Email Marketing Compliance and What the Changes Mean for You

With an average of 120 emails bombarding our inboxes daily, it’s no wonder the struggle to stay on top of essential communications is real. To make matters worse, there can be a lot of spam emails mixed in with the legitimate ones. The good news? The cavalry, in the form of Google and Yahoo, is on the way! These tech giants are teaming up to revolutionize your email experience with revamped authentication and spam prevention policies set to roll out in February 2024.

So, what’s changing, and how does it affect you? Let’s dive into email marketing compliance and explore what the changes coming in 2024 mean for your inbox and, more importantly, your marketing emails.

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Email is an incredible tool. It keeps us connected with friends and loved ones. Helps us work and accomplish daily tasks. And opens the doors to business conversations and opportunities. All in the same day, you may be on the receiving end of marketing emails from your go-to takeout spot, plumber, gym, grocery store, and favorite clothing brand. The list goes on and on. The power of email is incredible, and that’s also why email marketing compliance is so important.

Simply put, staying compliant means you are following the laws, regulations, and best practices of your respective community or industry. In today’s age of data privacy and digital consent, email marketing compliance is key to your business strategy. If your business hopes to develop genuine relationships with clients and customers, you cannot risk ruining your brand’s image and destroying trust because you failed to stay compliant. Additionally, your business does not want to incur fines for failure to follow legal requirements related to user privacy!

Ultimately, staying on top of email marketing compliance, both best practices and legalities, will help enhance the trustworthiness of your brand. This will also help ensure the your messages reach their desired destinations.

Starting February 1, 2024, Google and Yahoo are mandating stricter authentication protocols, primarily for bulk senders (those sending over 5,000 emails per day). The companies will enact measures to block and filter incoming email traffic that fails to meet domain authentication and procedural requirements.

To comply with the new rules, email senders will have to:

  • Authenticate their email domains using security protocols like DKIM, SPF, and DMARC
  • Enable easy unsubscribe methods
  • Maintain a spam complaint rate under 0.3 percent

The goal of these changes is to enhance email user experience by getting rid of the barrage of spammy emails that clutter up inboxes, and clearing the way for legitimate emails that people want to read. The companies hope the new rules also reduce the risk of direct domain spoofing and phishing attacks. Even though the new rules are aimed at bulk email senders, they represent best practice guidelines for email marketing compliance that all businesses should follow.

The definition of spam is not changing. However, there will be greater enforcement from Google and Yahoo to weed it out. Spam often contains misleading subject lines, irrelevant content, excessive “buy now” buttons, and often uses purchased mailing lists. With the new changes, it becomes even more critical to ensure that your emails are not perceived as spam. Otherwise, they may be filtered out of the inbox.

Authentication is a big deal for email marketing compliance, and for good reason. Authentication helps make sure that when you send an email, it’s really you and not an imposter trying to use your good domain name to steal information.

These are the three main authentication protocols that need to be in place by February 2024.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF): This one lets you pick which IP addresses or domains are allowed to send emails for you. It’s like saying, “Hey, only these guys are cool to send on my behalf.”

DomainKeys Identified Email (DKIM): DKIM is like putting a digital signature on your emails. This signature helps Yahoo, Google, and others confirm that your email is the real deal and not an impersonator.

Domain-Based Messaging Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC): This is a protocol that brings SPF and DKIM together. It is a policy you put in your DNS to tell email providers how to check if an email sent from your domain is legitimate. DMARC helps decide if your email should go straight to the inbox, to the spam folder or rejected if it fails authentication.

Check out this guide for step-by step instructions on how to set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

We get it. You spent a long time building up your email database. You do not want people to unsubscribe from your email list. But the thing is, if there is not an easy way for them to unsubscribe, your audience may report your emails as spam. That’s the last thing you want. Make sure there is an unsubscribe link (preferably a one-click option) that is clearly visible in every email you send. It’s important that your audience has the option to easily opt out from further messages if they wish. It’s equally as important to honor unsubscribe requests within two days.

Starting in February, Google and Yahoo’s accepted spam complaint rate will be 0.3 percent. That equates to three complaints for every 1,000 emails. Best practices to avoid getting spam complaints include:

  • Don’t email people without their okay or purchase email lists; quality is better than quantity
  • Include an easily found unsubscribe option in every email
  • And remember, if someone does mark you as spam, you should remove them from your list immediately

If you haven’t already, sign up for Google’s Postmaster Tools to help you monitor your spam report data. The service is free and does not take very long to set up.

For more information on everything we’ve discussed, Google has a detailed list of its email sender guidelines.

As we gear up for the email landscape evolution in February 2024, it’s crucial for businesses, big and small, to stay ahead of the email marketing compliance curve. The changes outlined by Google and Yahoo are not just a game-changer for bulk senders; they’re a call to action for all email marketers to adopt best practices. Ensuring authentication through protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, simplifying the unsubscribe process, and maintaining a low spam complaint rate are not just compliance measures — they’re steps toward delivering a better, clutter-free inbox experience. So, let’s embrace these changes. Adapt your strategies, and you will continue to connect with your audience in a way that’s both meaningful and respectful.