Email deliverability is a big deal for your business. When you send out newsletters, promos, or important updates, it’s imperative they land in your customers’ inboxes, not in their spam folders. If your emails don’t get delivered, all that hard work goes down the drain, and your engagement rates take a hit.

Gmail and Yahoo Mail have recently introduced new email sending requirements. These changes benefit everyone doing business online and are intended to boost security, reduce spam, and improve email.

But for businesses, it means you need to make adjustments to how you send emails – immediately.

Here, we’ll explore what happens if you don’t meet these new requirements, walk you through the steps to get it right, and share some best practices to improve your email deliverability and engagement.

There’s no time to waste, so let’s begin.

Why are Gmail and Yahoo changing things?

Gmail and Yahoo are updating their email-sending requirements to enhance the security and quality of their email services. These changes are designed to protect users from spam, phishing attacks, and other forms of email fraud.

Let’s explore these key reasons a bit more:

Enhanced security

Both Gmail and Yahoo are tightening their email authentication protocols to prevent email spoofing and phishing. These new requirements will allow email providers to better verify the authenticity of emails. By default, this will make it more difficult for malicious actors to send emails from spoofed domains.

Reducing spam

Another major goal of these changes is to reduce the amount of spam that people receive. Gmail and Yahoo are implementing stricter spam complaint thresholds to ensure that only relevant and desired emails reach people’s inboxes. A low spam complaint rate will require that senders prioritize the overall user experience. If they comply, their emails will be more likely to be opened and read. Yes, setup will require effort on your part, but the potential for more read emails is worth it alone.

Legal compliance

These changes also align with global legal standards for email marketing, such as the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. Enforcing clearer unsubscribe mechanisms, for instance, will help Gmail and Yahoo ensure that email senders comply with legal requirements and provide people with easy ways to opt-out if they want.

Improving user experience

The ultimate goal of these updates is to enhance the overall email user experience. Too many people are bogged down by unwanted emails every day, so adding measures that help filter out unwanted emails and ensure that only legitimate, relevant messages are delivered will improve the UX for email.

What are the new Gmail and Yahoo requirements?

So you know the why, but what are these new changes? First, it’s important to know that these changes primarily affect bulk senders who send over 5,000 emails per day.

If that’s you – or it might be in the future – here’s a breakdown of the new rules:

Authentication protocols: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

The new requirements state that email senders will need to implement SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication protocols.

These protocols help to:

  1. Verify the sender’s domain.
  2. Ensure the email hasn’t been tampered with during transit.

The specific protocols are as follows:

  • SPF (Sender Policy Framework): This protocol verifies that emails are sent from authorized IP addresses for the sender’s domain.
  • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): DKIM adds a digital signature to emails, helping to verify that they have not been altered.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): DMARC builds on SPF and DKIM to provide a comprehensive email authentication strategy. It helps protect domains from being used in phishing and email spoofing attacks.

Spam rate thresholds

Beyond authentication, Gmail and Yahoo are also enforcing stricter spam complaint rate thresholds to reduce the amount of unwanted emails people receive. Senders must maintain a spam complaint rate below 0.3% to ensure their emails are delivered.

The desired rate for Gmail is even lower, at 0.1%. Exceeding these thresholds can result in emails being marked as spam or not delivered at all.

Unsubscribe mechanisms

Senders will also need to include a one-click unsubscribe link in their emails. This feature must be prominently placed, either in the header or footer and must allow people to easily opt out of receiving future emails with a single click.

No, oddly hidden-away unsubscribe links or multi-tier questionnaires to unsubscribe are permitted no longer.

This requirement will reduce spam complaints and keep businesses compliant with legal standards, too.

What happens if you don’t comply with these changes?

Failing to comply with the new email-sending requirements could have significant consequences for your business. These range from deliverability issues to potential damage to your reputation – even legal ramifications!

Here’s a detailed look at what could go wrong:

Deliverability issues

Non-compliance with the new requirements can impact your email deliverability:

  • Emails will be marked as spam: If you don’t meet the new authentication standards (SPF, DKIM, DMARC), your emails are more likely to be flagged as spam. These new protocols verify the legitimacy of the sender, and without them, your emails will be considered suspicious and filtered out.
  • Reduced inbox placement: Even if your emails aren’t marked as spam, they may not make it to the inbox. Non-compliance with spam rate thresholds means your emails might end up in the spam folder or be blocked entirely. Gmail and Yahoo are particularly vigilant about maintaining low spam complaint rates.
  • Delivery failures: Without proper DNS records and compliance with RFC 5322 standards, your emails may not be delivered at all. This technical non-compliance can lead to outright rejections by email servers, resulting in failed delivery attempts.

