bounces

The Beginner’s Guide to Yahoo & Google’s New Sender Requirements

As an email marketer, following Yahoo & Google’s new sender requirements is the first step to getting emails into the inbox and engaging with your subscribers. When Yahoo and Google rolled out their new protocol on Feb 1st, the entire email marketing universe rushed to become compliant. The two webmail providers collectively cater to 2 billion users, an audience that no marketer can ignore. 

Why have Google and Yahoo launched these new requirements?

The goal is to protect consumers’ inboxes from spam, unwanted, and phishing emails and make permission marketing the norm. Along with the benefit to users, these requirements prevent spammers from impersonating your brand and damaging your reputation. 

Who gets affected by Yahoo & Google’s new sender requirements? 

The new policy is particularly meant for bulk senders (who send more than 5000 emails within 24 hours). If you’re a small sender or a sender who only sends transactional emails, you might not feel the impact yet. 

But given the current move of making best practices into must-follow rules, experts predict that it’s only a matter of time before Google and Yahoo make these rules mandatory for all senders. 

How do you become compliant with 2024 sender requirements?

Here are the top 5 things you should do immediately

  • Verify ownership of your domain: Whether you’re a business, a freelancer, or a solopreneur, you must own and create sender emails from your domain.
  • Don’t send from a free email address: If you’ve been using a generic email provided by webmail providers like Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook, it’s time to change. Use free email addresses  for one-on-one communication, not bulk emails. Such emails (like example@gmail.com) hide the true identity of the sender, and ISPs reject bulk emails from these addresses for this reason.
  • Authenticate your emails: Email authentication is a way to reassure webmail providers that you are who you say you are. Not only does it prevent spam emails from entering the inbox, but it also prevents scammers from impersonating your brand. Most large email marketing platforms provide domain authentication to maximize deliverability.
  • Keep spam complaints below 0.3%: According to the new requirements, Gmail requires that spam complaints stay below 0.3% to land in the inbox. To monitor spam complaints, register your domain for Google Postmaster Tools. It also monitors your IP and domain reputation and helps you take steps when any of these plummet.
  • Make it easy for users to unsubscribe: The Unsubscribe button just moved to the top! You’ve likely been adding it to your footer. It will now also appear next to the From address at the top of your email. Yahoo and Google have mandated 1-click unsubscribes that are honored  within 2 days.

And that’s about it, these are the top 5 steps to optimize your deliverability.

BONUS: Authentication for Google sender protocols

3 authentication protocols are essential for your brand: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. 

  • SPF: Short for ‘Sender Policy Framework’, an SPF record confirms to the ISP that the IP the email is coming from is allowed to send emails on your behalf. If your emails don’t have SPF set up, find out how to set up SPF records here
  • DKIM: Short for ‘DomainKeys Identified Mail’, a DKIM prevents your emails from being impersonated by spammers by attaching a private digital signature to each email going out.  Email servers verify this signature and only allow the email into inboxes if there’s a match. For more information on DKIM, check out this helpful article by Google.
  • DMARC: Short for ‘Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance’, a DMARC record serves as a failsafe and informs the ISP of the steps to be taken if any authentication fails. So even with a valid DMARC record, if an SPF or DKIM fails, a DMARC would fail as well. This provides additional security for your emails. Set up your DMARC record with this help article.

Failing to complete all 3 authentication protocols can stop you from reaching your subscriber’s inbox directly. If you’re a Mailchimp user, a high number of cleaned addresses in your audience may be a sign you should review the protocols above to maintain your deliverability.

Go Beyond Compliance with Pure Firefly

If you have questions on any of Yahoo & Google’s new sender requirements, reach out to contactus@purefirefly.com for personalized support. We offer various deliverability services, including one-on-one training to keep you up-to-date on the latest best practices! Just contact us any time for a quote or intro call.

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What Does “Cleaned” Mean in Mailchimp? The Ultimate Guide

If you use Mailchimp for email marketing, you’ve probably seen contacts being marked as cleaned. Cleaned is a contact status which impacts how you can store and market to a contact. Let’s dig into what Mailchimp’s cleaned contact status means and what you can do about it.

What is a “Cleaned” Contact?

In Mailchimp, a Cleaned contact is any contact that has been determined as invalid. In other words, this email address is unable to receive any emails. Typically, contacts are marked as cleaned after emails sent to that contact from your Mailchimp account have hard bounced or repeatedly soft bounced. Emails need to soft bounce at least 15 times in order for Mailchimp to clean a contact.

Because you are prevented from sending emails to a cleaned contact, it can be frustrating to see them on your account. Thankfully, cleaned contacts do not count towards your monthly plan limit. 

You can export cleaned contacts, but Mailchimp does not allow you to archive or edit them.

When Does Mailchimp Mark a Contact as Cleaned?

Mailchimp may clean a contact at any point in their lifecycle in your audience. Here are a few of the most common times when you’ll see a subscriber become cleaned:

  • After you send a campaign: When you send out a new email, Mailchimp will record the contacts that bounce. Addresses that hard bounce or soft bounce repeatedly will be marked as cleaned.
  • When you import contacts: If you import a misspelled or invalid email address, Mailchimp may automatically mark them as cleaned. Some emails will even be blocked from importing at all.
  • Over the course of an automated series: Sometimes contacts that initially appear valid will bounce back repeatedly, leading to them being marked as cleaned.

If you find that many of your new contacts are being blocked from import or immediately marked as cleaned, it may be time to brush up on list hygiene. Consider using a list cleaner like Zerobounce to remove invalid addresses.

