Starting in February 2024, the deliverability rules for Gmail and Yahoo! are evolving. Should we be worried? Is this a true revolution or merely the formal adoption of best practices already widespread in email marketing? We will answer your questions by reviewing the new rules and sharing our advice on how to comply with them.
The goal of these two messaging giants is the same: to improve the user experience by reducing the volume of unwanted emails received in inboxes and ensuring a high level of security.
Here are the new rules that will come into force in February 2024:
The spam rate must not exceed 0.3%. Beyond this, senders will be considered unreliable, and their shipments may be blocked.
Senders must provide a simple unsubscribe mechanism to allow recipients to easily opt out of mailing lists.
Authentication processes must be implemented, if not already done, to validate the sender's identity. Standard protocols must be adhered to: SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication).
The sender must have a valid reverse DNS record. In other words, the IP address used for sending must be linked to the sender's domain.
The format of communications (email bodies, titles, attachments, etc.) must comply with the rules set out in RFC 5322 standard.
Let's end the suspense: these changes are not revolutionary. If you are already applying best practices in email deliverability, if you use a trusted platform (like Actito) to manage your mailings, you inherently comply with most of these rules. Indeed, at Actito, we offer a robust infrastructure and support from a team of deliverability experts (from setup to daily management).
These new rules apply to anyone targeting Gmail and Yahoo! email addresses. In other words: everyone.
Included in the scope are addresses from: gmail.com, googlemail.com, yahoo.com, yahoo.fr, ymail.com, aol.com, aol.fr. However, Google has specified that these new rules will not apply to emails sent to professional recipients from the Google Workspace platform.
Important: some rules only apply to mass senders, which Google defines as senders sending more than 5,000 emails per day. Given that this article is aimed at marketing professionals, it's likely that you fall into this category. The two rules reserved for "bulk senders" are those concerning the facilitation of unsubscribing and compliance with DMARC, DKIM, and SPF protocols.
Let's take a closer look at the main changes. This will be an opportunity to share some practical advice.
Email authentication is a security process that verifies the legitimacy of the email sender.
To comply, you must activate at least the SPF or DKIM protocols.
The SPF (Sender Policy Framework) protocol is used to specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails for a given domain name.
The DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) protocol adds a cryptographic signature to emails.
Messages that do not use either of these protocols will be automatically rejected by Google. These protocols are also requested by Yahoo!, even if the company does not clearly specify the impact on businesses not using any protocol.
We strongly advise installing both protocols if you haven't already done so.
We also recommend using the DMARC protocol (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance), which allows defining a policy for rejecting or quarantining messages that do not comply with SPF or DKIM protocols. The absence of a DMARC protocol will not be penalised by Gmail or Yahoo! immediately, but it is the direction in which things are moving. Deliverability rules are expected to become stricter in the coming years.
Starting in June 2024, senders will be required to allow Google and Yahoo! to offer recipients their one-click unsubscribe (One-Click List-Unsubscribe) features. The goal is to make the unsubscription process easier for users.
Below is a screenshot showing the one-click unsubscribe feature at work in the Gmail inbox.
Furthermore, Google and Yahoo! encourage senders to clearly display their own unsubscribe link in the email. This means placing it in the header or body of the email rather than in the footer in small print...
Another announcement is that the processing time for unsubscribe requests has been reduced to two days.
Facilitating the unsubscribe process is a best practice already implemented by most serious brands. It helps maintain the quality of contact lists over time. If you're not yet adhering to this best practice, you know what you need to do.
It's worth noting that this new rule only applies to marketing emails - excluding transactional emails.
The spam rate (or complaint rate) refers to the percentage of delivered emails that are marked as junk (spam) by recipients. Google and Yahoo! have set a spam rate not to exceed: 0.3%. Beyond this, your emails risk being blocked.
We advise our clients to aim for a spam rate of 0.2% or lower.
How to reduce the spam rate?
By implementing a relevant email collection strategy.
By improving the targeting and relevance of your communications.
By removing inactive contacts from your database.
In short, by applying good marketing practices. Once again...
Good to know, to find out your complaint rate, you can use:
These new rules will not bring significant changes for Actito's clients. These requirements are the formalisation of best practices that we have integrated By Design into our platform or that we implement with and for our clients.
We configure the identification protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) for all our clients. Therefore, there's no risk to worry about from this aspect. The same goes for reverse DNS registration and for managing unsubscribes.
Where our clients need to be particularly vigilant, however, is in maintaining the spam rate below the 0.3% threshold. We've emphasised that optimising this rate depends on our clients' marketing practices, not on technical actions.
To facilitate the monitoring of the complaint rate, we activate Google's Postmaster Tools for all our clients. We can share access upon a simple request to our support by indicating the (Google compatible) address that will access this information.
The deliverability rate is one of the main KPIs for measuring the performance of an email campaign. Complying with the new deliverability requirements from Google and Yahoo! is not optional. The reach of your communications and, in the medium term, your sender reputation are at stake. This issue must be taken very seriously.
It boils down to two things:
If you use a trusted platform like Actito, then the new requirements will not necessitate significant adaptations.
If this is not the case (for example, if you manage your campaigns locally), then you will need to roll up your sleeves to face the imminent arrival of these new deliverability rules :)