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Navigating Gmail and Yahoo's New Email Sender Requirements

Updated: Feb 21

Google and Yahoo have announced pivotal changes that will affect bulk email senders starting February 2024. For the purposes of this article we will focus on the Gmail requirements as meeting these will also meet Yahoo's requirements. If your marketing strategies include sending a significant volume of emails, particularly more than 5,000 messages to Gmail users, these updates are crucial for you.

Authenticating Your Email

Email authentication isn't just a technical checkpoint; it's about ensuring that your audience can rely on the origin of your messages. Requirements for authentication will be focused around SPF, DKIM, and DMARC and making sure that these are implemented correctly in your email sending platform. Chances are, you already have email authentication set up in your marketing platform but it's a good reminder to ensure that they're being adhered to by checking through recent emails and keeping an eye out for wayward From Names and Sender Email formats.

Simplifying Unsubscription

A key update mandates that bulk senders must provide an easy option for users to unsubscribe from email lists.

With the rise of bot clicks checking through email links before they reach the recipient, the general practice has been to avoid one-click unsubscribes in your marketing emails, so this requirement raised an eyebrow or two.

To set up one-click unsubscribe, include both of these headers in outgoing messages: List-Unsubscribe-Post: List-Unsubscribe=One-Click List-Unsubscribe: <>

The List-Unsubscribe method should already be in place with the bigger players in the marketing space such as Marketing Cloud, Account Engagement, Hubspot, Marketo etc. List-Unsubscribe tags are added into the header of an email as it's sent, and it has the possibility to show beside the Sender Name of the email in both Outlook and Gmail along with a few other email clients.

But this also means that the unsubscribe link in your footer should be fine to stay as a two click process as long as you have Link-Unsubscribe set up in your email platform.

It is however a good time to review your unsubscribe process and make sure you're not making it hard to unsubscribe, and that you are actioning the unsubscribe requests that do come through lest you find yourself with a hefty fine.

Keeping Spam Thresholds in Check

Another significant aspect of these updates is the requirement to stay below a specified spam threshold of 0.3%. This means companies must be more diligent than ever in ensuring their content is relevant and welcomed by recipients, safeguarding the sender's reputation and deliverability.

What This Means for Your Email Strategy

These updates signify a shift towards more transparent and secure email practices. For marketers, it's an opportunity to revisit and refine your email strategies. Ensuring DMARC authentication for your domain, respecting user preferences through easy unsubscription, and keeping a keen eye on spam reports will be non-negotiables in maintaining your brand's integrity and inbox presence.

Here are a few recommendations that we would suggest to review before this roll-out happens:

  1. Check your deliverability setup in your marketing platforms and make sure they are aligned with what is currently being sent out from your platform

  2. Review your spam rates and if necessary put an action plan together to lower it

  3. Review your unsubscribe process and check that your marketing platform adds a List-Unsubscribe tag in the header of your emails

Embracing the Change

As Gmail enacts these new requirements, it's not just about compliance; it's about improving the email ecosystem for everyone. These changes will help legitimate brands and domains to stand out, reduce the chances of spoofing, and enhance the overall trust in email communication.

Here is a detailed list of changes that will come into effect in February 2024, more details can be found here.

All senders:

  • SPF and DKIM email authentication required

  • Ensure valid forward and reverse DNS records

  • Spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.3%

  • Message format adheres to RFC 5322 standard

  • No Gmail Impersonation in FROM headers (Gmail setting DMARC Quarantine policy)

  • Email Forwarding requirements 

Senders with > 5,000 messages a day:

  • DMARC email authentication for your sending domains

  • From: header must be aligned with either the SPF domain or the DKIM domain

  • One-click unsubscribe for subscribed messages

It's also worth noting for the one-click unsubscribe, that the unsubscribe footer link should be fine to stay as a two step process (preferred) as long as the email sending platform adds a list-unsubscribe header to the email which the big Email Service Providers do already.

DMARC Authentication is an interesting consideration as well. Most organisations require DKIM to be able to utilise DMARC as SPF won't actually resolve to their domain.

If you need to ensure that your organisation is ready for the new changes, Idea Science can help. Our Marketing Automation Specialists can review your setup and implement any changes that you might need.


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