Email marketing is still an effective and affordable way to reach and engage your audience. But as the email landscape evolves, so do the rules and standards that govern it. In 2024, major email providers, such as Gmail and Yahoo, introduced new requirements for bulk senders. These requirements were created to ensure a safer and less spammy inbox for their users. If you are using email marketing tools like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, you need to comply with them. So, here is what you need to know and do to keep your email campaigns running smoothly and successfully.
What are the new email requirements?
The new email requirements impact anyone who sends emails through a mailing list provider. Most of the reputable mailing list services are mandating these changes and notifying the folks who use their services. We’ve assisted clients with Constant Contact, MailChimp, and some lesser-known providers over the past few weeks.
The goal of the requirements is to implement best practices with email authentication. Essentially, it’s a way to verify that an email is sent from a legitimate source and not spoofed or forged by spammers or hackers. These requirements are:
- Send emails from a custom domain. A custom domain is a domain name that you own and use for your business, such as yourcompany.com. You can’t use free email addresses, such as gmail.com or yahoo.com, to send bulk emails anymore. Free email addresses are often abused by spammers and phishers. Plus, they don’t provide a clear identity or reputation for your brand.
- Verify your domain via DKIM and SPF. DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) are two methods of email authentication that prove that you are authorized to send emails from your domain. They help prevent your emails from being tampered with or altered in transit. You need to set up DKIM and SPF records in your domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings, which are usually managed by your domain registrar or hosting provider.
- Have a DMARC record set to at least p=none. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a protocol that tells email providers how to handle emails that fail DKIM or SPF checks. It also provides feedback on the authentication status of your emails. You need to set up a DMARC record in your domain’s DNS settings and set the policy to at least p=none. You can also set the policy to p=quarantine or p=reject, which means that you are asking email providers to either mark the failed emails as spam or reject them altogether. However, you should only do this after you are confident that your email authentication is working and not affecting your legitimate emails.
- Offer a one-click unsubscribe button. You need to provide a clear and easy way for your recipients to opt out of your email communications. Be sure to include an unsubscribe link or button in every email you send and process the unsubscribe requests within two days. This respects your recipients’ preferences and avoids spam complaints.
- Keep spam complaints below 0.3%. You need to monitor and maintain a low rate of spam complaints from your recipients. A spam complaint is when a recipient marks your email as spam or junk in their inbox. – which tells email providers that your email is unwanted or unsolicited. This can also damage your reputation as a sender and impact deliverability. Your goal is to keep your spam complaint rate below 0.3%. So, for every 1,000 emails you send, you should receive no more than three spam complaints.
Why are these changes happening?
Email providers want to protect their users from spam, phishing, and malware. It’s not just your reputation at stake – the email list provider’s reputation is also at risk. Requiring bulk senders to follow these email authentication standards helps email providers filter out malicious and fraudulent emails and deliver only the legitimate ones. This improves user experience, security, and privacy.
These changes also help you improve your email deliverability and performance. By following these email authentication standards, you can:
- Build trust and credibility with your email recipients. Emails sent from a custom domain that is verified and authenticated showing recipients that the sender is professional and reputable. This can increase your brand recognition and loyalty, as well as your open and click rates.
- Avoid spam filters and blacklists. Emails that are verified and authenticated have a reduced chance of being flagged as spam or blocked. This can increase your inbox placement and visibility, as well as your conversion and retention rates.
- Gain insights and feedback on your email campaigns. When you set up a DMARC record and policy, you can receive reports on the authentication status and performance of your emails. This can help you identify and fix any issues or errors that may affect your email deliverability and reputation.
How do you comply with these changes?
Many email marketing tools like Constant Contact or Mailchimp have started reaching out to their clients with instructions and/or guidance. Here are some steps you can take:
- Get a custom domain. If you don’t have one already, get a custom domain for your business and use it as your sender address for your email campaigns. You can buy a custom domain from any domain registrar or hosting provider. We have some guidelines for choosing a domain name as well as a domain name search and registration tool that you’re welcome to use.
- Verify your domain. Once you have a custom domain, you’ll need to verify it within your email marketing tool. This proves that you own the domain and are authorized to send emails from it. You can verify your domain by following the steps provided by your mailing list provider, which usually involves adding some records to your domain’s DNS settings or web server. We recommend not using any automated domain verification tools that require you to enter your hosting account credentials. While these services may be reputable, it’s less risky to take the manual verification route than giving a third party access to your credentials.
- Set up DKIM and SPF. After you verify your domain, you need to set up DKIM and SPF records for your domain. This will enable email authentication for your domain and help prevent your emails from being spoofed or forged. You can set up DKIM and SPF records by following the steps provided by your email marketing tool, which again involves adding records to your domain’s DNS settings.
- Set up DMARC. After you set up DKIM and SPF records, you need to set up a DMARC record for your domain. This will tell email providers how to handle emails that fail DKIM or SPF checks, and also provide you with feedback on your email authentication performance. This also involves updates to your domain’s DNS settings. You can also use a DMARC tool or service to help you create and manage your DMARC record and policy.
- Test and monitor your email campaigns. After you set up all the email authentication records and policies, you need to test and monitor your email campaigns to ensure that they are working properly and not affecting your deliverability and reputation. Start by sending test emails to various email providers and checking if they are delivered to the inbox or the spam folder. You can also use an email testing tool or service to check the quality and score of your emails. Finally. you’ll want to monitor your email campaigns by checking the reports and analytics provided by your email marketing tool. These tools will show you the open, click, bounce, and spam rates.
Email marketing is always changing so you need to be ready for it. Start with implementing these new email requirements. Then, keep an eye out for other changes.
If you need any help or support, start with your email marketing tool’s customer service. If they can’t help you, we’re always here. We offer a 30-minute no-cost, no-obligation consultation and can use that time to walk you through how to make these changes.