Potential reputation damage

As if your emails not being delivered wasn’t bad enough, ignoring these new requirements can also damage your reputation as an email sender:

  • Sender reputation score: Email providers track the reputation of your sending domain and IP addresses. High spam complaint rates, frequent delivery failures, and non-compliance with authentication protocols can all negatively impact your sender score. A poor reputation score means future emails are more likely to be blocked or flagged as spam.
  • Long-term impact on campaigns: A damaged reputation affects your current email campaign as well as your future ones. And restoring a tarnished reputation is a slow, tedious process. It means you’d have to be on your very best behavior for an extended period of time. But those prospects whose inboxes you landed into as spam? You can’t win them back.

Potential legal issues

Non-compliance can lead to legal problems, too:

  • CAN-SPAM Act violations: The CAN-SPAM Act requires businesses to provide clear unsubscribe mechanisms, among other things. Failing to include a one-click unsubscribe link or not honoring unsubscribe requests promptly can result in legal penalties. This act mandates that unsubscribe requests must be processed within 10 business days, but Gmail and Yahoo’s requirements are even stricter. You will need to make it easy and take prompt action or suffer the consequences.
  • Penalties and fines: Violations of email marketing laws can result in hefty fines. The CAN-SPAM Act, for instance, imposes penalties of up to $51,744 per email for non-compliance. Repeated violations can lead to more severe legal actions, including lawsuits and further regulatory scrutiny.

Step-by-step guide to preparing for email sender changes

To ensure your emails comply with these new requirements, we’ve put together detailed, step-by-step instructions. Let’s take on each aspect of this process individually.

Domain authentication

As you know by now, proper domain authentication is one of the key ways to prevent your emails from being marked as spam or rejected.

Here’s how to set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for your domain:

SPF setup

This process might vary a bit depending on the hosting provider or domain registrar you’re using, but this should still offer general insight into how to proceed.

To set up SPF, you need:

1. Access your DNS settings

Log in to your domain registrar or DNS hosting provider. Locate the Domains section and find where your DNS records are listed.

DNS record
Locate where your DNS records are listed.

2. Add an SPF record

Next, locate the option to add a new DNS record.

add dns record
Add an advanced DNS record.

Then, choose the TXT record type.

txt record
Select the TXT record.

Enter your domain name in the Name field.

In the Value field, add your SPF record. It typically looks like this:

v=spf1 IP addresses ~all

Where it says “IP addresses,” input all the IP addresses that can send mail on your behalf. Then, you can mention third-party servers that can send mail for you (that represent you), like your hosting provider’s mail server.

Ending with the “~all” tag tells the ISP what should happen if it encounters a server that you haven’t listed in your SPF record. The “~all” tag tells the server that the email should be categorized as a “soft fail” and should still be sent but labeled as such.

Using the “-all” tag instead will tell the ISP to reject all non-compliant emails outright.

Once done, click Save.

3. Verify the setup

Your last order of business here is to verify the setup process. It can take up to 24 hours for any DNS changes to take effect, so keep that in mind. You can use an SPF validation tool to ensure your record is correctly configured like SPF Record Check.

DKIM setup

For this process, you need to create DKIM keys and add a DKIM record to your DNS. So, hopefully, you’re still logged into your hosting provider’s dashboard.

1. Generate DKIM keys

Use your email service provider to generate a DKIM key pair (public and private keys). This is usually located in the Advanced settings and involves just clicking a button. Though it can take some time for the keys to be generated. In the meantime, you can move on to the next step.

create dkim keys
Generate DKIM keys in your email provider’s settings.

2. Add DKIM Record to CNAME

Access your DNS settings.

Add a new CNAME record.

In the Name field, enter the DKIM selector followed by ._domainkey, so something like:


Paste the public key in the Value, Alias to, or Points to field.

Add a new CNAME record with your DKIM key.

Click Save or Add.

3. Enable DKIM signing

Go back to your email provider and select the option to have your email server sign outgoing emails with the private key you just set.

DMARC policies

Last of these domain authentication processes, you need to set a DMARC policy. Let’s explore how to do this now.

1. Create a DMARC record

Once again, you’ll need to access your DNS settings from your hosting provider.

Add a new TXT record.

In the Name field, enter _dmarc.

In the Value or Record field, add your DMARC policy. A basic policy might look like this:

v=DMARC1; p=none; rua=mailto:[email protected]; pct=100; adkim=s; aspf=s
add dmarc
Add DMARC as a TXT DNS record.

Save the changes you make here.

2. Set DMARC policy

Start with p=none to monitor and gather data. Eventually, change to p=quarantine or p=reject to enforce stricter policies.

