person reading email on computer

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

Google and Yahoo have announced three significant changes that bulk senders must adhere to this year— new standards for email authentication, unsubscribe links, and complaint thresholds. The aim is to enhance the customer experience by reducing the volume of unwanted emails inundating inboxes and will set new benchmarks and more stringent criteria for email senders. The authentication and complaint thresholds will become effective on 1 February 2024. The one-click unsubscribe requirement will be mandatory from 1 June 2024.

As marketers, we strive for our messages to be meaningful and pertinent. The success of email as a marketing channel hinges on this. An increase in unwanted email leads to heightened competition for the reader’s attention and diminishes the likelihood that our emails will be noticed and read. We need our customers’ inbox experience to be outstanding, which is why these new standards are crucial.

However, any change can be daunting. What do these changes signify and what effect will they have on your email programme? More crucially, how can you ensure that you comply with these new standards? Do not worry, we’ve been closely monitoring these updates and, in this post, we’ll offer the clarity and advice you need to smoothly navigate these new regulations.

Changes to Email Authentication

Under the new guidelines, there will be a significant emphasis on how bulk email senders authenticate their messages. It will now be compulsory to authenticate using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. This is vital for ensuring that your emails are delivered to their intended recipients.

If you’re uncertain about how to implement these policies, consulting your IT team is a wise move. They can assist in setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC within your company’s DNS, which usually falls under the remit of the IT department. This action is crucial to ensure your emails adhere to the new standards and are not blocked or labelled as spam.

It’s worth noting that Zeta is already authenticating mail using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, so no significant changes are required for Zeta customers.

Changes to Unsubscribe Links

Unsubscribing from unwanted messages is set to become simpler and more efficient. Under the current CAN-SPAM regulations, there is a ten-day grace period for senders to process opt-outs. The impending changes will shorten this grace period to two days, potentially posing challenges for those utilising multiple email marketing platforms or tools. All bulk email senders will be expected to adhere to one-click unsubscribe protocols, necessitating the embedding of a specific code in email headers to enable easy opt-out.

It is crucial to remember, though, that while the one-click unsubscribe feature will be compulsory, it will not be the only method for users to manage their email preferences. Subscribers will continue to have options to customise their subscriptions and choose the types of emails they wish to receive.

Existing unsubscribe links within the message body must remain clearly visible and not necessitate user login to action, though they are not required to facilitate one-click unsubscribing.

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

Changes to Spam Thresholds

New, more rigorous spam thresholds are being introduced. The forthcoming guidelines mandate that bulk senders maintain their spam rates below 0.3%, calculated based on mail delivered to the inbox. This represents a notable shift; exceeding this spam rate will mean that emails won’t merely be moved to the spam folder—they won’t be delivered at all.

To keep spam complaint rates under 0.3%, it’s essential to dispatch only mail that recipients are interested in. With Google and Yahoo specifying this particular threshold and underscoring the necessity of sending desired mail, it becomes crucial to refrain from distributing mail where the recipient is either disinterested in the content or does not wish to receive it too frequently.

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

  • Observe open and click rates to identify patterns of behaviour.
  • 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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