Mastering Spam: New Gmail And Yahoo Rules Take Effect In February

Email marketers are facing an imminent compliance deadline. But it has nothing to do with a regulatory body.  

Rather, they must observe new requirements for bulk email senders issued by Gmail and Yahoo. And they have until February to do it. 

Presumably, most legitimate email marketers are already observing these rules, or are well on the way to doing so. But here is a refresher based on a new blog post from Litmus.

Any entity that sends more than 5,000 emails to Google and Yahoo addresses must adhere to the following three-step protocol: 

1. Authenticate their emails using security protocols like DKIM, SPF, and DMARC. As Gmail says: “This will close loopholes exploited by attackers that threaten everyone who uses email.”

Litmus explains the authentication tools as follows (and we quote): 

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) allows you to specify the IP addresses or domains that can send emails on your behalf.
  • DomainKeys Identified Email (DKIM) is a standard that lets you add a digital signature to the emails you send. Thus, email providers like Yahoo and Gmail can verify that an email came from you and not an impersonator.
  • Domain-Based Messaging Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is a security protocol that aligns your SPF and DKIM policies and defines how mailbox providers should handle an email that fails an authentication check. 



2. Implement one-click list-unsubscribe, and honor unsubscribes within two days. This will allow recipients to stop receiving unwanted messages from a sender. 

As Litmus writes: “To avoid spam complaints, make sure your unsubscribe link gets a visible spot in every one of your email templates. You want people to find it easily and be able to quickly opt out. Otherwise, they won’t hesitate to report you as spam.” Litmus also urges you to have a robust preference center.   

3. Maintain a spam complaint rate under 0.3% (no more than three spam reports for every 1,000 messages).

Litmus urges the following:

  • Avoid emailing people without permission. Don’t purchase email databases.
  • Include a visible unsubscribe link in every email.
  • Remove subscribers who mark you as spam right away and never email them again.

“We aren’t the only ones pushing for these changes,” Gmail wrote when announcing the requirements in October. “Our industry partners also see the pressing need to institute them.” 

Yahoo agrees that these “common sense, high-impact changes” should become the new industry standard, says Marcel Becker, senior director, product at Yahoo.

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