Today, new guidelines have been introduced by two of the largest email service providers, Gmail and Yahoo. The changes will require email senders to prove they are not spammers. The Data Business outlines the implications for media companies…
Today (1st Feb, 2024), changes by Gmail and Yahoo will bring a paradigm shift in how emails are handled, aiming to enhance user experience, privacy, and security. Media organisations which frequently contact their audience at their Gmail and Yahoo email accounts, may risk their domain being listed as spam if the following advice is not considered.
Understanding the shift
Gmail’s adaptive delivery
Gmail, with its user base exceeding 1.5 billion, has rolled out adaptive delivery mechanisms that prioritise user engagement to determine inbox placement. Open rates, reply rates, and message content now heavily influence email delivery, marking a departure from traditional spam filtering.
Gmail’s current AI-powered defensive measures stop spam, phishing, and other forms of email fraud by 99.9% – restricting nearly 15 billion undesired emails daily. Nevertheless, Google is keen on taking it one step further by making it mandatory for those sending over 5,000 messages to Gmail inboxes per day to validate their emails.
In essence, it’s not just about avoiding spam-triggering words; rather, it’s about crafting engaging content that compels users to interact with emails. Personalisation, relevance, and value have become pivotal to ensure emails land in the coveted primary inbox.
Yahoo’s focus on authentication
Yahoo, serving hundreds of millions of users globally, has bolstered its email authentication standards. The implementation of strict Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) policies demands senders to authenticate their emails properly. Unauthenticated or poorly authenticated emails risk being diverted to spam or rejected outright, safeguarding users from phishing attempts and spam inundation.
To meet this objective, Yahoo announced that in 2024 bulk message senders would be required to authenticate their emails against popular email authentication standards, enable one-click un-subscription options, and send emails that are of value to Yahoo users.
The impact on senders
For marketers, businesses, and individuals relying on bulk email outreach of over 5,000 emails a day, these guidelines necessitate an overhaul in strategy. For example, a publisher sending newsletters to Gmail domains should consider creating more interactive content that encourages click-through-links and user engagement. This will help bolster inbox placement and placate the risk of being labelled as spam.
Newsletter publishers should not be sending their marketing correspondence through a “free” or personal email address (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) as these will not comply with authentication practices. You should already be sending these through a dedicated paid domain such as that of your organisation (@thedatabusiness.net). This significantly improves the authentication score for sending to Yahoo email addresses. The steps below will also send your newsletters on their way to being accepted by your audience.
Quality over quantity
With Gmail’s emphasis on engagement metrics, the days of mass emailing without personalised, engaging content are numbered. Senders need to focus on quality interactions, tailoring content to resonate with recipients, encouraging interactions, and prompt responses.
Authentication and trust
Yahoo and Gmail’s stringent authentication requirements mean senders must ensure proper protocols are in place. This entails configuring SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records to authenticate their domain, assuring ISPs (Internet Service Providers) of the email’s legitimacy and enhancing trustworthiness.
Media organisations should also review their sender policy framework (SPF) to ensure they are authorised as a permitted sending domain and thereby reducing spam complaints.
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) helps protect your email’s content from being altered while in transit by adding digital signatures to message headers.
DMARC binds it all together by aligning messages against SPF and/or DKIM checkpoints and setting up instructions for receiving servers to accept, quarantine, or reject misaligned emails. It helps protect your email messages against phishing attacks, spoofing, and other email-based threats.
Easy one-click unsubscribe
One-click unsubscribe mechanism is another bulk email requirement declared by Google and Yahoo to make it easier for receivers to opt-out of receiving messages that do not interest them and maintain a spam-free inbox. Make sure that any email correspondence sent to all recipients includes a clear and simple option to unsubscribe.
Make sure to stay below spam-rate thresholds
Take measures to keep your domain below the spam-rate threshold of 0.3% (ideally, this should be below 0.1%). Spam messages are blocked by Gmail and Yahoo servers to block irrelevant or malicious messages from reaching their users. Multiple sources are available online for how to reduce the chance of being labelled as a spam domain.
Statistics that illuminate the shift
- Engagement-based filtering: Studies reveal that Gmail’s adaptive delivery system, which prioritises user engagement, has led to a 20% increase in open rates for emails with highly personalised subject lines and relevant content.
- Authentication impact: Since Yahoo’s reinforced authentication protocols, the percentage of phishing emails landing in users’ inboxes has plummeted by nearly 35%, contributing to a safer email environment.
- Spam reduction: Both Gmail and Yahoo have witnessed a combined 40% decrease in reported spam emails, indicating the efficacy of these updated guidelines in filtering out unwanted and potentially harmful content.
3 ways to navigate the guidelines
For individuals and businesses striving to adapt to these changes, these approaches can ensure compliance and success:
1. Personalisation and relevance: Craft emails that cater to recipients’ interests, employing segmentation and personalisation techniques. Providing value-driven content that resonates with your audience significantly enhances engagement metrics.
2. Authentication protocols: Prioritise authentication by configuring SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records correctly. Collaborate with IT professionals if needed to ensure emails are properly authenticated and pass authentication checks.
3. Continuous adaptation: Stay updated with evolving guidelines and email best practices. The digital landscape is dynamic, requiring continual adaptation to stay ahead and maintain optimal email delivery rates.
The future of email marketing
As we adapt to the new guidelines set by Gmail and Yahoo, the focus on user engagement, authentication, and relevance brings both challenges and opportunities for email senders.
By embracing these changes and aligning strategies to prioritise quality, personalisation, and authentication, senders can navigate these guidelines successfully. This means messages reaching their intended recipients’ inboxes, fostering meaningful connections, and contributing to a safer and more engaging email ecosystem.
The Data Business is a partner of Mx3’s Collectif Network, a strategic partner community that brings together industry technology leaders and media advisors to benefit from various exclusive initiatives and to add their voices to wider industry conversations.
To learn more about Collectif and our media-tech community, contact John Schlaefli, Chief Commercial Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.