Gmail and Yahoo's new email sender requirements are here!

Two of the biggest players in the inbox space — Gmail and Yahoo — are set to introduce stringent rules to safeguard users’ inboxes from scammers and spammers this year. These rules, effective from February 2024, signify a pivotal shift in the ever-evolving landscape of email marketing. To ensure your marketing emails reach their intended recipients, it’s crucial to comprehend and adhere to these new requirements.

Let’s take a closer look into the specifics of these requirements to better understand how they reshape the landscape of email marketing protocols.

Best practices turned requirements

Long-standing best practices are no longer simply recommendations; they are now all but mandatory for anyone sending marketing emails. The industry’s standard guidelines will soon be codified into rules that every marketer must follow. Beginning with:

1. Email authentication: DKIM and SPF: Verification of valid emails will hinge on compliance with DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) – foundational forms of email authentication. Marketers who have not yet set up DKIM and SPF will need to do so to ensure their emails pass authentication checks.

2. DNS records: Forward and reverse: Sender domains and IPs must possess valid forward and reverse DNS records (also known as PTR records). These records enable mailbox providers to verify the sender by conducting a reverse DNS lookup upon receipt of emails.

3. Google Postmaster spam complaint rate: Maintaining a spam complaint rate below 0.3% within the Google Postmaster tool is imperative. This tool serves as a critical metric for senders to gauge their email deliverability and sender reputation. Any sender not meeting this metric will see a marked increase in rejection rates. 

4. Internet message format standard: Outgoing messages will be required to adhere to the Internet Message Format standard RFC 5322. This set of requirements defines the correct format for email messages, encompassing headers, body, and attachments.

5. DMARC policy for Gmail impersonation: Senders must not impersonate headers, as Gmail will use a DMARC policy that quarantines emails impersonating a Gmail “From:” header.

6. ARC headers for forwarded emails: Forwarded emails, including those via mailing lists and inbound gateways, must have ARC headers added. ARC is a robust authentication check for forwarded messages that works to ensure emails reach their intended recipients.

7. DMARC authentication: Senders need to establish Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) email authentication for their sending domain. DMARC systems communicate policies to mailbox providers, guiding them on what to do when they receive an email that fails in-bound authenticity checks.

8. Alignment of “From:” header: The “From:” header in direct emails will be required to align with either the SPF domain or the DKIM domain.

9. Updated unsubscribe functionality: Emails must now enable a hassle-free one-click unsubscribe function, as well as prominently display unsubscribe links within the body of the message itself.

10. TLS protocol for data privacy: Senders are henceforth required to use a Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol that ensures encryption and data privacy, further securing the communication channel.

A new framework for marketers

All of the above requirements are integral components of this latest framework. It’s also essential to note that these requirements apply specifically to all emails being sent to Google & Yahoo. Furthermore, the DMARC and one-click unsubscribe requirements are required by companies who have sent 5,000 emails/day in the history of their sends.

Incorporating these changes not only ensures compliance with Gmail and Yahoo’s new rules, but also positions marketers to maintain healthy sender reputations, resulting in improved email deliverability and engagement.

Key takeaways

As marketers navigate this new horizon of sender requirements, success will hinge on understanding, adapting, and incorporating these rules into email marketing strategies. By doing so, marketers can continue to forge meaningful connections with audiences while safeguarding the integrity of email communication in the digital realm.

While the above can seem like a lot to process, Cendyn has a longstanding and proven track record of navigating the many moving parts of digital marketing, up to and including the challenge of appropriately handling customer email compliance. So if you or your team needs any assistance in implementing the shift, we invite you to reach out to us. Our experts can help get you — and KEEP you — on the right track.