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A Review Of Gmail’s 2024 Deliverability Changes: What You Need To Know

3 Jan
2024
A Review Of Gmail’s 2024 Deliverability Changes: What You Need To Know

Okay, so big news here.

Starting in February 2024, Google is making changes to Gmail and deliverability that is going to shake things up. And not in a little way, but in a big way.

This isn’t the email apocalypse, but if you send 5,000 emails or more a day, it’s time to adapt and make some changes.  But, regardless of your email sending volume, these updates are worth applying to your strategy to ensure optimal email deliverability.

Here are the  three main areas you need to pay attention to:

  1. Authentication: DKIM, SPF, and DMARC. (this is the deliverability part!)
  2. One-Click Unsubscribe
  3. Engaged Sending

In this post, we will break down the Authentication process, how it works, what it does, and how to use it.

Understanding The Role of Sending Domains What do we need to authenticate exactly? Well, Google wants to make sure that it’s closing out the loopholes that attackers use to send spam/scam email content. It does that by enforcing that especially those high-volume senders do the work to authenticate their sending domains.

When you receive bulk marketing emails, they typically arrive in one of two formats:

Via XYZ.com:

- Sender Name: Name@name.com

- Example: Name@name.com

Via xyz . com

- Without "Via" Tag:Sender Names: Name@name.com, Name@e.name.com

The key distinction lies in the absence of the "Via xyz . com" tag, which is usually removed when the sender is added to contacts or engaged with.

Take a moment to check your inbox using a desktop app for a clearer picture of how your emails look to your customers.

Now let's talk about the two main components of the first part of this update. (We’ll cover the Engaged Sending update in another post.)

//[inject:ad-reviews]

SPF and DMARC: What They Do, and The Drawbacks

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) “prevents spammers from sending unauthorized messages that appear to be from your domain.”

Think of SPF as a script placed on your domain provider to declare to the internet the specific IPs authorized to send emails on your behalf.

Here's a snippet for reference:

v=spf1 mx include:_spf.sendlane.com ~all

This script, located wherever your domain is hosted (GoDaddy, Namecheap, Shopify), ensures your emails display "Via xyz . com."

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) empowers domain owners to dictate how receiving servers handle unauthorized or unauthenticated messages. This isn't checked as often as most people like, and it's easy to manipulate.

With this “two-man team” setup, you are leaning more on the sending IP and domain, less based on your own domain strength.

Many of you have likely encountered similar setups for customer service help desks, websites, and email inboxes.

However, there's a catch with SPF and DMARC: They lack validation.

That’s where DKIM comes into play.

The Big Update: Transitioning The Verified Sending Infrastructure of DKIM

SPF and DMARC aren’t something we throw in the trash. These are going to partner up with DKIM to become a team to fill the gaps that spammy bulk senders are still managing to get through.

DKIM

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) serves as the stamp of validation for your sending infrastructure. It grants full control to your sender domain, allowing it to send on your behalf and validating the email's authenticity.

In simpler terms, by linking your domain to the sending IP, you've granted full permission to send on your domain.

SPF and DKIM work hard to block spam, while DMARC tells “receiving servers what to do with messages from your domain that don’t pass SPF or DKIM.” Everything is working together to prevent spam from landing in inboxes, and if we as bulk senders aren’t making it easier for the inboxes to know what this information is and if it’s validated, well, say bye-bye deliverability and ROI.

Here are a couple of pro tips for getting things set up:

- Shopify users may benefit from a FREE Cloudflare account for enhanced domain control during setup.

- To safeguard your main domain, consider using a SUBDOMAIN for your email infrastructure (e.g., e@e.yourdomain.com).

Now, let's explore the setup process and the often-overlooked warm-up phase.

Unveiling the Setup and Warm-up Process

SPF and DMARC: Script Implementation

Simply copy the snippet into your domain and ensure you consolidate your domain allowances to avoid "too many DNS Lookups" errors.

As a reminder, this is the example script: v=spf1 mx include:_spf.sendlane.com ~all

Tools like MXtoolbox can help assess your current setup. There's no need for a warm-up; this is a standard setup.

After you’ve done this, you’ve verified that your sender domain above-mentioned is really you.

DKIM: Starting Fresh

Setting up a new DKIM and domain wipes your historical or current sending reputation. You should treat it like a new dedicated IP, with the advantage of easier volume scaling due to shared infrastructure.

In Layman's Terms, you've informed the internet that this domain is authorized to send!

DKIM Warm-Up Plan

The good news is you should have plenty of historical data available and ready to deploy your warmup strategy. Start by “flipping” your automation flow emails to your new DKIM email.

The natural flow of fresh, new leads can help you warm up a little quicker. PRO Tip: If you are using any 3rd party data-related tools that provide you leads, this is a time to PAUSE those while you warm up.

Here is a sample strategy:

Day 0: Send to 1-7 day recent clickers (Volume: 500-3000).

Day 1: Send to 2-14 day recent clickers (Volume: 2500-7,500).

Pause: Review each TLD (Top-Level Domain, like Gmail or Yahoo) to ensure acceptance is happening by using the trendline of open rates.  For instance, Gmail should show 15-20% open rates, Yahoo and AOL should be similar, etc.

Day 2: Continue to expand your click—Usually 3 - 30 day clickers (Volume sizing: 3,500 - 10,000)

Day 3: Same as before, expand audience set to 7,000-20,000

Day 4: same - 14,000-40,000 etc.

Pause: Review each TLD to ensure acceptance is happening by using the trendline of open rates.

Once you exhaust your clickers, you move to your openers, WITHOUT apple privacy mail. (You should have segments set up for that. )

Now that you’ve gone through a good warm up you can start scaling with your updated open data.

Grab your 3-day open rate, 7 day, 14 day, 30 day... and start scaling your volume WITH the above clickers you've already been sending to.

The key is simple, at this time, you should be able to double volume each send to get to full scale, which shouldn't be too far off at this point.

And make sure you continue to watch your reporting and review each TLD to ensure acceptance is happening by using the trendline of open rates looks consistent as you increase volume.

Navigating the Technical Waters: Tips for Success

- Avoid Mass Blasting: Gradual scaling is key; avoid burning your domain reputation.

- Continuous Monitoring: Watch reporting and review each TLD to ensure acceptance as you increase volume.

For performance success:

- You might see a performance improvement if you're on a lower-reputation IP shared pool.

- You will get the protection of your own domain reputation, protecting you from outside reputation issues that could occur when you are simply set up on a more traditional SPF/DMARC setup. And if this all seems like decoding ancient hieroglyphics, fear not! Reach out to your ESP for support.

//[inject:ad-demo]

Embracing the Change

Remember, this is MANDATORY for Gmail in Feb 2024. Don't procrastinate, and wait until the day before these requirements go live. You need to use this time now to get your authentication in check and to start your DKIM warm up processes.

If you’re a Sendlane user and you have questions or want some help with this update, just reach out and our team of email experts will jump in and help you through the challenging points so that February goes off without a hitch.

Check out our next post to get the low down on Engaged Sending right here.

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