Emails Not Reaching Gmail, Other Top Email Providers’ Inboxes? Here’s Why

a wizard holding a stick next to server

The date we have warned about numerous times on social media is here: Google has implemented stringent security guidelines for email senders that are rolling out in February, as expected. Aimed at reducing spam and enhancing security, these rules are supposed to impact only businesses and groups that dispatch large volumes of emails to Gmail accounts.

Because we have already received calls from small business owners whose emails aren’t reaching Gmail and Yahoo inboxes, our sense is that ordinary senders may be getting caught up in the new filtering rules, as well.

The new policies are being adopted by most of the large email providers, and they underscore the significance of properly configuring DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and SPF (Sender Policy Framework).

We recently wrote about the importance of these settings (and others) to proper email cyber security. Now, let’s delve into why these configurations can impact your email deliverability, as well.

Understanding Gmail’s New Policies

Beginning in February 2024, Gmail will scrutinize emails more closely, favoring those with robust authentication measures in place. To navigate these changes successfully, businesses must pay special attention to DMARC, DKIM, and SPF configurations, in particular.

DMARC: Email Traffic Cop

DMARC acts as a shield against email phishing and spoofing. By configuring DMARC properly, you authenticate your emails, assuring Gmail that your messages are legitimate. This not only safeguards your brand reputation but also ensures that your emails reach the intended recipients without being flagged as suspicious.

Make Google happy by making full use of DMARC settings. Gmail wants business owners to define how to handle messages that falsely claim to come from their domains. Reject, quarantine or do nothing – you decide, but “none” is an answer Gmail will no longer favor.

DKIM: Ensuring Message Integrity

DKIM adds an extra layer of security by attaching a digital signature to your emails. This signature verifies that the email content has not been tampered with during transit. A properly configured DKIM reassures Gmail that your messages are not only legitimate but also untampered, enhancing trust and increasing the likelihood of successful delivery.

DKIM acts in concert with DMARC.

SPF: Authorizing Sending Servers

SPF acts as a whitelist for your sending servers, specifying which servers are authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain. Configuring SPF properly prevents unauthorized servers from sending emails under your domain name, reducing the risk of phishing attempts and increasing Gmail’s confidence in your email legitimacy.

If DKIM is unavailable, it is SPF that will work in conjunction with DMARC for sender/recipient validation.

The Impact on Email Deliverability

Configuring DMARC, DKIM, and SPF in harmony transforms your email into a trustworthy and secure communication pathway. As Gmail increasingly prioritizes authenticated emails, a failure to meet these standards may result in emails being filtered out, labeled as spam or even rejected altogether.

Steps to Ensure Proper Configuration

  1. Audit Your Current Configurations: Assess your current DMARC, DKIM, and SPF configurations to identify gaps or weaknesses.
  2. Implement DMARC Policies: Set up DMARC policies to instruct Gmail on how to handle unauthenticated emails from your domain. Gradually move from monitoring to enforcement mode.
  3. Strengthen DKIM Signatures: Ensure that your DKIM signatures are robust and not prone to being compromised. Rotate keys periodically to enhance security.
  4. Fine-Tune SPF Records: Review and update SPF records to include all legitimate sending servers and exclude unauthorized ones.
  5. Monitor and Analyze Reports: Regularly analyze DMARC reports to gain insights into authentication failures and take corrective actions promptly.

Conclusion

By configuring DMARC, DKIM, and SPF properly, businesses can not only meet Gmail’s authentication requirements but also enhance their overall email security and trustworthiness. Prepare for the future of email marketing by fortifying your digital communications with these essential configurations.

Final thought: keep in mind that these are just 3 of the 11 vital email settings we review and correct on behalf of all new clients – what we call an email hardening process.

Uncertain if your email settings are secure? Visit our new Email Security Spotlight tool, enter a business email address and find out in 20 seconds if your company’s email setup is secure!

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