Google’s and Yahoo’s New Email Requirements

What’s changing with email; what are the new rules and requirements?

Google and Yahoo released new email rules, all in an effort to cut down on the number of spam and malicious content sent via email.  

You probably don’t send spam to people on your email list. However, for all of us who don’t spam, plenty of others pick up “the slack.”

According to Google:

“Gmail’s AI-powered defenses stop more than 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware from reaching inboxes and block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails every day. But now, nearly 20 years after Gmail launched, the threats we face are more complex and pressing than ever.”

These numbers are surreal!

Designed to Reduce Fraud and Spam

Without a doubt, the new rules are designed to keep us safer online and reduce the amount of spam, but I doubt there will ever come a day when all spam will be eradicated!

The new rules took effect on the 1st of February, 2024.

While they apply primarily to bulk senders of 5000 emails a day at this time, lower-volume senders have already been blocked if they receive high spam complaints or have missing domain records.

Therefore, it is good practice for all email senders to review and consider these updates going forward.

The New Rules Require Bulk Senders to:

  • Authenticate their email addresses (through DKIM, SPF, and DMARC)
  • Provide an easy unsubscribe option in their email
  • Have permission to send email
  • Keep spam complaint rates below 0.1%

With addresses properly authenticated, it’s far more difficult for spammers and scammers to pretend to be someone they are not, which should cut down on fraud and spam.

To learn more about SPF (not to be confused with sunscreen), DKIM, and DMARC,  check out “Cybersecurity for Small Business: Email Authentication,” published by the FTC.  

What if you Send Less than 5000 Emails a Day?

While you may not send huge amounts of emails, ensuring your email is authenticated correctly is still a good idea. Think of it as adding an additional lock to your office to keep intruders out.

How do you make these changes in your email account?

Even though most email providers have tutorials to show you how to do it, you may want to hire someone to ensure your account is configured correctly, so your emails will pass spam filters and won’t get rejected.

Email Best Practices:

Here is a publication from the FTC to help you maintain compliance with CAN-SPAM laws; take time to read through it.

Aside from the authentication discussed above, here are a few best practices to ensure your emails will get delivered.

  • Always use permission-based marketing: never add someone to your email list without their explicit consent.
  • Never purchase an email list!
  • Send emails from your practice website, not via Gmail, Yahoo, or another personal email address.
  • Once you receive a request for opt-out, ensure it is implemented within ten business days. Typically, this is something your email marketing system will handle for you.
  • Use a consistent “From” address: don’t switch between different names; people may not recognize you and mark you as spam.
  • Avoid trigger words in your email subject lines: frequently, they get caught in spam filters and emails won’t get delivered. Examples of trigger words include cash, money, free, lose weight, make money, etc.
  • Avoid using all caps, too many exclamation marks, $ signs, etc., in your subject lines; again, they may get your email stuck in a spam filter.
  • Make it easy for people to unsubscribe: use a clearly visible unsubscribe button. Note: If people can’t find the unsubscribe button right away, they will mark you as spam, which will count against you.
  • Keep your email list clean: subscribers who never open your emails hurt your reputation. After a specific timeframe, it’s best to remove them from the list.
  • Try to stay out of spam filters. How do you do that? By keeping your list engaged… by asking people to respond to your emails and leave comments.

What is engagement? It’s a measure of how your email subscribers interact with you.

In the eyes of Google, engagement implies people want to hear from you and trust you, compared to low or no engagement, which may signal that the emails are spam.

Here is Our Response to The New Email Rules

First, we verified our email authentication process. So far, so good; everything checks out.

Second, we are working to improve the engagement with our subscribers, which is an ongoing process.

Third, we will take steps to remove inactive subscribers from our list, a.k.a. “clean our list.”

To that end, we will send a short series of emails to subscribers who have not opened any emails over six to nine months. We will ask for a reply to the emails before removing anyone from our list.

However, if you are an active subscriber… you open our emails (thank you!), you will not receive any of these “re-engagement” emails.

Were you aware of these new email requirements? How will you meet compliance and ensure your emails will be delivered?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Let’s practice engagement, after all, Google loves and rewards it!.

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