Understanding the new email sender rules: what b2b businesses need to know

Understanding the new email sender rules: what B2B businesses need to know

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A B2B outbound marketing perspective on the new email sender rules being introduced by Google and Yahoo: what you need to know, what you need to do, and what it means for your business.

What is happening?

These changes aren’t just focused on spam

Most of the current talk around the coming changes focuses on the requirement to meet reduced spam thresholds to avoid reduced delivery rates.

Most industry chatter currently focuses on the requirement for senders to meet reduced SPAM thresholds to avoid reduced delivery to inbox, but those aren’t the only changes.  The full list of updated sender requirements is split into two sets, rules for all senders, and additional rules for bulk senders (I.e. >5k external messages per day). 

Requirements for all senders

Add SPF and DKIM records in domain DNS.
Add valid forward and reverse (PTR) records in DNS. 
Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools <0.1% to avoid reduced inbox delivery.
Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools <0.3% to avoid severely reduced inbox delivery.
Format messages using Internet message format standard (RFC 5322).
Don’t impersonate Gmail ‘From:’ headers. Gmail will begin using a DMARC quarantine enforcement policy and impersonating Gmail ‘From:’ headers might impact your email delivery. 
Add ARC headers to forwarded outgoing messages. Add a ‘List-ID:’ header to specify the mailing list where appropriate.

Additional requirements for bulk senders (I.e. >5k external messages per day)

Set up DMARC email authentication for your sending domain. Your DMARC enforcement policy can be set to none.
For direct mail, the domain in the sender’s ‘From:’ header must be aligned with either the SPF domain or the DKIM domain. This is required to pass DMARC alignment.
Marketing messages and subscribed messages must support one-click unsubscribe and include a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the message body. 

Which types of email campaigns will be affected?

For any Sopro clients reading this, you can be assured that your campaigns won’t be affected by the new changes.

In fact, high-quality, low-volume B2B outreach is clearly not the intended target of the rule changes.

The announcements and updated policies make clear the types of sender behaviour likely to incur delivery penalties. 

These tend to comprise of activities already known to reduce message quality and increase spam scores or dysfunctional sending practices that contravene policy with respect to configuration or compliance.

High volume and/or high frequency messagingSpamSevere
Broad targetingSpamModerate
Limited personalisationSpamSevere
Poor messagingSpamSevere
Low message varianceSpamModerate
Incomplete or poor domain configurationComplianceSevere
Non-compliance (i.e., unsub links, privacy policy)ComplianceSevere

All of the risks above are completely avoided with the right team managing your activity. 

In most cases avoiding these risks in B2B outreach simply means sending a non-intrusive cadence of hyper-personalised, laser-targeted messages, and using a reliable campaign delivery platform.

Do the new rules apply to bulk senders only?

No. An early, and common, misrepresentation of the new rules detailed that the spam thresholds apply to bulk senders only.

Given the rapidly evolving industry understanding of the new rules, this appears not to be true. Google’s recently updated email sender requirements has now clarified that both standard and bulk senders will be subject to delivery penalty enforcements, should they not meet the new spam thresholds.

How does enforcement work?

So what happens if sender spam rate exceeds the new threshold?

Enforcement of the spam rate penalty is graduated and reduces a sender’s ability to deliver messages to recipient inboxes. 

Spam rateImpact
0 – 0.1%No impact
>0.1%Reduction to inbox delivery
>0.3%Severe reduction to inbox delivery. Sender no longer eligible for mitigations.

Does the recipient type make a difference?

Yes it does, and this again makes clear who these rules target. 

Because these changes are targeted specifically at scammers, phishing attempts and high volume consumer spam, the rules outlined in the FAQs specifically exclude Google Workplace recipients. This essentially removes B2B traffic from the scope of the rule changes.

In practice, modern B2B prospecting generally doesn’t touch personal Gmail accounts. Most B2B email messaging targets users via Google Workspace accounts (i.e. their business email) for compliance reasons already. This point will be music to the ears of B2B marketing professionals around the world.

