Suppose you are a job board or an aggregator. In that case, you probably get traffic from 4 major channels – paid (display, programmatic, retargeting), organic (google + Google jobs), direct and brand traffic, and e-mail.
Email, in this case, means sending job alerts with matching jobs to your subscribers. This is part of the bread-and-butter of job boards and aggregators, and every company in online recruiting and talent acquisition uses email.
It would be a pity if you suddenly cannot reach a massive chunk of this audience.
Not only that but recruiting still runs mainly on email. After the job alerts, candidates and recruiters usually communicate via email to set up appointments, discuss contracts, and more or less manage the whole hiring process.
Are you confused? What am I talking about?
Google introduces new email sender guidelines in 2024
Starting in February 2024, Google will have stricter requirements for delivering emails from senders to Gmail. The requirements are even more stringent for those sending 5000 or more email messages daily to Gmail accounts. These changes will impact almost any job board or aggregator with 10000 subscribers.
Why am I saying 10000? Because, on average, and working with email with five clients in the past four years, 50% of their subscribers ran on Gmail.
How do I know this, and why am I qualified to discuss email deliverability?
My experience building highly scalable job alerts using Amazon SES
This is a valid question, so let me tell you about my experience with email optimization for job alerts. Honestly, up until 2019, I needed more understanding of email. Then, I started working with a job board called EmployZone.
Our sending reached about 1 million emails per day, and we were on track to send about 3 million daily. Unfortunately, our email service provider – Sendgrid, was just too expensive. Enter Amazon SES (Simple Email Service).
Amazon SES is a classical SMTP relay, but it is barebone. You have to manage everything yourself – unsubscriptions, user lists, complaints, spam reports, reputation, bounce. It is a considerable effort but significantly cheaper than Sendgrid (up to 4 times more affordable if you do it right). The drawback is that if you don’t know what you are doing, you will burn your domain in seconds, and your deliverability rate will go to 0.
After three months of non-stop grinding, we migrated our email marketing to SES. We reached the sending quota of 3 million email messages daily with deliverability above 95% and OR above 30%, with bounce rates consistently below 0.001%.
This experience taught me all the steps to set up a high-scale job alert machine. I have successfully replicated this setup in 4 different job boards, sending a combined message flow of over 20 million daily emails.
What are the new Gmail guidelines for email deliverability?
If you are sending more than 5000 emails per day to Gmail accounts, you have to comply with a LOT of new guidelines, but here are the most critical ones.
Most of the Do’s are not surprising, and honestly, if you are sending an email today, you probably comply with them anyway:
- Email authentication is critical for high-volume senders, focusing on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC setup (although most job boards don’t have DMARC setup correctly).
- Using consistent domains for email authentication and public website hosting is recommended.
- Use a TLS connection for transmitting email.
- Periodically check with the user if they want to receive email still
- Your sending IP address must have a PTR record. Set up valid reverse DNS records of your sending server IP addresses that point to your domain.
- Confirm emails when subscribing users.
- New senders are advised to increase email volumes gradually to avoid delivery issues.
- Proper message formatting is necessary, including compliance with RFC 5322 standards, clear sender information, and visible web links.
Most of the Don’ts are also relatively straightforward:
- Don’t impersonate Gmail From: headers
- Add ARC headers if you are forwarding email.
- Only send email to users who have subscribed to the service
Where are the critical Gmail guidelines for job boards and aggregators?
There are two critical new guidelines:
Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10%
Not only that but also avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher. You can set up Postmaster using this guide and monitor your spam rate there.
Offer a 1-click unsubscribe option.
Ok, this is huge. Gone are the days of confusing, complex unsubscribe flows and tricks that job boards and aggregators used to love.
If you send more than 5000 emails per day to Gmail, you need to allow users to unsubscribe using one click. That’s it.
This has enormous implications for job boards and aggregators. Most platforms today (a quick test with ten known names in the US – 9 out of 10 did not have that) do not support 1-click unsubscribe. You have until June to build it.
But here is where you have to read between the lines. It is not enough to have a URL in the email that unsubscribes the user. One-click unsubscribe should be implemented according to RFC 8058 by adding List-Unsubscribe headers to outgoing promotional messages.
Google does not accept URL and mail-to unsubscribe options.
What are the impacts if you don’t follow the new Gmail guidelines?
In straightforward terms, Google can limit sending rates, block messages, or mark them as spam.
Do the new sender guidelines apply to Google Workspace accounts?
Still, they apply to personal Gmail accounts only. However, the sender requirements apply to Google Workspace accounts, too. So, if you are sending sales leads bulk messages from your Google Workspace account, you have to comply with the new rules.
What is the impact of the new Gmail sending guidelines on the job board platform?
Then there are three forms of implementation of job alerts on job boards:
- The job board platform ultimately manages the sending for you.
- The job board platform uses an API key for a third-party email service (Sendgrid, Mailchimp, Mailgun, etc.).
- You have decided to collect emails differently, and you manage the email flow yourself.
In the first case, it can get complicated. If a job board platform manages your email sending, you must ensure they comply with the new requirements. Reach out already today. The 1-click unsubscribe feature will be a huge problem and a new feature for most.
In the second case, you are still the owner of the SMTP account, so most of the verification work (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) is your responsibility. The 1-click unsubscribe requirement should then be implemented on the third-party email service. Most of them already support this, but you must double-check and enable it.
If you manage the alerts cycle yourself (third case), I assume you have enough knowledge and already comply with most requirements. There, I can provide very little guidance because of the customization steps. I can only advise looking at your setup today rather than later.
What is the timeline for the new Gmail sender policies?
Starting February 2024, some non-compliant emails will get temporary errors. Bulk senders need to follow email guidelines to avoid increasing enforcement with time.
From April 2024, a growing percentage of non-compliant emails will be rejected.
By June 1, 2024, bulk senders must add a one-click unsubscribe.
Will other email providers follow?
Most likely, yes. The new email spam guidelines were announced both by Google and Yahoo, and Microsoft will probably follow soon.
Summary – Gmail's new requirements for email senders and the impact on job boards and aggregators
- You must comply with new requirements if you send over 5000 emails daily to Gmail.
- Setup Google Postmaster and monitor your spam rate, ensuring it is below the 0..1% mark
- If you use a job board platform, reach out early to determine if your provider complies with the new spam prevention requirements, specifically the 1-click unsubscribe.
- If you manage email or use an email service provider, ensure all authentification is appropriately set and that 1-click unsubscribe headers are enabled.
- If you don’t comply with the requirements before April 2024 and have a one-click unsubscribe by June 1st, 2024, Gmail will most likely not deliver your email to your subscribers.
Thank you for reading my post on the upcoming changes to Gmail's spam policies. If you are looking for help making your job alert setup compliant with the new Gmail sending policies or want to explore SES for your job alerts infrastructure, contact me via the contact form or write to me on Linkedin.
As always, if you enjoyed my content, please subscribe and share the links on social media!