A Deep Dive into Gmail’s 2024 Engaged Sending Changes

3 Jan
A Deep Dive into Gmail’s 2024 Engaged Sending Changes

Seatbelts, everyone; it’s going to get a bit bumpy.

In case you haven’t heard, Google recently released updates around significant email deliverability changes coming February 2024.

Three key areas are getting attention and changing the old ways we’ve been doing a few things. 

1. Authentication: DKIM, SPF, and DMARC

2. Easy One-Click Unsubscribe

3. Engaged Sending

We will dig into these items deeper, but first, it’s good to remember why they’re making these changes. 

Essentially, it’s to create a better user experience for Gmail users. Email is a huge marketing channel, and while many of us use it the right way, numerous bulk senders seem to deviate from current best practices, neglecting the user experience in the process.

As such, Google updates requirements to keep email as safe and spam-free as possible. But with “fewer holes in the wall,” meeting these new requirements will pose a challenge in ensuring your emails land successfully, even for those who've been good little email marketers.

Thanks to these new updates, engaged sending is more than just looking at the 90-day active, engaged click, open, or on-site sending data.  

The key focus here is that your audience genuinely wants to receive your emails, emphasizing the need to steer clear of any spammy content.  

So, let’s start with understanding SPAM complaints.

Unveiling the Mysteries of SPAM Complaints

SPAM complaints tend to come from these four primary channels:

Feedback Loops (FBLs)

Feedback Loops, or FBLs, involve a user clicking "This is Spam," creating a direct data loop back to the sender. Gmail uses the Google Postmaster Tools (GPMT) to facilitate Feedback Loops. This tool not only serves as a conduit for user feedback but also provides valuable insights through an API, enabling senders to access detailed information about the complaints and helping them understand and rectify the issues.

Direct User Feedback

Internet Service Providers vigilantly monitor user behavior and engagement with emails. User interactions, such as marking emails as spam or moving them to the junk folder still directly impact the sender's domain reputation.

Dissatisfied users can set off a chain reaction, adversely affecting your standing in the eyes of ISPs. A negative reputation can lead to emails being flagged as spam, ultimately affecting deliverability rates and the overall success of your email campaigns.

Direct Complaints from Spamhaus & SpamCop

Partnerships with providers like Spamhaus and SpamCop can directly impact the IP AND domain reputation, leading to blocked emails and a tarnished reputation. Most ISPs partner with these two, so don’t think you can skim under the radar.  Understanding and navigating these partnerships become critical for maintaining a good email reputation.


Three Lesser Known Ways Spam Complaints Happen 

Abuse Pages and Reports

Abuse pages serve as crucial communication channels between email service providers (ESPs) and users. They act as the first line of defense, enabling users to report instances of abuse, spam, or any other suspicious activity.

These abuse reports play a pivotal role in helping ESPs identify and rectify significant data issues. By analyzing the information provided in abuse reports, ESPs can swiftly address problems related to email deliverability, content violations, or potential security threats.

Public Platform and Social Media

When emails are sent to malicious entities or bots, the repercussions extend beyond the immediate recipient. Social media platforms and public forums become conduits for spreading the adverse effects, as these entities can publicly disclose the entire email content, including technical details such as headers.

Wrong Contact Info from CAN-SPAM Footer 

The CAN-SPAM Act mandates that commercial emails must include accurate contact information for the sender. Falsifying this information, even if seemingly minor, can have severe consequences. ESPs often monitor their users' compliance with CAN-SPAM regulations. A fake CAN-SPAM address raises red flags and may trigger further scrutiny, potentially leading to the suspension of the sender's account or other punitive measures.

The Spam Complaint Golden Rule 

The new metric, set to take effect in February 2024, demands a meticulous 0.2% spam complaint rate per Top-Level Domain (TLD) in 24 hours. It's more than just a guideline; it's a mandate, and non-compliance could potentially harm your email reputation, which can take a long time to fix.

Navigational Tips To Help You Stay Compliant 

Step #1: Do A Check Up On Your Sending Practices

Examine your sending practices closely. Are you emailing too often or not often enough? Finding the right balance is crucial to avoiding the choppy waters of spam complaints.

Pro Tip: The way you engage with your audience from the initial opt-in sets the tone for what's to come. So, it’s good to go back to the beginning of your email flows and automation to ensure you’ve re-aligned things ahead of the changes to come next year. 

Step #2: Audience and Segmentation is KING

You want to make sure we have this part right. There tend to be five signals in this area to help you figure out who should be getting what emails and how often one audience segment should be getting emails versus another.

  1. Initial Opt-in - What was the intent? Was it a coupon opt-in? Newsletter on site? Purchase opt-in? You should be segmenting based on where they come in to give you a clearer view of how they came to you and why. 
  2. Open - It means it's a real device, though not always an action or behavior. And since Apple makes it hard to track opens, this can be tricky but something to pay attention to. 
  3. Click - This almost always signals a real user. More clicks from certain users versus others can help you segment and bracket interest.
  4. On-Site - To buy from you, they must be on your website. Identifying users on-site generally means you have interested, engaged users, and you should track that on the backend. 
  5. Purchasing behavior - If the CC is pulled and swiped, the customer is real. A purchase is a big indicator of a customer saying, “Hey, I like you. Keep in touch so we can keep this relationship going.”

Don’t overlook segments—In fact, you should be utilizing them more often than you may think. So build them, and use these signals to pinpoint your most and least-engaged contacts. Adjust your email frequency accordingly, and personalize the content based on their unique interests. 


The Road Ahead: Evolving Email Marketing Strategies

As we stand on the cusp of a new era in email marketing, it's evident that success requires continuous evolution. Embrace emerging technologies, stay informed about industry trends, and proactively adapt your strategies.

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