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Google & Yahoo Changes

Google and Yahoo have put forth new bulk email standards starting Feb 1st, 2024. Educational email marketers need to be aware of these new standards because over 50% of all US school districts use Google email services. Don’t be fooled by the lack of @Gmail domains.  Google email services can use district and school domain names and their services provide school and district email administrators’ powerful tools to control many different email analysis areas.  We will discuss these below in generic form but recognize that Google services and other email security software services / solutions provide administrators a lot of tools to control their environments as tight or loose as they wish. 

Google / Yahoo Changes 2024

The new Google bulk email standards will likely apply to most email marketers.  But even if they do not apply to your company, we recommend your company adhere to them anyway.  These are all administered by technology, and it is hard to say how flexible all the intermediary players will be.  If you choose to ignore these standards, you may be blocked or blacklisted without any ability to recover. The technical definition of a bulk emailer (according to Google) is any company that sends more than 5,000 messages in a day.

Here are the three things you MUST do to comply with the new Google email standards:

Authenticate Your Email.

Your sending Email Services Provider (ESP) needs to authenticate your emails following established best practices like SPF, DKIM and DMARC.  For those readers that are not technical, we will briefly explain these three methods below.  But make sure your ESP provider (or email administrator) is aware that they need to do all three of these standards. Not complying with these standards will likely lead to your messages being blocked by Google.  MCH Strategic Data employs all three methods on all emails deployed for our customers.

SPF – Sender Policy Framework

This is a list of “authorized” IP addresses that can send the email message on behalf of the sending domain.  Remember a sending domain can have many IP addresses associated with it.  This helps receiving domains find unauthorized IP addresses trying to pretend to be an authorized sender and block messages from those unknown IP addresses.  Think of this a little like caller ID.  The receiving domains can basically see who is calling (from the authorized IP list) and block unknown messages that come from IP addresses not on the list. 

DKIM – Domain Keys Identified Mail

An encrypted key sent with the promotional email message where the receiving email service provider can validate (complete) the key from the sender’s location (domain).  This makes it hard to send emails that pretend to be someone else if the domain that completes the key is not actually the domain being spoofed. Think of it like your credit card company calling you up to make sure you are making a particular purchase.  The sending domains have to identify themselves properly or they are blocked.

DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance

An email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol. It helps domains address domain spoofing and phishing attacks by preventing unauthorized use of the domain name in the “Friendly-From” address of email messages. DMARC allows the domain owner to specify how unauthenticated messages should be treated by Mailbox Processors.  Think of this as permission to use my name.  If an email arrives with a from line domain that is NOT the domain sending it – is that OK? The from line domain can publish a policy that specifies if that is ever allowed. 

Enable Easy Unsubscribe
Enable Easy Unsubscribe.

The second new requirement is that bulk senders must ensure an easy one-click unsubscribe process and honor unsubscribe within two days.  Violators will be blocked from all future sends.

Emails That Engage
Send Emails That Engage.

Gmail and Yahoo will enforce a clear spam rate threshold that senders must stay under.  Google has currently advised that a sender’s complaint rate should be below 0.1% (best practice) and avoid a rate above 0.3% (naughty rate).  If your educational marketing messages are generating a lot of reported “spam” designations from recipients, then you will get blocked quickly.

These are the new standards that will be enforced on ALL bulk senders equally.  Failure to adhere to these will likely destroy any campaigns’ chances of getting delivered.  But these are far from the only things that are important for educational inbox placement success.  Continue on to dive into the other things your company should be doing for each promotional email sent. 

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