person reading email on computer

What Gmail and Yahoo's Inbox Updates Mean for Your Email Program

Google and Yahoo have announced three big changes that bulk senders must comply with this year— new standards for email authentication, unsubscribe links, and complaint thresholds. The goal is to improve the customer experience by reducing the amount of unwanted emails flooding inboxes and will introduce new benchmarks and more stringent standards for email senders.  The authentication and complaint thresholds take effect on February 1, 2024. The one-click unsubscribe requirement will be required as of June 1, 2024.

As marketers we want our messages to be meaningful and relevant. The effectiveness of email as a marketing channel depends on it. An increase in unwanted email leads to more competition for the reader’s attention and reduces the chances that our emails will be noticed and read. We need our customers’ inbox experience to be excellent, which is why these new standards are vital.

However, any change can be scary. What do these changes mean and what impact will they have on your email program? More importantly, how can you ensure that you comply with these new standards? Never fear, we’ve been tracking these updates closely and, in this post, we’ll provide the clarity and guidance you need to navigate these new regulations with ease.

Changes to Email Authentication

Under the new guidelines there will be a big focus on how bulk email senders authenticate their messages. It will now be mandatory to authenticate using SPF, DKIM and DMARC. This is crucial for ensuring that your emails reach their intended recipients.

If you’re not sure how to go about setting up these policies, it’s a good idea to talk to your IT team. They can help you configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC in your company’s DNS, which is typically under the IT department’s control. This step is key to making sure your emails comply with the new standards and don’t end up blocked or marked as spam.

Note that Zeta already is authenticating mail using SPF, DKIM and DMARC so no major changes are needed for Zeta customers.

Changes to Unsubscribe Links

It’s about to become easier and more efficient to unsubscribe from unwanted messages. Under current CAN-SPAM regulations, there’s a ten-day grace period for senders to process opt-outs. The upcoming changes will reduce that grace period to two days, which could present challenges for those using multiple email marketing platforms or tools. All bulk email senders will also be expected to comply with one-click unsubscribe protocols, which requires embedding a specific code in email headers to facilitate easy opt-out.

However, it’s important to note that while the one-click unsubscribe feature will be mandatory, it won’t be the sole method for users to manage their email preferences. Subscribers will still have options to tailor their subscriptions and select the types of emails they wish to receive.

Existing unsubscribe links in the body of the message should still be clearly visible and not require the user to login to execute, but they do not have to be one click.  

Note that Zeta already includes a one-click unsubscribe header in commercial mail that is processed automatically upon receipt.

Changes to Spam Thresholds

New, stricter spam thresholds are on the horizon. The new guidelines require bulk senders to keep their spam rates below 0.3%, based on mail delivered to the inbox. This is a significant change because if the spam rate exceeds this limit, emails won’t just be relegated to the spam folder; they simply won’t be delivered.

To maintain spam complaint rates under 0.3%, it’s crucial to send only mail that users want to receive. Now that Google and Yahoo have stated a specific threshold and are emphasizing the importance of sending wanted mail, it will be mission critical to avoid sending mail where the subscriber either does not want the content or does not want to receive it too frequently.

Here are four strategies to help maintain a favorable spam threshold:

  • Observe open and click rates to identify patterns of behavior.
  • Consider sending less frequently to addresses that have low engagement.
  • Personalize messaging to individual interests whenever possible.
  • Provide an opt-down mechanism for those who wish to receive campaigns at a different cadence.

Note that Zeta already monitors both Gmail and Yahoo for complaint rates at a lower threshold than 0.3% so there shouldn’t be any major changes for Zeta customers.

Next Steps

The good news for Zeta customers is that the Zeta Marketing Platform is ahead of the curve and already complies with these new regulations. As noted above, Zeta already authenticates mail using SPF, DKIM and DMARC and includes a one-click unsubscribe header in commercial mail that is processed automatically upon receipt. Zeta also guides clients to maintain spam rates at a lower threshold than the stated 0.3%.

However, if you are using another platform, below are three ways you can prepare for the new regulations:

  1. Review Your Email Authentication Methods: Ensure your emails are authenticated with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.
  2. Audit Your Unsubscribe Process: Implement a one-click unsubscribe feature and ensure all opt-out requests are processed within two days.
  3. Monitor and Adjust Your Spam Rates: Regularly check your spam rates and employ the strategies above to keep them below the 0.3% threshold.

If your business or your marketing team requires some additional support as you prepare for the new standards, our team of dedicated deliverability experts is here to help.

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