3. Monitor and adjust

Regularly review DMARC reports to understand how your emails are being processed and adjust your policies accordingly.

Setting up updated unsubscribe mechanisms

To comply with these latest standards, you will also need to make sure you have a one-click unsubscribe option in place. But there’s a bit more to it than that, so let’s cover the steps required:

1. Add unsubscribe link

In your email template, add a clearly visible unsubscribe link at the top or bottom of your email.

The link should direct users to a simple webpage where they can confirm unsubscription with one click.

2. Implement List-Unsubscribe header

Configure your email headers to include a List-Unsubscribe field. This can be done through your email service provider settings.


List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:[email protected]>,


It would look like this in your recipient’s inbox:

list unsubscribe
How List-Unsubscribe looks in an inbox.

3. Test the Unsubscribe function

Send test emails to ensure that the unsubscribe link and process work correctly.

Then, verify that unsubscribe requests are processed promptly, ideally within 48 hours.

Tips for improving email deliverability and engagement

Beyond the new standards set by Google and Yahoo, there are still some other things you can do to improve your overall email engagement and deliverability. Let’s cover these tips and tricks now.

Email content optimization

Optimizing your email content will need to be a primary focus in the future to enhance email deliverability and engagement. This involves personalization, segmentation, and ensuring your messages are relevant and engaging.

To tackle personalization, you can:

  1. Include the recipient’s name in the subject line or body of the email. For example, “Hi [First Name], here’s your exclusive offer!”
  2. Use data from past interactions to customize content to the recipient’s interests. If a user has shown interest in a particular product or topic, highlight similar items or content (you can facilitate this through segmentation, which we’ll discuss in a moment).
  3. Use dynamic content blocks that change based on the recipient’s profile or behavior. This can include product recommendations, relevant articles, or personalized offers.

Segmentation is one of the key ways you can implement personalization into your email marketing. It involves breaking your email recipients into groups and sending different messages to each. Here are some ways you can segment your audience:

  1. Demographic: Segment your email list based on demographic information like age, gender, or location. This allows you to send more targeted and relevant content.
  2. Behavioral: Segment your list based on user behavior, such as purchase history, website activity, and email engagement. For instance, send a follow-up email to users who clicked on a specific link in your previous email.
  3. Lifecycle: Consider where your users are in the customer lifecycle. New subscribers might receive a welcome series, while loyal customers could receive exclusive offers or loyalty rewards.

Monitoring and analytics

Using monitoring tools and analytics can help you track the performance of your marketing campaigns and make data-driven decisions for future ones.

One key tool you should use right away is Google Postmaster Tools. Once set up, it’ll provide insights into your domain’s email performance. Set up your domain to start receiving data on email delivery errors, spam rates, and feedback loops.

You should also use an email analytics platform to keep tabs on your campaigns. Platforms like Mailchimp, SendGrid, and HubSpot offer detailed analytics on email performance. You can use these platforms to monitor open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. You can also perform A/B tests on subject lines, email content, and call-to-action buttons to determine what resonates best with your audience. Use the results to refine your email campaigns.

Tips for maintaining a low spam rate

Since maintaining a low spam rate is even more important now, here are a few ways to keep yours ultra-low:

  • Only send emails to users who have opted in and shown interest in your content. Avoid purchasing email lists, as these often contain uninterested or invalid addresses.
  • Make sure each email offers value to the recipient, whether through informative content, special offers, or useful updates. High-value emails are less likely to be marked as spam.
  • Sign up for feedback loops from major ISPs to receive notifications when recipients mark your emails as spam. Use this information to improve your email content and list hygiene.
  • Remove inactive or invalid email addresses from your list regularly. This helps maintain a high sender reputation and reduces bounce rates.


Gmail and Yahoo are implementing new email-sending requirements to enhance security and the overall email user experience. As we’ve discussed here today, these changes include stricter domain authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC), maintaining low spam complaint rates, and providing clear one-click unsubscribe options. Failing to comply can lead to deliverability issues, reputation damage, and potential legal consequences. All of which no business owner wants to deal with.

To prepare, follow steps for proper domain authentication, align email headers, and set up effective unsubscribe mechanisms. Once all the technical aspects are in place, you can focus on creating better email content through personalization and segmentation. Then, monitor performance over time.

Ready to optimize your email deliverability and engagement? Explore Kinsta’s powerful hosting solutions to support your website’s performance and security needs. Check out our managed hosting plans to learn more.

Jeremy Holcombe Kinsta

Content & Marketing Editor at Kinsta, WordPress Web Developer, and Content Writer. Outside of all things WordPress, I enjoy the beach, golf, and movies. I also have tall people problems ;).