Email Deliveribility Guide Updated for 2024 Post Google Yahoo Update

By The Grey Retention Team |  22 Min Read | Updated on January 28th, 2024

As a brand owner or marketer, you understand the vital role email marketing plays in your overall strategy. However, achieving high email deliverability is a sophisticated and often challenging aspect of this domain. At Grey Retention Marketing Agency, we specialize in breaking down the technical details of email deliverability to ensure your emails consistently reach your recipients’ inboxes. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and strategies necessary for optimizing your email deliverability.

2024 Google & Yahhoo Updates (New)

At Grey Retention Marketing Agency, we know the importance of properly authenticating emails, but not all senders are using the tools available to protect their emails. This lack of proper authentication makes it incredibly easy for bad actors to impersonate domains and send phishing emails, damaging your sending reputation and making it harder for legitimate emails to reach the inbox.

Gmail and Yahoo are on a mission to protect their users from spam and unwanted emails. However, if senders fail to secure their systems properly, it makes their job significantly harder. That’s why Gmail and Yahoo have decided that proper email authentication and following deliverability best practices are no longer optional. If you want to ensure your emails continue to make it to the inbox, you’ll have to comply with key best practices for email authentication and spam prevention. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Authenticate your emails using DKIM, SPF, and DMARC: This will confirm your legitimacy and protect your domain from being used for malicious purposes.
  • Reduce spam and maintain a spam complaint rate under 0.3%: Keeping your spam complaint rate low is essential for maintaining a good sender reputation.
  • Allow easy unsubscribe options: Ensure recipients can unsubscribe with just one click and honor unsubscribes within two days.
  • Ensure RFC 5322 compliance and have valid PTR records and rDNS: Compliance with these technical standards is crucial for email deliverability.
  • Use a TLS connection for transmitting email: Encrypting your email in transit helps protect sensitive information and builds trust with recipients.

These changes primarily target large bulk senders, but even smaller senders or those who send transactional emails should take note. What’s required for large senders today will likely become a requirement for all senders in the future. Ignoring these changes and hoping they don’t affect you because you’re a small sender is not a good strategy. Whether you send one email or millions, protecting your domains, avoiding spam, and following deliverability best practices is crucial for keeping your subscribers safe and maintaining a healthy email program.


Get Ready for the Gmail and Yahoo Changes in 5 Steps

As an email marketing agency that sends bulk emails every day, here are the top five steps we recommend you take now to ensure your emails keep making it to Google and Yahoo inboxes in 2024:

  1. Understand and Authenticate Your Sending Domains:

    • Identify the domains you use for email sending and ensure they are properly authenticated. This involves validating your email addresses and domains through DNS records.
    • Check the status of your domains in your email service provider’s dashboard and take action to authenticate any domains that are not fully verified.
  2. Set Up Custom DKIM:

    • DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) confirms your legitimacy as a sender and verifies that the messages were not altered in transit. Going forward, Yahoo and Gmail will require all email to be DKIM signed, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to implement your custom DKIM signature.
    • This setup will require adding a TXT record to your domain’s DNS. Your email service provider should provide the values you need to include.
  3. Authenticate Your Mail with Custom SPF:

    • The Return-Path address is where bounces and other email feedback are sent, and it’s also the domain used for SPF authentication. By default, the Return-Path for emails sent through most email services is their domain, but replacing it with your own sending domain means your messages are now SPF authenticated with your sending domain.
    • Set up a custom Return-Path by adding a CNAME record to your DNS that points to your email service provider’s domain. This helps build your domain’s reputation while also providing SPF domain alignment for your domain’s DMARC policy.
  4. Set Up DMARC:

    • DMARC is an email security standard that allows domain owners to monitor who’s sending email using their domain and instructs email receivers (like Gmail) to approve, quarantine, or reject emails that aren’t sent from an authenticated source.
    • Gmail and Yahoo will start requiring DMARC for all bulk senders who send more than 5,000 messages a day. Even if you aren’t sending at that volume, setting up DMARC is highly recommended. Start with a “p=none” policy to monitor who’s sending email using your domain without receivers taking any action just yet.

