New (And Critical) Email Deliverability Changes For Gmail & Yahoo

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Starting February 2024, tighter email regulations on Gmail and Yahoo could drastically impact your email based engagement efforts. Let’s break down the new requirements and guide you through ensuring your emails land in inboxes, not spam folders.

The Change

Any users in your database and mailing lists with addresses ending in @gmail.com or @yahoo.com require the following:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) authentication: if you don’t already have
    • You’ll need to put SPF and DKIM records in place from each of your email communication providers. This includes email marketing providers like MailChimp, to transactional email providers like SendGrid. Same goes for fundraising apps that send emails directly.
    • If your organization uses WordPress for your website platform and you send emails from WooCommerce, Gravity Forms, or similar ecommerce or form providers, you’ll want to stop relying on native email delivery and begin using a transactional email provider.
    • If you have a web and/or IT provider that manages your DNS, be certain they are aware of these changes and have access to all the information they need to update your DNS records.
  • Keep Spam Rate Under 0.3%: Maintain a pristine reputation, experts recommend aiming for below 0.1%! 0.1%-0.3% is the warning zone: hover in that range too long and you still risk having your messages blocked.
    • If you use a provider that maintains those statistics, review a year’s worth of data.
    • Don’t toe the line. Once you get flagged by either provider, getting off that list is a herculean effort.
    • Make sure ALL of your emails have unsubscribe links, even those in plain text.
  • Double-Check Your DNS: Confirm your digital addresses match your domain, like matching your website and email platforms.
    • Try to use a dedicated email address for all outbound messages. Double check it uses the organization’s primary domain name and that address is used across multiple points of contact. Example: if you use WooCommerce, it should be the “From” address for all email receipts. If you run those WooCommerce messages through a transactional email provider (and you should!), that account should use the same email address as the sending account.

If your organization sends more than 5,000 messages per day, you’ll encounter some additional requirements:

  • In addition to SPF and DKIM, bulk senders must authenticate with DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance). Frankly, all organizations should have DMARC authentication in place at your DNS.
  • One-click unsubscribe links are not just recommend, but required.

If your organization gets flagged, it means ALL of your messages, regardless the source, coming from an email address with your primary domain will get blocked by Google and Yahoo with no potential to reverse the decision.

Consider Changing Your Approach

While the new email regulations apply to everyone, nonprofit arts and culture organizations face an extra challenge. Sending generic messages to large email lists, like year-end appeals, might land you in spam folders even before the new rules kick in.

Why? Because people crave connection, not generic blasts. They want to feel their support matters, that their interests are understood.

That’s where personalization comes in. Most email marketing platforms offer tools to tailor your messages based on:

  • Interests: Send ballet fans opening night news, not concert updates.
  • Engagement: Reward loyal donors with exclusive content.
  • Location: Highlight local performances for nearby supporters.
  • Custom Meta: Anything unique to your user base you can confirm and routinely track (think age groups).

By using these tools, you’ll shine a spotlight on your audience’s needs and passions, increasing engagement and avoiding the spam pitfall.

Next Steps

  • If you do not manage your DNS records in-house, reach out to your web and/or IT provider.
  • Review documentation on these new requirements from your email marketing, transactional email, or other email message-based provider. You should have no trouble finding it and any reputable provider is aware of and ready for the changes.
  • Consider creating a dedicated domain for email communication.

Resources

About Drew McManus

AvatarIn addition to my consulting business, I'm also the Principal of Venture Industries Online but don’t let that title fool you into thinking I'm just a tech geek. I bring 20+ years of global broad-based arts consulting experience to the table to help clients break the cycle of choosing one-size-fits-none solutions and instead, deliver options allowing them to get ahead of the tech curve instead of trying to catch up by going slower.

With the vision of legacy support strategy and the delights of creative insights, my mission is to deliver a sophisticated next generation technology designed especially for the field of performing arts. The first step in that journey began in 2010 when The Venture Platform was released, a purpose-designed managed website development solution designed especially for arts organizations and artists.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, lead a team of intrepid arts pros to hack the arts, lead an arts business incubator, and love a good coffee drink.

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