Embrace the change: Exciting new email rules are revolutionizing the way we unsubscribe and market.
The Main Idea
Introducing the latest updates to our email rules. Consumers will now find it easier to unsubscribe from emails due to updated regulations. Marketers are able to adjust and modify their strategies as needed. Marketers need to prioritize optimizing for engagement rather than just focusing on volume. Privacy is of utmost importance. Consent and data privacy take center stage in email marketing strategies. For consumers, this could be a highly anticipated day. Introducing the latest updates to our email policies.
Farewell to the tiresome task of scrolling through an email until we reach the very bottom, squinting to find the tiny unsubscribe button, having to give a reason for unsubscribing, and then discovering that we’re still signed up for the weekly, biweekly, and monthly newsletters.
For marketers, the recent changes to email regulations by Google and Yahoo, which will take effect in February 2024, have significant implications. Subscribers will have the convenience of easily opting out of emails they no longer wish to receive.
Although the move will continue to decrease spam (Google’s AI defense systems already block almost 15 billion unwanted emails daily!), it is important for marketers to adapt their strategies to minimize the immediate effects and maximize long-term results.
How will the new email rules affect marketers?
According to the new email rules, bulk senders are now required to make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe with just one click. Additionally, they must ensure that the number of spam complaints remains below 0.3%. Google has provided details about how the change will affect those who send more than 5,000 messages per day. However, Yahoo has not given any specific information about volume qualifications. In any case, not following the instructions could lead to potential harm to the sender’s reputation, which can have an effect on marketing and customer experience results.
Most credible marketers have already been prepared by the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act and ISP anti-spam developments to include aspects like honoring unsubscribes and authenticating mail. According to Chip House, CMO of CRM platform Insightly, marketers who fail to prioritize customer engagement and value creation in their email strategies will experience a rapid decline in their number of emailable contacts.
A Beneficial Influence in the Long Term
According to Naomi West, a senior email and lifecycle marketer at customer.io, the Mail Privacy Protection update in September 2021 had a significant impact on marketers. It made “open rates” a less meaningful metric, which was a major change. Although there may be an increase in unsubscribes initially because of the new email rules, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the relationship has been lost. According to West, there are various methods to reach and establish a connection with customers, and email is just one of them. It is possible that some customers may prefer alternative ways of communication. Over time, the new email rules will ultimately bring about a positive outcome. This is because inbox providers will be able to identify genuine (brand) senders and enhance their ability to deliver emails successfully.
What should be given priority?
Colleen Groener, senior relationship marketing strategist at CX solutions provider Merkle, notes that even legitimate senders may experience challenges when trying to reactivate or win back lapsed or inactive subscribers. According to her, it is important for senders to focus on engaged subscribers for their campaigns in the short term. They should also work on improving reactivation journeys gradually.
Your Next-Best Steps: Reduce Impact, Maximize Opportunity
New Email Rules: Tactics
Basic Sender Authentication Compliance Steps
Reduce the impact, maximize the opportunity, and verify your email using DNS, SPF, DMARC, and DKIM protocols. According to Groener, a reliable email provider can assist you in efficiently automating unsubscribes. Having a DMARC in your DNS grants you the power to dictate whether or not to quarantine or reject those who are attempting to spoof you. According to West, an alternative option is to set this record to p=quarantine or p=reject. However, you can also choose to simply monitor this bad practice with p=none.
Revisit Email Templates
It is important to include a user-friendly “unsubscribe” option in the email header, which will lead to a one-click unsubscribe URL. Groener specifies that this feature is different from the standard unsubscribe link found in the footer. Instead of redirecting subscribers to a confirmation or preferences page within the brand’s domain, it offers a unique experience. If your email service provider (ESP) does not include it by default, make sure to manually add it to all the email templates you use.
The update requires the implementation of RFC 8058 List-unsubscribe-post, which, says West, your ESP should support. You have the option to unsubscribe from anyone the provider may bring to your attention using this header. According to her, creating a Google Postmaster account can be beneficial for monitoring your reputation with Google and improving your email strategies. It provides valuable information about your domain, IP health, and spam complaints originating from Gmail.
