Recently, a helpful post on the Trailblazer Community detailed the upcoming changes and guidelines from Google and Yahoo – and how Account Engagement (Pardot) marketers should be preparing for them.
This guide will share the facts, how they relate to your Account Engagement (Pardot) account, and additional resources from Salesforce.
1. Gmail Inactive Account Policy Change
For any personal Gmail accounts (not business accounts), starting December 2023, Google will be taking steps to disable/delete accounts that have not been accessed in 2 years.
If an account hasn’t been used for an extended period of time, it is more likely to be compromised…if a Google Account has not been used or signed into for at least 2 years, we may delete the account and its contents. Google, Updating our inactive account policies
You may start to notice an uptick in hard bounces when sending emails to your non-business database. This will mostly be the @gmail.com email addresses.
While you should be in the routine of purging inactive prospects from your database (to reduce hard bounces, and therefore, protect deliverability), consider isolating your @gmail prospects and assessing their engagement.
This can be done via a dynamic list. Example list criteria could be:
- Prospect default field | Email | contains | @gmail
- Prospect time | Last activity days ago | is greater than | 730*
*730 days is roughly 2 years. This is an example of criteria; there may be other criteria you could play around with, for example, you could look at score changes. I didn’t suggest using ‘Prospect email opens’ in light of Apple’s MPP (AKA death of the open rate).
From there, you can change these prospects’ “Do Not Email” field to “True”, which in turn, will change their mailability status.
Our internal analysis shows abandoned accounts are at least 10x less likely than active accounts to have 2-step-verification set up. Google, Updating our inactive account policies
- Marketing Cloud – Inactive Google Account Policy Update
- Manage inactive accounts in Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
- Manage inactive accounts in Marketing Cloud Engagement
2. Sender Domain Authentication
Security threats, such as ransomware, phishing links, and other malware threats, are increasingly sophisticated – and therefore, more complex to identify and tackle. To get a feel for the cyber-security threat landscape, you can read this overview of an app that’s solving this on the Salesforce side.
Gmail has publicly stated that they use AI to battle against malicious behavior, protecting both senders and recipients:
Gmail’s AI-powered defenses stop more than 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware from reaching inboxes and block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails every day. Google
Email authentication is necessary when sending emails via a marketing automation platform. The authentication takes the form of ‘keys’ that you add to your website’s control panel in the back-end to essentially say: “Yes, Account Engagement/Marketing Cloud is authorized to send emails on our organization’s behalf”. In the absence of email authentication, it may appear that a third party is sending emails that aren’t sourced from your organization.
Marketing Cloud Engagement:
- Purchase and Configure a Domain
- Sender Authentication Package for Marketing Cloud Email
- Secure a Custom Domain
Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot):
- Add and Verify a Domain for Email Sending
- Implement DKIM Authentication for Account Engagement Email
- DNS configuration tips and tricks for Account Engagement
3. One-Click Unsubscribe
When a recipient no longer wants to receive emails from your organization, these requests to unsubscribe should be taken seriously and actioned quickly.
Account Engagement (Pardot) and Marketing Cloud both have built-in mechanisms to process unsubscribe requests immediately. In fact, when sending a marketing email to a list of subscribers, you will be blocked if your email template does not contain an unsubscribe link or email preference center link.
However, Google and Yahoo are encouraging the unsubscribe process to be only one click. Using the unsubscribe link option falls in line with this, however, the email preference link option requires more than one click (i.e. click the link in the email, click the ‘opt-out of all’ preference.
You should consider using the unsubscribe link option only or in conjunction with your email preference center.
- Marketing Cloud Engagement: List-Unsubscribe Header Unsubscribe
- Account Engagement (Pardot): List-Unsubscribe Header in Account Engagement Emails
4. > 0.3% Spam
Spam complaints – a marketer’s nightmare. Even one or two annoyed recipients that make a spam complaint by clicking ‘Mark as Spam’ (or similar) will jeopardize your overall deliverability. What’s more, is that some spam complaints may not be reflected in your email marketing reports, due to the differences in feedback loops between some email sending providers and Account Engagement/Marketing Cloud. This means you have to be super hot on any indication of spam complaints that you have received to account for any unreported ones.
Account Engagement (Pardot) already enforces a deliverability rate of 90%; if 10% of your emails don’t get delivered on multiple occasions, you will receive an email notification to flag this, and rectify the situation. From my memory, recurring spam complaints will also be flagged. Regardless, you need to take responsibility for your own deliverability.
Google requests that the spam complaint rate for each email send is kept below 0.3%. Put it this way – if you send to a list of 300 people, you only need one spam complaint to tip you over that threshold.
Keep an eye on all of your reports, and put email marketing best practices into action to avoid disgruntled recipients.
Helpful Links for Marketing Cloud Engagement:
Helpful Links for Account Engagement (Pardot):
There really is a cocktail of tactics you can apply to protect your email deliverability (some are listed below). What’s clear is that the major email sending providers are clamping down on sloppy email marketing.
- Google will be taking steps to disable/delete personal Gmail accounts (not business accounts) that have not been accessed in 2 years, starting December 2023. Identify potential accounts using a dynamic list.
- Ensure you have implemented SPF, DKIM and DMARC.
- Consider using the unsubscribe link option only or in conjunction with your email preference center to achieve a one-click unsubscribe setup.
- Continually monitor sent email reports to identify spam complaints, and remember that there could be some left unreported.