It’s the first day of school for your cherubic third grade kiddo. Everyone bustles with crackling energy as you stand waiting for the bus to come and pick up your precious cargo. Your third grader turns to wave as they leap up the last step and disappear inside the bus. You breathe an ever so slightly discernible sigh visible to all at the bus stop.

Only on this day, and nearly every other day afterward, the school bus is stopped at the entry of the school because, for some reason, the bus doesn’t adhere to the school’s strict codes. Sure, maybe the bus sneaks through some days as it’s tucked in a long line of other “good” buses, but most days it’s blocked at the gate.

You are a frustrated parent wondering what must be done.

Email marketing has always endured a bit of this challenge. Beginning in the first quarter of 2024, it’s about to get harder. Gmail and Yahoo are set to begin enforcing much more robust rules changing a best practice into a standard. 

Here they are:

1. Authenticate Your Email:

  • Ensure DMARC authentication by publishing a DMARC record for your domain.
  • Messages must be authenticated by SPF and/or DKIM.
  • Set your DMARC enforcement policy to none.

2. Make It Easy To Unsubscribe:

  • Include a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the email body.
  • Ensure the unsubscribe process is user-friendly and requires just one click.

3. Ensure You’re Sending Wanted Emails:

  • Avoid sending unsolicited or irrelevant emails.
  • Gmail and Yahoo will enforce strict spam complaint rate thresholds.
  • Gmail requires a spam complaint rate reported in Postmaster tools to be below 0.1% and strictly avoids rates of 0.3% or higher.

Besides the technical issues of #1 (talk to your technical team about this) and the “no brainer” of #2, you will absolutely want to confirm your complaint rate through your Email Service Provider (ESP) or third party marketers.

For those using a shared-service ESP such as Mailchimp, Zoho, Constant Contact, Active Campaign, or Hubspot, your rates may be higher. Why? Unless you purchase a discrete IP, those services lump millions of email sends from all sorts of organizations together. Unfortunately, some of those emails are from bad actors with poor results. Your email can be caught in the backwash of these bad actors on their shared IP address. 

In case you were wondering, at Outreach, our promotional emails receive a .01% complaint rate. (The new standard is .1%) We achieve this through a few very important tactics.

  1. We lease 11 dedicated IP addresses. (This means no other organization can send email and dirty up our IP addresses.)
  2. We send three pieces of content for every marketing message. Many email subscribers accept (without complaint) promotional messages as long as they receive sufficient helpful and interesting content with consistency. This is our hardworking content team’s goal every day. Consequently, our promotional email receives low complaint levels—less than 10 times the new threshold!

Even though leasing dedicated IP addresses cost additional money, we want each email we send to reach the widest possible audience. Ultimately, what you (as well as our own marketing team) care about most is getting your message into the inbox. Here is a year-to-date snapshot from one of our ESPSs (we use 2):

That is a lot of email making its way into inboxes!

Ultimately, this type of change will help legit marketers by (hopefully) removing more bogus email from inboxes while leaving your best email more visible to each subscriber.