What Do I Do With Cleaned Contacts?

Unfortunately, Mailchimp does not allow you to archive cleaned contacts.These contacts are removed from your billing, but will remain in your audience unless you remove the list entirely.

To avoid cluttering your list with cleaned contacts, make sure invalid addresses are not allowed into your audience. Consider enabling double opt-in or reCAPTCHA to prevent spam on your signup forms. 

Double opt-in can also root out any real website visitors using fake email addresses – Some people will do anything for that 10% discount.

Can I Send Anything to a Cleaned Contact?

Contact statuses in Mailchimp impact what you are able to send. For example, users cannot send marketing emails to non-subscribed contacts. However, non-subscribed contacts can still receive post cards.

Cleaned contacts are unable to receive any communications from Mailchimp. 

Why is Mailchimp Strict About Cleaned Contacts?

Mailchimp maintains strict deliverability standards to protect the sender reputation of all its users. If a handful of Mailchimp users send to many invalid addresses, this can impact the delivery of all emails on Mailchimp’s platform. 

In order to keep everyone out of spam, Mailchimp constantly cleans contacts and monitors compliance with laws like CAN-SPAM & GDPR.

Optimize Your List Hygiene with Pure Firefly

If you’re struggling with managing cleaned contacts in Mailchimp, consider working with a Pro Partner like Pure Firefly. A qualified email marketing expert can help identify the source of cleaned contacts, and develop a strategy to ensure your list is healthy. Just send us a message for a quote on audience work.

30 & 60-Minute Training Calls are also available to answer all your email questions!

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What is an Email Bounce?

Newbies to email marketing often wonder what it means when an email bounces. If you’re among these new marketers, don’t worry. Bounces are a common occurrence every email marketer must learn to manage. In this blog post, we’ll explain what a bounce is and delve into the key distinctions between “hard bounces” and “soft bounces.”

What is an Email Bounce?

Emails bounce when they are unable to be delivered to a specific address and are returned to the sender. This can happen for various reasons depending on the situation and type of bounce. Typically, bounces are divided into “soft” and “hard” bounces. Understanding the difference can make a major impact on your email marketing strategy.

What is a Hard Bounce?

A “hard bounce” is a type of email bounce that occurs when an email cannot be delivered to the recipient and is permanently rejected. Hard bounces typically result from issues that are unlikely to be resolved, such as:

  • Invalid Email Addresses: This is the most common reason for a hard bounce. If the recipient’s email address is incorrect or doesn’t exist (e.g., typos in the domain or username), the email cannot be delivered.
  • Blocked Emails: Sometimes, an email address may be blocked by the recipient’s email server, often due to spam or security reasons.
  • Domain Does Not Exist: If the domain part of the email address (e.g. gmal.com) doesn’t exist, it results in a hard bounce.

What is a Soft Bounce?

Unlike hard bounces, soft bounces are the result of a temporary issue that prevents an email’s delivery. Common causes include:

  • Mailbox Full: Similar to a hard bounce, if a recipient’s mailbox is temporarily over its storage limit, it can result in a soft bounce. This issue can be resolved when the recipient clears space in their mailbox.
  • Server Is Down: If the recipient’s email server is temporarily unavailable, you may be unable to send to it. This can happen due to server maintenance or technical issues. It typically resolves when the server comes back online.
  • Message Size Exceeds Limit: If your email message is too large to be delivered to the recipient’s mailbox, it may bounce. Use file-sharing links or optimize your image sizes to resolve this issue.
  • Recipient Server Timeout: Sometimes, the recipient’s email server may take too long to respond due to server congestion or slow network connections.

Why Email Bounces Matter

Understanding the difference between hard and soft bounces is crucial for several reasons:

  • List Maintenance: By identifying and removing email addresses that result in hard bounces, you can keep your email list clean and up to date, improving your email deliverability.
  • Reputation Management: High bounce rates, especially hard bounces, can negatively impact your sender reputation. Maintaining a positive sender reputation is essential for avoiding the spam folder.
  • Customer Engagement: Bounced emails fail to reach the intended recipient. Over time, this can lead to lower engagement rates and diminished campaign success.

How to Handle Email Bounces

Dealing with email bounces effectively can boost your list health and improve the success of future campaigns. Here are some steps to start with:

  • Identify Bounced Emails: Use an email marketing platform that tracks bounces and categorizes them as hard or soft bounces. This will help you understand the severity of the issue.
  • Remove Hard Bounces: For hard bounces, promptly remove the email addresses from your list. Continuing to send emails to addresses that hard bounce can harm your sender reputation. Try using a list cleaner like Zerobounce to root out any additional invalid addresses in your audience.
  • Retry Soft Bounces: For soft bounces, consider retrying the delivery after some time. Soft bounces may resolve themselves, especially if the issue is temporary.
  • Update Contact Information: Routinely encourage subscribers to update their contact info. This can help clear out invalid email addresses.
  • Monitor & Repeat: Keep a close eye on your bounce rates as you continue to email your audience. Promptly addressing any sudden spikes can prevent further deliverability issues.

Bounce Back with Pure Firefly

Email bounces are a common occurrence in digital marketing, and understanding the difference between hard and soft bounces is essential. To take your knowledge to the next level, consider booking a strategy session with the email marketing experts at Pure Firefly. We can take a close look at your campaign analytics and provide you with actionable steps to improve deliverability, maximize engagement, and help you convert subscribers into happy customers.

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