Understanding Email Deliverability

Email deliverability is the percentage of emails that make it to subscribers’ inboxes. This is separate from email delivery, which describes whether your email was successfully delivered to the receiving server. Since emails that end up in someone’s spam folder are still considered delivered, it’s possible to have good email delivery rates but poor deliverability.

Many marketers ignore deliverability, but it has a significant impact on the success of your email marketing strategy. Here’s why:

  • High Deliverability: Ensures your emails land in front of more subscribers, leading to higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversions. This directly translates to increased ROI.
  • Low Deliverability: Means fewer emails reach the intended inboxes, leading to reduced engagement and a downward spiral in email performance.

Understanding and improving email deliverability is essential for building long-term relationships with your subscribers and converting them into loyal customers.

How Email Deliverability Works

Good email deliverability enables your emails to land in recipients’ inboxes, a process known as inbox placement. The journey of an email involves several steps:

  1. Send and Receive: Your email is sent from your ESP to the recipient’s ISP.
  2. Spam Filters: The ISP’s spam filters analyze your email. These filters check for various signals like sender reputation, email content, and recipient engagement history.
  3. Inbox or Spam Folder: Based on this analysis, the ISP decides whether to deliver your email to the inbox, send it to the spam folder, or block it altogether.


ISPs rely heavily on your email sender reputation, which is influenced by:

  • The volume of emails sent
  • Spam complaints and unsubscribes
  • Encounters with spam traps
  • Email bounce rates
  • Recipient interactions (opens, clicks, replies, deletions)

Each ISP uses unique algorithms to judge sender reputation, but third-party tools can provide a sender score, rating your email sending practices on a scale of 1 to 100. A higher score indicates better deliverability.

Key Factors Affecting Email Deliverability

Sender Reputation Your sender reputation is like a credit score for your email marketing. It’s built over time and influenced by your sending habits, bounce rates, spam complaints, and engagement metrics. At Grey Retention, we use advanced tools to monitor and adjust these metrics to keep your reputation solid.

Email Content and Design The content and design of your emails are crucial. Well-designed, relevant, and engaging emails are more likely to be opened and acted upon. Spammy language or poor design can get your emails flagged as spam.

Recipient Engagement High engagement rates tell email service providers (ESPs) that your emails are valuable. This includes metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and responses. Encouraging interactions through compelling calls to action and personalized content can boost these metrics.

Technical Setup and Authentication

Setting up your technical infrastructure correctly is essential for email deliverability. Implement email authentication protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance). These protocols help verify the legitimacy of your emails and protect against phishing and spoofing.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

SPF is an email validation system designed to prevent spam by verifying the sender’s IP address. It allows domain owners to specify which mail servers are permitted to send email on their behalf. Here’s how it works:

  1. DNS Records: The domain owner publishes SPF records in the DNS, listing the IP addresses authorized to send email.
  2. Email Sending: When an email is sent, the recipient’s mail server queries the DNS for the SPF record.
  3. Validation: The mail server checks if the sending IP is listed in the SPF record. If it matches, the email is accepted. If not, the email can be marked as spam or rejected.

Implementing SPF is crucial for preventing email spoofing and improving deliverability.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

DKIM is an email authentication method that allows the receiver to check that an email was indeed sent and authorized by the owner of that domain. It involves:

  1. Signing Emails: The sender’s mail server signs each outgoing email with a private key.
  2. DNS Records: The domain owner publishes the corresponding public key in the DNS.
  3. Validation: The recipient’s mail server uses the public key to verify the signature. If the signature matches, the email is considered authentic.

DKIM ensures the integrity of the email, preventing tampering during transit and boosting trust with ISPs.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance)

DMARC builds on SPF and DKIM to provide a more comprehensive email authentication system. It allows domain owners to specify how unauthenticated emails should be handled. Here’s how it works:

  1. Policy Specification: The domain owner publishes a DMARC policy in the DNS, specifying how to handle emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks (none, quarantine, reject).
  2. Reporting: DMARC provides reporting features that send aggregate reports back to the domain owner, detailing the authentication results.
  3. Action: Based on the DMARC policy, the recipient’s mail server decides what to do with unauthenticated emails.

Implementing DMARC helps prevent email spoofing and phishing, enhancing your domain’s reputation and deliverability.

