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Email DMARC Policy Updates: Four Ways to Avoid Message Rejection

By Sarah Perry

February 1, 2024

dmarc policy updates

We’ve all been there. 

An urgent email from our boss lands in our inbox. “Click this link to purchase 50 Amazon gift cards for the office, ASAP.” 

So, of course, we click the link — it’s from our boss.

Poof. We’ve been duped. 

We discovered that the email actually came from a cybercriminal with an email and domain address disguised as our boss’s — a tactic known as email spoofing. And thanks to this cybercriminal, our machine and enterprise are now vulnerable to all kinds of digital threats, from keylogging to rootkits.

This is why Google and Yahoo are implementing a required Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) policy designed to combat threats like email spoofing. Here’s what you need to know about the new policy requirement, why it’s happening and how to prepare for the update.

What’s a DMARC Policy?

A DMARC policy tells receiving servers how to handle incoming mail. For messages to be delivered to receivers, they first need to pass through a series of security alignment checks defined by the policy’s requirements. The checks confirm validity before arriving in a receivers’ inbox, protecting both users and brands from exploitation.

What’s Changing?

On October 3, 2023, Google and Yahoo announced that bulk email senders will be required to have a DMARC policy in place beginning February 2024, which is big news. According to Oberlo, Google and Yahoo email clients make up one-third of the email user market share.

Specifically, here’s what’s changing: 

  • One-Click Unsubscribe: All email newsletters and promotional messages must include a clear, conspicuous unsubscribe link that allows recipients to opt-out of their subscription with one click.
  • Limit Spam Complaints: To avoid deliverability issues and spam folder filtering, senders must maintain a spam complaint rate of less than 0.3% per month. Senders will also be required to monitor complaint reports and optimize their messaging based on receiver feedback.
  • Require Email Authentication: To distribute marketing emails and newsletters, senders most confirm their identity and security, as well as authenticate messages in accordance with Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) or DMARC protocols. Bulk emails that lack proper authentication may be flagged as spam.

Why Is This Change Happening?

Implementing a DMARC policy on your website’s root domain can help protect you from phishing and spam attacks. It can also limit your brand’s and recipients’ exposure to potentially fraudulent and harmful messages. 

Who Is Affected by These New Email Requirements?

Everyone. Especially organizations that send more than 5,000 emails per day. 

And if you don’t meet these new requirements, you’ll experience deliverability issues with emails sent to Google and Yahoo email addresses. 

If an email sender fails to meet DMARC criteria, their emails won’t be delivered. This includes messages sent by third-party email service providers (ESPs), like HubSpot and MailChimp, on behalf of an organization.

So, make sure you’re following best practices for email list hygiene to avoid distributing emails to contacts who are not engaged or opted-out of your email marketing.

What Next? Four Actions To Be Successful in the New DMARC World

We put together this checklist to help you meet the new Google and Yahoo sender requirements:

Verify your root domain has a DMARC policy

DMARC authentication is set up in your DNS provider (like GoDaddy or Cloudflare). If you don’t have a DMARC policy in place, you’ll want to set one up on your root domain that contains the following:

v=DMARC1; p=none;‍

If you already have a DMARC policy in place, you don’t need to make any changes to your p tag. Just make sure you have an rua tag set up with a valid email address included in your policy. 

Note: You don’t need to add an additional policy to the subdomain used for sending.

If you’re unsure if your root domain has a policy in place, you can use a third-party tool to help you update and manage your DMARC policy (like this DMARC Record Checker).

Make sure you have a branded sender domain set up

Don’t use Gmail or Yahoo email addresses in your “from” address. If you are using or @yahoo in the “from” address of your emails, switch to your website domain.

Branded, or dedicated sending domains, give you better control over your sender reputation. 

Make sure your “from” name and “from” address match each other

This is what subscribers see in their inbox as your brand’s “from” name and email address, And in order for these to pass the new sender requirement, you need these to match. 

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Audit your email templates to ensure that you have an unsubscribe link in your emails. These links are typically located in the email footer. While the unsubscribe link doesn’t need to be a one-click, make sure it’s obvious and easy for recipients to opt-out.

More Email Sender Changes Coming in 2024

In February 2024, bulk senders who don’t meet sender requirements will start getting temporary errors on a small percentage of their non-compliant email traffic. These temporary errors are meant to help senders identify email traffic that doesn’t meet DMARC guidelines so that senders can resolve issues that result in non-compliance.

In April 2024, Google will start rejecting a percentage of non-compliant email traffic and gradually increase the rejection rate. For example, if 75% of a sender’s traffic meets DMARC requirements, Google will start rejecting a percentage of the remaining 25% of traffic that isn’t compliant.

Bulk senders have until June 1, 2024, to implement one-click unsubscribe in all promotional messages.

Making Sure Your Email Strategy Hits DMARC 

We know this update can seem daunting, but Noble Studios is here to guide you every step of the way. 

Our team of email marketing experts can assist your organization with updating DMARC records, configuring branded sending domains and ensuring your emails meet Google and Yahoo’s email sender requirements for 2024. 

Whether you need a full email audit or just have a few DMARC questions, contact us to talk about how we can help enhance your email deliverability. 

Let’s make sure you’re fully prepared and avoid any delivery hiccups down the road. Reach out today to get started!

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