Revisit List Hygiene
Groener emphasizes the importance of maintaining a complaint rate of under 0.3% for bulk senders. Moving forward, he highlights the criticality of list hygiene. It is important to be aware that a damaged sender reputation can have more negative consequences than simply having someone unsubscribe from your emails. To prevent your emails from ending up in the spam folder, it is crucial to implement a strategic plan of action.
Revisit Audience Segments
According to House, implementing ultra-segmentation can lead to quick results. It is recommended to further refine your lists to make your messages more targeted and relevant.
Take a Fresh Look at Your Email Strategy
According to Tim Braz, CRO at Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Media, it’s important to begin now by carefully evaluating your email strategy, including the criteria for measuring success. Ensure that engagement is the primary factor when determining which audience segments and email lists to maintain, in order to keep them clean and up-to-date. Consider evaluating your existing CRM strategy and email campaign planning by collaborating with the marketing, product, customer success, and sales teams, as suggested by Tara Pawlak, the SVP marketing of B2B revenue intelligence platform Revenue Grid. This is extremely important, particularly when working with cross-functional teams.
Start Targeting Engaged, Addressable Audiences
The recent email updates align with the upcoming cookie deprecation in 2024, which will continue to reduce the size of the target audience. Eliminating reliance on third-party data requires your team to discover natural methods for capturing audience attention. House recommends defining a user engagement strategy that builds a data-rich opt-in email list and first-party data that honors customer preferences. According to Pawlak, AI is becoming increasingly valuable for marketers who want to implement personalized and segmented strategies. It offers a range of exciting possibilities for sales and GTM teams, including content development, predictive analytics, and automated high-precision segmentation based on behaviors, engagement, and activities.
Transparent, Intuitive opt-in Empowers Customers
By investing in a consent and preference management platform, you can ensure ongoing and seamless engagement with your audience. This platform allows individuals to easily access and modify their preferences whenever they want, giving them full control over their personal information. Additionally, it provides customers with the option to “opt down” instead of being limited to a universal opt-out.
West suggests reviewing the expectations you set when collecting opt-ins from your customers. She claims that communication based on strong zero-party data and powered by consent is essential for fostering engagement and trust. Email marketers should prioritize the collection of valuable data and determine the optimal timing for gathering it throughout the customer journey. Instead of making assumptions, establish a connection where you can request the necessary information from customers when it is most appropriate and streamline the process to avoid unnecessary hurdles, she concludes.
Align Communication with Data Privacy and Security
Groener emphasizes the importance of adapting marketing strategies to keep up with the ever-changing privacy standards set by major companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo. This includes staying informed about updates such as iOS 15 and iOS 17, the deprecation of cookies, and the authentication changes in Gmail and Yahoo. In 2024, it will be crucial for organizations to integrate data security and privacy into their marketing strategy rather than treating them as separate entities.
Embracing a new mindset is crucial for confidently navigating strategic shifts, especially in light of the evolving email landscape. It’s important to prioritize what truly matters in order to adapt to the new rules. Take a look at these:
Better Unsubscribe Than SpamTag
According to House, recipient engagement such as opens, clicks, and replies is rewarded by Google and other inbox providers. Once you are marked as spam, your credibility is diminished in the eyes of the email provider. Embrace the concept of a reasonable amount of unsubscribing. Instead, create experiences that encourage people to willingly participate.
Value Above Volume
Braz suggests that in order to remain relevant, it is important to focus on creating valuable content rather than relying on sending a large number of emails to stay top-of-mind. Embrace the concept of prioritizing quality over quantity. Prioritize quality and meaningful engagement over reaching a large audience. Large figures and superficial metrics are irrelevant in today’s marketing landscape.
Reframe the Issue as an Opportunity
Emphasize the importance of cultivating a relationship based on trust and value rather than adopting a defensive stance when confronted with declining email volumes. Along with the best practices mentioned earlier, it’s important to consider an omni-channel approach. Not all customers have a preference for email. It is important to develop a comprehensive outreach strategy that includes multiple channels, such as email, mobile, social media, and other options, to provide customers with a variety of choices. This not only decreases reliance on any single channel but also gives customers the ability to select their preferred method of communication for different types of interactions.