How do I measure my spam scores?

Good question. If you use postmaster you can check your sender spam scores directly:


Note: replace sopro.io with your own domain in the URL above.

As you can see, here’s ours, clean as a whistle!

Is it okay to send from a primary domain if my SPAM scores are good?

So, you’re sending from your primary domain and your SPAM scores are looking good. Great!

From this point forward, higher volumes of non-sales emails are actually an asset. They increase the message volume from which your spam scores are calculated, giving you greater tolerance if people do mark some of your outreach messages as spam.

You may also wish to increase non-sales email volumes further with services like InboxAlly, or make use of Sopro’s domain warm up services (used in every campaign). The right mix of non sales and (highly targeted) sales messages helps Google understand that emails from your domain are important and valued by your recipients.

At this stage you are safe to send. Just keep the volume of outreach emails low, be super targeted and heavily personalised on delivery. If you do increase the size of your campaigns, ramp up slowly and keep the volume of sales emails as low a percentage of your total as you can. 

What to do if your domain reputation is in bad shape

With a burned reputation, you’ll need to migrate your prospecting outreach to a new marketing domain.

  • Register and set up your domain correctly (specific instructions on DKIM/SPF setup can be found in our email deliverability guide).
  • Make sure your prospecting data and targeting are both in great shape. Align the content of your emails with your audience.
  • Warm up the volume of emails coming from your domain, ideally for at least 30 days before any outreach campaigns go live.
  • Prospecting activity should begin slowly, and ramp up equally slowly.
  • Avoid exclusively sending prospecting emails from your new domain: a mix of sales and non-sales is a natural email profile.
  • Keep the volumes well below the daily thresholds. Don’t forget the importance of ramping up slowly. No more than 50% per week. 
  • Fail to stick to any of these guidelines and your new domain will also die, and you’ll be back to square one.

What’s the point of these new rules?

As you can see, well run B2B prospecting campaigns are unaffected, provided you know what you’re doing. So that’s good news for everyone.

So who are the new rules targeted at then? Here’s our take:

Tackling fraud and financial crime 

The SPF, DKIM and bulk sender DMARK requirements are a step up in sender authentication standards. 

This new bar for delivery severely damages the business models behind most conventional email fraud (I.e. phishing, investment scams, relationship scams, malware). The largely unidentifiable originators of these schemes will likely turn alternative media for their scams. A big win for the average inbox. 

Reducing high volume spam

For years our inboxes have been plagued by low quality, unsolicited promotions for products, services or content bearing little or no relevance to recipients.

The heavy reduction to spam thresholds is a hammer blow to high-volume, untargeted and impersonal promotional communications targeting consumer inboxes at scale. Come February, this entire bracket of unwanted email should immediately breach the new thresholds and no longer successfully deliver. Another huge win for the inbox.

What about B2B?

Well, it’s true that both fraud and high-volume spam typically target consumers rather than business inboxes, the impact of decimating the business models behind both (through non-delivery) will also play a big part in reducing the volume making their way into B2B inboxes.

Flight to quality

We will also benefit from an industrywide migration to low-volume, high-quality campaigns. The businesses that are yet to make that switch will likely be forced to embrace high-quality outreach with these new rules. It feels a lot like the end of spray-gun email marketing.

Overall, both Google and Yahoo continue to support responsible use of email. These changes are positive step and we can expect cleaner inboxes, fewer undesirable emails, and far better response rates when sending relevant, engaging, personalised and well targeted messages in future. A big win for B2B marketing.

With Sopro, you don’t just get a great service; you get peace of mind. Our team of experts knows everything there is to know about technical settings and the latest regulations. We handle the technical setup so you don’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty details.

Plus, our best practice approach guarantees high-quality, targeted outreach that resonates with your audience, so your campaigns are not only compliant but also effective. We’ll take the wheel so you can focus on reaping the benefits of well-crafted, successful email campaigns.

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