Big news in the world of email marketing: Gmail and Yahoo have changed their requirements for senders. Here’s what everyone with an email list needs to know.
What is happening with Google and Yahoo and Email Marketing?
In late 2023, Google and Yahoo announced that they will begin implementing more stringent email authentication requirements for email marketers. Beginning in February 2024, if you do not meet the new requirements, your emails will most likely not be delivered to your subscribers who use Gmail, Google Workspace, or Yahoo email accounts.
This doesn’t mean you’ll land in spam… it means your message will be completely blocked by Google and Yahoo.
The good news is, they teamed up and made their requirements the same, so at least there’s just one set of steps to follow for both of them!
Why are they doing this?
In short, to crack down on scammers. You know, those super spammy emails you get that look like they’re from someone you know, but it turns out, they aren’t? Well, Google and Yahoo say that the number of those types of emails has grown exponentially in recent years, and this is one way they’re trying to eliminate a lot of the spam emails we’re all getting.
This doesn’t mean your email marketing is dead, but it does mean that you’ll need to take some steps to authenticate your domain in ways you didn’t need to before. Even if your domain had previously been authenticated, you’ll need to do it again to meet the new requirements.
Everything they’re requiring has been “recommended” best practice for a long time, but now it’s no longer optional.
Back in the olden days…
Up until February 2024, we’ve been able to rely on our email marketing platform (ConvertKit, Flodesk, Active Campaign, etc.) to take care of a lot of this for us. But that doesn’t cut it anymore.
It actually reminds me a lot of my first teaching job interview after college. I was interviewing in the same town my university was in, and we had a really good education program that had been widely recognized in the local school district as one of the best.
I remember clearly sitting in the principal’s office at my interview, and seeing a visible shift in her face as she read over my resume. She recognized my university, knew it had an incredible education program, and the rest of the interview was almost a formality. She had already decided to hire me because of my school’s reputation.
Fast forward a few years, and I had moved to another state, where no one had heard of my small university, and my interview experiences were much different. I couldn’t ride the reputation of my school anymore. I had to prove myself.
Likewise, up until now, our email provider has been able to vouch for us. So when I sent an email to my list through ConvertKit, they essentially told Google and Yahoo, “yes, this email is coming from Kristen Doyle, and she’s not a spammer, so it’s safe to let it into their inbox.”
Not anymore. Now, Google and Yahoo no longer accept your email provider vouching for you. You have to authenticate and send through your own domain to prove that you are who you say you are. One good thing about all this is that it’s actually also putting better protections in place for you, so that it’s harder for those scammers to spoof your domain (that means pretend that they’re you).
What do I need to do?
There’s a whole list of requirements you need to meet, but fortunately, your email provider has probably handled a few of them for you. If you’re using a reputable email marketing platform (like ConvertKit, Active Campaign, or Mailchimp), they have already taken care of:
- Valid forward and reverse DNS records
- One-click unsubscribe
- Secure connection for transmitting email
- Formatting emails properly
You will need to make sure:
- You are sending from a domain email address, not a free email address (ie: yo*@yo********.com, not yo**************@gm***.com). If you are currently sending from a free email account, you simply cannot continue to do that. My recommendation for a service to set up your domain email is Google Workspace, and the lowest tier plan is all you need for this.
- Authenticate your domain with your email provider using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records in your DNS settings.
- Keep your spam rates below 0.3% in Google’s Postmaster Tools. It’s free to set up an account there, and you need to monitor it regularly.
In order to keep spam rates low, I would also recommend that you:
- Enable double opt-in on all sign-up forms for your email list to keep out fake email addresses, etc.
- Regularly scrub your list of cold subscribers who have not opened your emails recently.
What happens if I ignore this?
Your emails will stop being delivered to any of your subscribers who use Gmail, Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Yahoo, or any of their related email providers. That’s a lot of the world.
Gmail and Yahoo are the two biggest free email account services in the world, so you risk not reaching most of your list. In fact, 81% of Americans use either Gmail or Yahoo.
What if I have a really small list?
There’s some info floating around that this only applies if you have over 5,000 subscribers, but that’s not really accurate. Yahoo hasn’t specified a minimum number at all, so we have to assume they are applying this to everyone.
Google has slightly simpler requirements if you send less than 5,000 emails in a day, but notice I said send emails, not have subscribers. If you have 2,500 subscribers but send two emails on a sale day or cart close day, that’s 5,000 emails. It also includes any sequences you have running and welcome emails when someone joins your list.
My recommendation is that you go ahead and do everything now, even if you have a smaller list. Why? Two reasons:
First, your plan is to grow your email list right? I’m sure you’re hoping that one day your list will be more than 5,000 people, so go ahead and plan for that now.
Second, if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking about this right now because other people are talking about it. In 6 months or 2 years when your list grows, you won’t remember this, and you’ll wonder why your emails aren’t being delivered. Just do it now while it’s front of mind.
How do I make these changes?
If you’re very comfortable with tech, and you know where your DNS settings are managed, here are some tutorials for different email marketing platforms:
Or you can hire me to take care of it for you!
Yes, I’ve created a service to help my clients get into compliance.
To be eligible for the offer, you should already have:
- Domain registration (ie: you own your URL – yourdomain.com)
- Branded domain email address (yo*@yo********.com) via a service like Google Workspace
- Email marketing service (ie: ConvertKit, Flodesk, etc.)