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What you should know about Google and Yahoo’s new guidelines for bulk email senders.

On February 1, 2024, Google and Yahoo began implementing new bulk email sender guidelines. The rules primarily address three issues: outgoing email authentication, reported spam rates, and easy unsubscribe from email lists.

Google described bulk senders in an early-October release as “those who send more than 5,000 messages to Gmail addresses in one day,” which piqued the interest of email marketers in both B2B and B2C circles.

Bulk senders who do not meet the sender standards will receive transitory errors (with error codes) on a tiny fraction of their non-compliant email traffic, according to Google. These temporary faults will assist senders in identifying email traffic that does not comply with the revised rules and will allow senders to address issues that are causing noncompliance.

Email rejections will start in April. According to Google:

What is the email authentication requirement for bulk senders?

The two businesses require bulk email senders to utilize what Google refers to as “well-established best practices” to authenticate themselves. According to Google, this will close flaws that attackers may exploit.

Three techniques operate together to authenticate emails:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) helps prevent domain spoofing by allowing senders to identify the email servers that are allowed to send emails from their domain.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) adds a digital signature to outgoing email, which verifies the message was sent by an authorized sender and wasn’t tampered with along the way.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) helps domain owners specify which actions to take when an email fails authentication. It also enables reporting on email authentication results.

Google and Yahoo now require bulk senders to set up all three of these mechanisms.

What is the reported spam rate among bulk email senders?

Google states that bulk senders must keep their reported spam rate (the percentage of outgoing messages identified as spam by recipients) in Google Postmaster Tools at 0.10% and “avoid ever reaching 0.30% or higher.”

Reporting an email as spam is relatively simple, therefore this need differs from authentication and unsubscribe links. It all comes down to how much value the consumer perceives they are receiving. It is partially outside the sender’s control.

Dana Carr, director of email marketing at Optimove, a customer data platform company, suggests a few techniques to prevent having valid mails tagged as spam. First, take attention to the transmit timings. Many bulk emails are sent at the top or bottom of the hour, making it easier for recipients to report them as spam.

She also recommends using preference centers, which allow customers to control the frequency of emails as well as the categories and goods included in them. According to Carr, preference centers not only cut email volume but also enhance email engagement.

What are the ‘unsubscribe’ guidelines for mass senders?

Unsurprisingly, Google requires marketing messages and other subscription messages to provide one-click unsubscribe functionality.

Carr believes that seasoned email marketers should already know this. Any residual hesitation to integrate the functionality indicates an email strategy focused on quantity over quality.

“The quantity of people who get your emails is only one of several factors that can harm your reputation. Carr explained that this includes open rates as well as list size. “At the end of the day, all of these data are negatively impacting your engagement metrics. Instead of thinking on list size, we should consider segmentation and tailored content.

How concerned should email marketers be with these requirements?

Most experienced email marketers will look at these criteria and say, “Check. Check. Check.”

Carr feels that senders who understand authentication and proper email practices should not be particularly concerned. But there is a catch.

The standards apply at the domain level, which means they apply to all emails sent by the organization under the domain, not only marketing. This comprises sales teams, including business development professionals and sales development representatives, who frequently rely on outbound cold email strategies.

These teams, equipped with generative AI technologies and sales interaction systems (such as Salesloft and Outreach), can generate a large amount of email.

These roles do not necessarily report to marketing, and they are likely unfamiliar with email authentication requirements. This creates a turf conflict for marketers who want to protect their email approach.

Carr believes that marketing should take the lead on authentication and appropriate email practices throughout the organization. “Marketing should be aware of the sending domain for messages,” she went on to say. “Some people will get this confused with the website domain.”

Carr said that marketing should also advise the team in charge of authentication, as any change at the DNS level could pose a severe problem.

Why are there new guidelines for bulk senders?

Spam is a big issue. Most individuals are unaware of the scope of the problem because the great majority of spam messages are blocked before reaching the inbox. Spam is also a security problem, and when it enters the inboxes of users in specific organizations or government institutions, it can pose a major hazard.

However, getting rid of spam is only half of the motivation.

“The inbox is a revenue source,” explained Phelan. “The advertising appear at the top of the inbox. The advertisements in the mobile app. It connects to Google’s data mart.”

For years, Google has taken precautions to protect its money stream, such as introducing tabs in Gmail to separate commercial and social communications. Phelan believes that the recent initiatives are another method to solve the issue. The obvious reaction, he added, is to filter out the noise by employing techniques like as authentication to assist determine who reaches the mailbox.

Carr agrees that the shift is primarily motivated by the need to make the inbox key to people’s everyday activities. “[Google is] not foolish,” she stated. “They understand that more and more customers are preferring other methods, such as SMS and in-app messaging. “This is like parents saying, ‘I gave you three chances.'”

A study found that B2B enterprises aren’t prepared for bulk email limits.

Companies in the B2B sector, where outbound email is a significant element of the sales strategy, will have to adjust to the new bulk email restrictions.

According to a survey by Customers.ai, which sells technologies to help businesses better identify their website visitors, numerous B2B industries have reported spam rates considerably beyond the 0.1% indicated by Google and Yahoo, and even exceed the 0.3% threshold that senders should never reach.

The average spam complaint rate in the B2B space was 2.01%, ranging from 1.1% to 3.1%.

In fact, Customers.ai was unable to discover a single sender who scored below the 0.3% level in the nine spammiest verticals. Read more about the Customers.ai analysis and methodology on the company’s blog.

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