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Don’t fall victim to every marketer’s nightmare: messages that never reach their final destination and emails that are unfairly pegged as “junk” from the outset — in other words, spam.

The more your emails get marked as spam, the worse your email deliverability can get over time. Being seen as a spammer can also damage the credibility of your brand, breaking down any trust you’ve worked hard to earn with your audience. Having a history of sending spam can also get you blocked by certain Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Come February 2024, businesses that rely on email marketing will face new challenges as Google and Yahoo roll out significant updates to their spam filtering policies. However, the change extends far beyond the realm of email marketing, potentially impacting any business that uses email communication as a touchpoint with customers. Let’s break down what you need to know to make sure your emails don’t get flagged as malicious spam.

Changes you can make ASAP

Google and Yahoo’s updated policies are scheduled to begin during Q1 2024. Other ISPs may be updating their policies in the future — but only updates for Google and Yahoo have been announced.

In order to avoid being penalized as a spammer, Google and Yahoo’s new spam filtering policies require email marketers do the following:

1. Set up domain verification

One of the most famous types of spam is a “spoofed” email, which is an email message that has been altered or falsified to misrepresent the sender’s identity. In a spoofed email, the sender’s information is manipulated to appear as though the email has originated from a different source. The intent behind spoofing can vary, but it’s often used for malicious or deceptive purposes.

“Domain authentication” is an electronic certificate that indicates that the sender’s address is not a spoof. For example, if you’re sending emails from another company’s server by using an email delivery system, the server that delivers the emails and the domain server of the sender address may be different. The receiving server determines whether the source address is genuine by referring to a digital certificate such as SPF or DKIM.

Even if everything is on the up-and-up, the email may still seem suspicious. Setting up a digital certificate, or “domain authentication,” is strongly encouraged to make sure honest marketers avoid the penalties associated with spammers.

2. Make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails

The ability to unsubscribe has long been a part of CAN-SPAM compliance. However, marketers should enable a one-click solution that removes email recipients who want to unsubscribe within two days. The unsubscribe link should be easy to find.

In Gmail, the rule for easy unsubscribing applies only to those who send more than 5,000 emails a day to Gmail accounts. If you’re sending less than 5,000 emails per day, the rule will not apply. However, it’s important to note that Yahoo! Mail currently doesn’t have the same exception — another reason why one-click unsubscribe links should be implemented in all email campaigns as soon as possible.

Don’t fall victim to every marketer’s nightmare: messages that never reach their final destination and emails that are unfairly pegged as “junk” from the outset — in other words, spam.

3. Keep your complaint rate below 0.3%

If email recipients have an issue with an email they’ve received, they can report complaints to Google or Yahoo and have email from a particular sender blocked. Some common reasons recipients issue complaints:

  • They’ve received an unsolicited email.
  • They’re frustrated by receiving a newsletter or marketing piece they’re no longer interested in.
  • They don’t know how to unsubscribe or are frustrated by the process.

Email senders should maintain a complaint reporting rate that’s less than 0.3% in order to stay compliant with these new policies. The best way to do this is to only send emails to recipients who have opted to receive your email messages. It’s also recommended that you refrain from sending emails to anyone who hasn’t opened your emails over a long period of time.

Marketers who neglect to set up domain authentication, make it impossible or difficult to opt out of your email marketing messages, and/or have a complaint rate of 0.3% or more are more likely to have their emails rejected or classified as spam.

Gmail will enforce these new policies in February 2024, and Yahoo! Mail will enforce them by the first quarter of 2024.

What is DMW doing?

At DMW, our number one goal is to help our clients focus on email compliance content and deliverability. We’ll ensure that email marketing campaigns are compliant with the upcoming standards to grow each client, reach their customers’ inboxes and drive results effectively.

Our key areas of focus are:

  • Compliance – Ensure our email sending practices are up to date with the new authentication requirements.
  • Reputation management – Monitor and cultivate domain and sender reputations meticulously.
  • Quality content – Aim to provide engaging, relevant, and valuable email content to maintain high engagement rates.

Stay one step ahead

Following these tips will help your marketing emails steer clear of the spam folder — for now. Updates are always on the horizon, and best practices constantly change as new generations of con artists concoct novel ways to scam unwary marks.

The future of email marketing is a landscape of evolving regulations. Stay on top of your email marketing campaigns with DMW’s e-communication experts. Visit our site to get in touch!