*** This is an important blog for anyone who uses email marketing in their business. If you send email newsletters via an email marketing platform like Mailchimp, MailerLite, Active Campaign, Hubspot or ConvertKit (and many more) then it is important that you understand some changes that are coming from the 1st February. ***

What’s happening?

From February 1st, Google and Yahoo will start imposing much stricter authentication standards on email marketers in an attempt to reduce the amount of spam emails that their users are getting. 

Why does this affect me?

If you send email newsletters or use an email marketing tool to deliver courses or content then you will need to make sure that you meet the new requirements or your emails will not be delivered. 

What do I need to do? 

There are several changes that are being made, some might not apply to you as you are already do them but here is a quick explanation:

1. You can’t use a free email address to send marketing emails anymore. You need a custom domain.

This means that if you are using an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com address you will need to switch to a domain based email (mine is alice@alicejennings.co.uk). A domain is relatively inexpensive (under £20/year and many domain providers offer cheap or free email hosting. 

2. You MUST authenticate your domain in several ways: 

Using SPF (Sender Protocol Framework) – When a tool such as MailerLite sends marketing emails they are pretending to be you and send the email on your behalf.  SPF Authentication tells the email filters that you have given permission for the email marketing tool to send the emails on your behalf. 

Using DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail) – When you send an email there is a chance that someone could intercept it and change the content before sending it on. DKIM puts a signature into your email which the email filters check against a signature on your domain record to make sure that no-one has tampered with the content.  

Using DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) – This one is a little different as Google have said they only require it for those sending over 5000 emails a day but other email tools say it’s required for “bulk senders” without defining exactly what this means.

If your list is large then you must also use DMARC but the general feeling is that all users should set this up as best practice.. DMARC is a set of instructions to the email tools to tell them what to do if they get an email that appears to be from your domain but which doesn’t meet their authentication requirements (potentially someone trying to impersonate you). DMARC is more complex than SPF and DKIM as if you get it wrong then potentially all emails from your domain will be blocked so it’s important to ensure that SPF and DKIM are working correctly for all your email senders before you set this up. 

NOTE An extra consideration for anyone using other platforms to send email on their behalf is that these platforms will also require authentication in order that they are still able to send emails for you. This would include email tools like Google Workspace, Microsoft Exchange, CRM tools like Dubsado, Finance tools like Plutio or ClientJoy and many more. Do an inventory of all your tools and find the ones that need authentication.

3. You will need to have low spam rates

The way that spam will be calculated is going to change. Previously if you sent 1000 emails and 10 people reported spam then you would have a spam rate of 1%. From February the spam rate will be based on the number of people interacting with your emails. If you sent 1000 emails, 500 people interacted and 10 people reported as spam you would have a spam rate of 2%. 

You will need a spam rate of below 0.3 from February or your emails will not be delivered. 

There are lots of ways to reduce the likelihood of your emails be marked as spam, the majority are best practice such as:

  • Use double opt in to ensure that everyone on your list chose to be there.
  • Regularly clean your list to remove inactive subscribers who are more likely to report you as spam.
  • Don’t buy email lists (you wouldn’t do this though anyway I’m sure!)
  • Send regular emails so your subscribers look forward to your content.

 4. Subscribers must be able to unsubscribe with a single click from the header of the email.

One click unsubscribe will be required, no choosing which lists you want to be on or entering the email address you want to unsubscribe with. Your email marketing tool should take care of this one for you but you should be aware just in case..

WHAT NEXT? 

The first step to authentication is to find out whether you are already set up or not. The easiest way to do this is by sending an email from the tool you want to check (i.e. MailerLite or your Google Workspace hosted email) to a gmail account. Once the email arrives there are 2 places to check. 

I’ve made a quick guide to show you the steps.

Where to get help

Your email marketing tool provider should have information about how to set up your authentication.  They won’t know about any other services you are using (Google workspace etc so make sure your authentication includes other services too before switching on DMARC).

If you want to learn all the details then I recommend this training from Cheryl Rerick (aff link). This is an affiliate link to a free webinar with all the details you need about the changes. I had my authentication done but have also purchased her training to ensure I understand every last detail… I love a bit of geekery!  

If you would rather it was done for you, I also have some limited availability to help with set up. Drop me an email at alice@alicejennings.co.uk and I’ll be in touch.

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