are actually who they claim to be. You’ve probably seen phishing messages that, for example, claim to be from Apple, but when you click in to see the actual email address of the sender, it’s clearly not a legitimate account at the real Apple. That’s a nefarious example—there are other very common, and totally benign, examples of emails that aren’t actually sent by the listed sender.

For example, if you use a service like ActiveCampaign to send bulk emails, you need to go through a process to have the emails come from your domain (rather than theirs). That process involves adding some code to your domain name that gives ActiveCampaign permission to send emails using it. If you don’t complete the process, your emails will have a line of text in the header saying they were sent via one of ActiveCampaign’s servers. Authenticating your email domain for your bulk email provider has long been a best practice to help improve deliverability and build your brand. Those days are quickly coming to an end.

1. Authentication is now non-negotiable

The key message from both Gmail and Yahoo is clear: authentication is no longer optional for bulk senders. While SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) may sound like skip-over-it tech jargon, they are your ticket to ensuring your emails land in inboxes. In simple terms, these protocols verify your identity as a sender, preventing malicious actors from exploiting your resources. From 2024 onward, you’ll need to ensure your emails are authenticated by implementing these industry standards.

2. Recipients must be able to unsubscribe with ease

No one should have to jump through hoops to stop receiving unwanted messages from a particular email sender. Unsubscribe links have always been a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act, but enforcement has left a lot to be desired. Both Gmail and Yahoo are now clamping down hard when it comes to making the unsubscribe process effortless.

Whether you use the list-unsubscribe header or include a link in the email body, ensure that anyone from your email list is able to opt-out with just one click. Why? Because the easier you make it for recipients to unsubscribe, the less likely they are to hit the dreaded spam button. Remember, unsubscribes won’t harm your reputation, but spam complaints certainly will.

3. Quality trumps quantity

Did you know that the term email “spam” comes from a Monty Python sketch that lampooned how Spam luncheon meat is ubiquitous, unavoidable, and repetitive? We’ll pass on the spam, thanks! And your emails should avoid being aligned with canned pork products.

To add another spam protection, Google is enforcing a clear spam rate threshold that senders must stay under to ensure Gmail recipients aren’t bombarded with unwanted messages.

Keep your spam complaints as close to zero as possible by obtaining explicit and voluntary consent from your audience. The key is to let subscribers control their preferences with granular precision. The days of mass-emailing without permission are long gone; the focus now is on sending content that your audience actually wants.

Business Basics Email Template Pack

We’ve created a set of common business email templates to save you time, deliberation and stress. Simply copy/paste into the body of your email.
 
  • Make a good impression
  • Get your message across clearly
  • Set the tone for constructive communication
  • Achieve your desired outcome
 

Does your email hygiene need a tune-up?

Authenticating your emails, simplifying the unsubscribe process, and ensuring you’re sending content that your audience genuinely wants should be considered basic email hygiene. Google describes these changes as “a tune-up for the email world, and by fixing a few things under the hood, we can keep email running smoothly.” Google also emphasizes that keeping email more secure, user-friendly, and spam-free requires constant collaboration and vigilance from the entire email community. By aligning with these new requirements, you’ll not only safeguard your sender reputation but also contribute to a healthier and more efficient email ecosystem. Happy emailing!

For those who need help improving their email systems, Google has shared clear guidance before enforcement begins in February 2024. If you have any questions or need help with your email marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to reach out to Brighter Messaging for professional email marketing services.

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