Is Gmail About to Wreck your Email Marketing?

What you need to know

Google has announced that, starting next month, they will reject email that purports to come from Gmail, but isn’t sent by a Gmail server.

How this might affect you

If you use a third party email service, like FeedBlitz, to send your email updates, AND your from address is a Gmail domain (e.g. mysuperduperblog@gmail.com), then your emails will probably not get through, unless either your email service or you change something.

What you need to do this month

If you’re with FeedBlitz, nothing! We will take care of this for you, and your email will get through, just as we did when Yahoo and AOL implemented the same policies in 2014.

If you are not with FeedBlitz, and you send emails using a Gmail address, you need to change your sending address. Ideally to one that better reflects your brand (such as me@mysuperduperblog.com). If you have a hosted web site, most site hosting packages come with at least one email address. Use that!

If you are with FeedBlitz, we recommend you do this anyway, not because your mail won’t go through (remember, we’re taking care of this for you), but because it’s better branding.

Do I have to give up using Gmail for my business?

Absolutely not. You can set up Gmail to pull from other email accounts (it’s in Gmail’s Settings, on the Accounts & Import tab).

What’s going on?

Google is helping curb spam by changing their DMARC policy. AOL and Yahoo did this in 2014. Basically, they’re saying to inbox providers, if you can’t prove that the email really came from Gmail, don’t accept it. Why? Because spammers use fake Gmail addresses, but they don’t run through Google’s servers. Spam sent this way fails DMARC authentication, and because Google’s policy will change to “reject” next month, most modern ISPs will not deliver it. Result: Much less spam for you. Hurrah!

This is a Good Thing.

BUT… legitimate email, such as your newsletters and blog updates, sent by email services like FeedBlitz that have been using your Gmail address will now get blocked, because that email won’t authenticate as coming from Gmail (which is true; it’s coming from us). FeedBlitz will automatically change the sending address where necessary to ensure your emails do in fact get through (and your replies will reach your Gmail account, so that’s OK too), so no FeedBlitz publishers or subscribers will be affected.

But if you’re not with us (you should fix that ;) ), you need to check with your email service provider (ESP) – and probably change your sending address.

Let’s Talk Branding for a Moment

Many (far too many) bloggers use <theirsite>@gmail.com as their email address when their domains are at <theirsite>.com. You’ve ponied up for the web site, have your branding just so, and then … oof. Let the ball drop at the email address. It’s not a huge branding fail, but ceding control of your business’ email address to Gmail could just get very sticky, starting next month.

So, go on. Finish the play on your branding with your email address. Update your mailing list’s settings.

Incidentally, if you’d like to find out about how you can extend your own domain’s email authentication to your FeedBlitz mailings, you can, using SPF and / or DKIM. It’s easy to set up, provided you have access to your DNS (domain name) settings.

The One Easy Gmail Tip for Tracking and Testing

We recently sponsored the slightly-awkwardly-named-but-totally-worthwhile Type-A Parent Conference in Atlanta, and so naturally the topic of email came up (surprise!), especially in relation to testing email forms with different email accounts. It can be a real pain to create yet another email address for your site, and so we all have only a few addresses to go around. Right?

Wrong! If you have a gmail account – and who doesn’t? – you effectively have an infinite number of email addresses. And I was surprised how few of the experienced bloggers and content marketers I met on this trip knew this great gmail tip. Hence, this post…

The trick’s really simple. Say your gmail account is yourname@gmail.com. All you have to do is add a plus sign after “yourname” and then any regular email friendly text (no spaces, commas, etc) before the @ sign, and voila! As far as any third party site is concerned, you just created a new, unique, custom email address. It will still be routed to your regular gmail inbox, where you can then build filters to send these inbound emails to different folders if you want to.

For example, phollows+screenscraped@gmail.com is a perfectly valid email address that will reach my gmail inbox, but will by definition be spam (since it will only ever appear in this blog post) and so I can simply route it to junk.

Practically speaking, you can use <yourname>+<sitename>@gmail.com to uniquely track individual subscriptions, purchases, registrations from any web site. With this technique, you can see which sites are selling your email address, for example; or which perhaps have been compromised, because now you can use a unique email address for every site you interact or register with.

Want to test your email subscription form or popup? <yourname>+<test1>@gmail.com (etc.) will do the job nicely.

With gmail you effectively have an infinite reservoir of unique email addresses you can do almost anything with. It’s pretty neat. Meanwhile, if you’ve some good email tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments.