What email senders need to know about Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL’s new mandates

October 23, 2023 | 3 minute read
Josh Nason
Senior Email Delivery Consultant
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If you send more than 5,000 emails to Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL inboxes on any given day, you’re going to want to read this post because several of the biggest players in email recently announced some changes for bulk and marketing senders—ones that are great best practices regardless of where you are sending to.

Some changes go into effect in February 2024 with others being rolled out throughout the first half of the year.

SPF and DKIM still matter

Anyone that has interacted with the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Email Delivery team knows how much of an emphasis we put on email authentication: Sender policy framework (SPF), DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM), and related items like custom return paths.

Gmail validated their move last year to require that any email sent to a Gmail address must have some form of authentication, and as a result, “the number of unauthenticated messages Gmail users receive plummeted by 75%, which has helped declutter inboxes while blocking billions of malicious messages with higher precision.” In short, every sending domain must have the correct SPF and DKIM if you’re attempting to send to Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL inboxes. If you’re sending through OCI Email Delivery, senders should update their records using our SPF include and a new DKIM record created in OCI and then update them in whatever DNS provider the sender is using.

DMARC enforcement

Both are also requiring DMARC, another form of authentication that uses both SPF and DKIM, be set up for any sending domain. For an overview of what DMARC is and how to best set it up, see the blog post, Email authentication: How to understand DMARC in less than 10 minutes.

One-click subscription within 48 hours

Applicable to bulk/marketing email and not that of the transactional variety, the three providers are enforcing one-click unsubscription with the address needing to be removed by a bulk sender within 48 hours of the unsubscribe request. That process should be easy for bulk senders. Anything more complicated can lead to spam complaints and bigger issues.

To accomplish this, they are requesting that by June 1st of 2024, email senders add a list-unsubscribe function in the header of emails.

A one-click unsubscribe involves everything in the name. A recipient clicks a link and are automatically removed. No login is required and nothing dissuades the actual act of unsubscribing, which is a violation of CAN-SPAM rules.

It should be noted that Gmail has stated they will not send emails to the spam folder if they are missing this list-unsubscribe feature. Rather, it's a strong suggestion given that recipients might click the 'spam' button in greater numbers without an easy unsubscribe function, meaning the percentages of spam will go up which means overall lower inbox placement.

Send to those who want your email

Gmail continues to turn the heat up on sending too much email as they “enforce a clear spam rate threshold that senders must stay under to ensure Gmail recipients aren’t bombarded with unwanted messages.” For bulk senders, only send to those who have opted in to receive emails from your company and remove unengaged users from lists. Otherwise, your mail won’t get to the inbox for anyone.

As they have stated, “Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10% and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.3% or higher.” Postmaster is their free deliverability tool that senders can use to get a gauge on performance which provides those insights. How would a sender avoid those thresholds, you might ask? Easy: send to those recipients who opt in to receive email.

Yahoo and AOL are also looking for a subspam rate of .3% according to their updated best practices

The devil in the details

Gmail’s documentation and Yahoo’s best practices have a lot of smaller details that are worth a look. Examples include having valid forward and reserve DNS records, some IP insights, email formatting for forwarding, and more.

If you’re an OCI Email Delivery sender and you have questions on compliance, contact Josh Nason. If you’re not an Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Email Delivery sender, start your free trial today.

Josh Nason

Senior Email Delivery Consultant

An email marketing veteran of more than a decade, Josh came to Oracle through the acquisition of Dyn. He currently works on both the Dyn and OCI Email Delivery teams, both assisting customers with email delivery issues and helping keep the network clean.

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