February 2024 Gmail & Yahoo Mail Policy Changes: New requirements

February 2024 Gmail & Yahoo Policy Changes
Alex Kachalov Alex Kachalov 01 march 2024, 09:21 831
For beginners

Gmail and Yahoo Mail, the two most popular email providers, recently announced major changes for businesses sending emails to their users, which start to take effect in February 2024. Businesses that don’t comply will experience issues delivering emails to their subscribers.

We’ll explain these changes in a way that’s easy to understand and ensure you don’t fall behind.

Why are Gmail and Yahoo enacting new rules for email senders?

Gmail and Yahoo are introducing new requirements to protect users from spam and unwanted emails. These requirements will apply to all parties who send out 5,000 or more emails daily.

Spam has always been a major problem on the Internet. Lately it has seen a noticeable increase as spammers now use artificial intelligence (AI) tools to automate their activities.

The new requirements revolve around authentication, unsubscribe links, and reducing spam complaint rates. Email authentication has always been a long-standing best practice for businesses, but Gmail and Yahoo are now making it compulsory. If you want to keep sending emails to your subscribers, you have no choice but to comply with these techniques.

The new requirements are:

  • Setting up proper email authentication for the domain you send emails from.
  • Allowing recipients to unsubscribe with a single click (UniOne got you covered here).
  • Keeping spam complaint rates below 0.3%.

How to adhere to the Gmail and Yahoo Mail changes

Verify the authentication status of your domain names

Gmail and Yahoo now require every sender to authenticate the domain names they use to send emails. Hence, the first step is to verify if email authentication is properly set up for your domain. If not, you must take immediate steps to avoid deliverability issues once the rules take effect.

There are three main email authentication techniques:

  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)

The three methods involve adding specific records to your domain name system (DNS) settings. These records enable Gmail and Yahoo Mail to verify that emails claiming to originate from your domain are legit and are not sent by a malicious actor impersonating your domain.

Let’s discuss these methods below.

DKIM authentication

DKIM requires adding a specific TXT record to your domain’s DNS settings on your registrar account. At UniOne, we provide the required records to add to your DNS settings.

The record you’ll add contains a public key that every email provider, including Gmail and Yahoo, can fetch. This public key is paired with a private key stored on the server your email originates from. All your emails are signed with the private key.

When an email comes from your domain, Gmail or Yahoo Mail uses the public key to verify its digital signature. A successful check guarantees that the email has indeed been sent from your domain and has not been tampered with while transferred. If it fails, the email is deemed illegitimate and sent to the spam folder or rejected entirely.

SPF authentication

An SPF record is another TXT record in your domain’s DNS settings. This record lists all the IP addresses of all servers allowed to send emails on your domain's behalf. When an email originates from your domain, Gmail or Yahoo Mail will verify if it comes from an authorized IP address by looking up the SPF record.

At UniOne, we provide the necessary SPF records for our users. You just copy the record and add it to your DNS settings.

DMARC policy

DMARC is not an authentication technique by itself. Instead, it is a way to specify what exactly mailbox providers should do if an email purportedly coming from your domain fails the verification checks.

You must first configure SPF or DKIM before setting up DMARC. The new Gmail and Yahoo Mail changes include compulsory DMARC policies for all bulk senders who send over 5,000 emails daily. But even if you have not yet reached the threshold, it’s wise to set up a DMARC policy along with SPF or DKIM for email authentication.

There are three possible DMARC policies for a receiving server to take if a message fails the verification check:

  • p=none - Do nothing
  • p=quarantine - Send the message to the spam folder
  • p=reject - Reject the message entirely

Your DMARC policy needs to be added as a CNAME record in your DNS settings.

Make unsubscribing simple

Gmail and Yahoo Mail changes include making it easy for recipients to unsubscribe from your email list if they no longer want your messages. This rule has long become an industry standard and a statute of various regulations, including America’s CAN-SPAM ACT.

Gmail and Yahoo Mail specifically require bulk email senders to provide a one-click unsubscribe link. In other words, every email should contain an unsubscribe link (usually placed at the footer) that the recipient can click to remove their address from your mailing list. You must honor their request within 2 days and avoid sending them further messages, lest your domain gets marked for spam.

At UniOne, we provide a one-click unsubscribe button for our customers, so they don’t have to worry about this rule. If you rely on your own code to handle unsubscribe requests, you may also use the List-Unsubscribe-Post header, which provides one-click unsubscribe functionality. This new header can be used both in email/send web API calls and with SMTP API.

Example of an email with an unsubscribe link

Keep your spam complaint rate under 0.3%

The spam complaint rate is the percentage of recipients who reported your messages for spam. For example, if you send 1,000 messages and 15 people report you for spam, your spam complaint rate is 15/1000 = 0.015 or 1.5% expressed as a percentage.

Gmail and Yahoo Mail policies now require email senders to keep their spam complaint rate under 0.3% or face consequences.

Emails get marked as spam for many reasons, but the most common is sending messages too frequently. People who receive too many messages from you can quickly get irritated and report your address for spam, so you should avoid this behavior.

To monitor spam complaints from Gmail users, you’ll need to sign up for Google Postmaster Tools. This free tool allows you to analyze your email performance, ranging from spam reports to delivery errors and feedback. Yahoo has announced a similar tool called Sender Hub but it’s still in beta and has limited features. However, once it’s fully operational, Yahoo’s Sender Hub will allow email senders to analyze their spam complaints and other performance reports on Yahoo Mail users.

Source: Yahoo

With Google Postmaster Tools and Yahoo Sender Hub at your disposal, it’ll be easy to keep tabs on your spam complaint rate and ensure it stays below the required 0.3%. But even though 0.3% is what the new Gmail and Yahoo Mail rules require, you can strive to go much below that. Aim for under 0.1% for maximum safety; it’s unsafe to be at a level where your complaint rate can easily cross 0.3% and cause problems.

The bottom line

Gmail and Yahoo Mail are the two most popular email providers, with over 1.5 billion and 200 million active users, respectively. Hence, businesses must understand and adhere to the new Gmail and Yahoo Mail changes.

We took the time to explain these changes in a way you can easily understand and provided tips on complying with them. At UniOne, we make it easy for businesses to follow these rules and avoid email deliverability issues.


What happens if my emails don’t meet these new requirements?

Your messages will likely end up in spam or get rejected if you don’t adhere to the new Gmail and Yahoo Mail policy changes. The new requirements come into effect gradually, but you should take the relevant steps asap.>

Why are Gmail and Yahoo Mail changing the requirements for email senders?

Both platforms said they’re changing the rules to protect users from spam and unwanted emails. The new requirements have long become part if the industry’s best practices, and now all bulk senders are obliged to implement them.

When do the changes come into effect?

The policy changes start rolling out gradually from February 2024, leaving some time to get industry feedback before a full rollout.

What’s the bulk threshold for the changes?

Gmail and Yahoo Mail regard those who send over 5,000 emails daily as bulk senders. This cohort is the primary target of the changes, although people under this level should also adhere to the new rules for maximum safety.

How will the Gmail and Yahoo Mail changes affect transactional email senders?

The new changes primarily target bulk marketing email senders. However, transactional email senders should also comply with the changes to get maximum email deliverability and engagement.

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