Case Study Deliverability for a Leading Fitness eCommerce Brand

For eCommerce brands, especially those in the fitness sector, email deliverability is crucial for maintaining customer trust and driving sales. When email deliverability is low or unstable, both sales and reputation suffer. In this section, we explore how Grey Retention Marketing Agency addressed and resolved complex email deliverability issues for a leading fitness eCommerce brand, resulting in significant sales growth.

Background: Personalized Fitness Products eCommerce

Our client, a leader in personalized fitness products eCommerce, offers high-value, customized fitness gear that resonates deeply with their customers. Trust is vital in this market, as these purchases are not spontaneous but thoughtful and often expensive. Unfortunately, fluctuating email deliverability was limiting the reach and effectiveness of their email marketing efforts, posing a risk to both their sales and their reputation.

Initial Challenges: Deliverability to the Primary Inbox

The store faced ongoing challenges with fluctuating email deliverability. At Grey Retention, we initially managed these issues with several targeted actions:

  • Audience Segmentation: We carefully segmented the audience to ensure relevant content reached the right subscribers.
  • Avoiding Spam Triggers: We meticulously avoided “spammy” words that could harm the brand’s reputation.
  • Improving Text-to-Image Ratio: We added hidden text in campaigns to balance the text-to-image ratio, making the emails more algorithm-friendly.

These measures helped improve deliverability to some extent, getting more campaigns into the primary inbox. However, a long-term solution was needed to stabilize and enhance deliverability further.

Strategic Solution: A Collaborative Approach

Our action plan centered around improving the account’s reputation. We communicated openly with the client, setting expectations that the strategy would involve a short-term reduction in revenue, followed by a gradual and sustainable increase. This tradeoff was crucial for achieving more stable deliverability.

Phase 1: Restoring Email Domain Reputation

To lay the groundwork for improved deliverability, we combined efforts from our copywriting, design, and technical teams. Key actions included:

  • Focused Copywriting: We shortened email campaigns to make them more reader-friendly and focused, ensuring they contained valuable, informative content.
  • Avoiding Spam Triggers: We meticulously avoided language that could trigger spam filters and incorporated more motivational and informational newsletters to build authority.
  • Interactive Content: We added interactive elements, such as polls and voting options, to boost engagement and enhance account reputation.
  • Technical and Strategic Fixes: We offered promotional discount codes for replies, increasing interaction and boosting reputation. We also performed weekly GlockApps spam tests to track progress and identify issues.

Phase 2: Combining Improved Reputation with a New Sender Domain

Once the account’s reputation showed improvement, we initiated the process of setting up a new sender domain. This involved:

  • Segmented Sending: We started by sending emails to the most engaged subscribers and gradually increased the segments.
    • Campaign 1 & 2: Super Mega Engaged Segment (20-30k profiles)
    • Campaigns 3 & 4: Highly engaged (30-40k profiles)
    • Campaigns 5 & 6: Moderate engagement (50k profiles)
    • Campaigns 7 & 8: Broad engagement (60k profiles)
    • Campaigns 9 to 19: Wider segments up to 100k profiles

This gradual approach ensured that we maintained a positive reputation while expanding the reach of our campaigns.

Achieving Primary Inbox Placement

To further enhance deliverability, we implemented strategic promotion techniques:

  • Teaser Emails: We sent a series of teaser emails informing subscribers of an upcoming exciting promotion. The emails emphasized the importance of moving them to the primary inbox to receive timely notifications about the sale.
  • Engagement Incentives: The anticipated promotion, which was time-sensitive and highly attractive, prompted subscribers to move our emails to their primary inboxes.

Results: Revenue Growth Through Improved Deliverability

The strategic efforts paid off. With more emails landing in the primary inbox, the client saw a significant improvement in both open and click rates. This translated into substantial revenue growth:

  • Email Flows: A 69% increase in revenue attributable to email flows.
  • Campaign-Based Revenue: A 31% growth in campaign-based email revenue from June to September.

These results underscore the importance of a strategic, collaborative approach to email deliverability. By focusing on both technical and creative aspects, we were able to enhance the client’s email marketing effectiveness, ultimately boosting sales and strengthening their reputation.

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