Tulip Media Group

Email Marketing: Are You Spammy?

Although emails have been around for more than 50 years, they’re still an integral part of our daily communications, with billions being sent every day worldwide. However, email users also face more sophisticated spam, phishing, and malware attacks than ever, forcing providers like Yahoo and Google to tighten their restrictions – —starting with bulk senders. So, how do you ensure you follow these new guidelines and that your email marketing efforts aren’t ending up in your client’s spam folders? Well, today, we’re going over everything you need to know about Google’s new guidelines, including whom these guidelines apply to, how to adhere to them, and even a few tips of our own for dodging the spam folder.

Bulk Senders Beware

The first question we must answer is: What is a bulk sender? According to Google, a bulk sender is any account that sends 5,000+ messages to Gmail addresses in one day. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Awesome, these guidelines don’t apply to me,”– but not so fast. While you might not send thousands of emails in one day, it’s important to stay knowledgeable and current on best email practices so that your thoughtfully crafted marketing hits your user’s primary folders and doesn’t become marked as spam.

Doubling Down on Email Authentication

According to an announcement in October 2023, Google plans to begin doubling down on email authentication for bulk senders in early 2024. The release notes that setting up email authentication methods for your domain will not only protect your recipients from malicious messages but will also help prevent you and your organization from being impersonated while ensuring your messages do not get incorrectly marked as spam by Gmail.

Specifically, Google is recommending bulk senders set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for their domains to verify message authentication and improve delivery success. (And no, we’re not talking about sunscreen here). SPF prevents spammers from sending unauthorized messages that appear to be from your domain, meaning your SPF record should reference all email senders for your domain (including any third-party senders). DKIM, on the other hand, is used by receiving servers to verify that the domain owner actually sent the message. Finally, setting up DMARC lets you tell receiving servers what to do with messages from your domain that don’t pass SPF or DKIM, and you can configure DMARC reports so you can monitor emails being sent (or that appear to have been sent) from your domain. In other words, DMARC reports help you identify senders that may be impersonating your domain.

Easily Unsubscribe From Unwanted Emails

Beyond stricter email authentication guidelines, Google will also be requiring bulk senders to give Gmail recipients the ability to unsubscribe from commercial emails in one click (and that they process these requests within two days). We can’t be the only ones who have experienced the feeling of trying to find the unsubscribe button within an email, only to be met with multiple forms to fill out before the process is (hopefully) completed. Well, Google has heard these woes, commenting, “You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to stop receiving unwanted messages from a particular email sender.” And the best part? Google has built these requirements on ‘“open standards,’ ” meaning that once senders implement them, every user will benefit.

Protection, Protection, Protection

Heading into 2024, the name of the game for Google is protection. Google already has many protective features for email, including safe browsing, suspicious link identification, unrecognized log-in alerts, email encryption, confidential mode, and now, a spam rate threshold. In an effort to create ‘“less spammy’ spammy” inboxes, Google will require bulk senders to stay under a 0.3% spam complaint rate threshold. To put this in perspective, if you sent 1,000 emails in one day, you would only need 3 of those emails to be marked as spam to reach this threshold, and if that happens, you could lose access to users’ inboxes. Now, you can probably see why we went into such detail explaining SPF, DKIM, and DMARC – —to help ensure your messages get to where they need to go without being marked as spam along the way.

Tips for Dodging the Spam Folder

In addition to the new guidelines that Google has outlined, we have some recommendations of our own to help you dodge the spam folder. For starters, you need to be investing in a value-first email strategy. What does that mean? It means that your email marketing materials provide immediate value that is relevant to the recipient and potentially solves a pain point or problem. This plays into our next suggestion, which is that relevance is key. Gone are the days of unwanted, cold emails. Not only are these emails not well received by most recipients, but they’re often reported as spam, which, as we discussed, is a no-go moving forward. Finally, we highly recommend that you not only implement the email authentication methods proposed by Google but also make it simple for your recipients to unsubscribe from your emails. Remember, if you hide your unsubscribe button or make it so the recipient can’t easily find it, you’re more likely to get marked as spam – —and that’s not the vibe in 2024!

Final Thoughts 

Even though you might not send enough emails to be considered a bulk sender, these updated requirements are something every business owner (or, let’s be honest, anyone who uses email at all) should be aware of. We hope this article provided you with not only an overview of Google’s new guidelines but also actionable steps that you can take going forward to improve your email marketing efforts. However, if you’re still struggling to get your email marketing on track, why not reach out to our experts at Tulip Media Group? Our comprehensive email marketing service will help you capture qualified leads, bolster your online presence, and position yourself as an industry leader!

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