Next month, Google will enforce stricter rules for businesses and groups that send large volumes of email to Gmail accounts (which covers 40% of all email users in Australia and remains the most popular email platform in the world).
Initially announced in October, these new policies are intended to reduce spam and make email more secure.
These significant changes are set to catch many real estate businesses and agents off guard, especially those not yet aware and who rely heavily on sending bulk emails – a common practice in the industry. The time to act is now if you want to avoid the risk of your emails being relegated to spam folders.
These changes are like a tune-up for the email world, and by fixing a few things under the hood, we can keep email running smoothly. But just like a tune-up, this is not a one-time exercise. Keeping email more secure, user friendly and spam-free requires constant collaboration and vigilance from the entire email community. And we’ll keep working together to make sure your inbox stays safe. Google
We only wrote just last week about Google’s plan to phase out ‘browser-based cookies’ in 2024 – another significant change. While these moves may appear to make life more challenging for marketers, they are, in essence, Google appears to be firmly behind consumers’ demand for a more private internet.
Understanding the Imminent Changes
Google’s new policy, coming into effect next month (announced in October 2023), mandates bulk email senders to authenticate their emails and make unsubscribing a simple, one-click process. These changes, aimed at reducing spam and phishing attacks, apply to those sending over 5,000 emails to Gmail addresses per day (which is likely your real estate office). However, the broader implications affect all email senders, including real estate agencies.
Similarly, Microsoft 365 has issued a warning to its users. Non-compliance with these new standards could result in emails being marked as spam or, worse, not delivered at all.
How to Use the Valimail DMARC Checker
Using the Valimail DMARC Checker is straightforward:
- Visit the Website: Go to https://domain-checker.valimail.com/dmarc.
- Enter Your Domain Name: Input the domain name you use for your business emails.
- Analyse the Results: The tool will check your domain’s DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) settings and provide a clear report. This report will indicate whether your email settings are aligned with the expected standards.
Why Is This Check Important?
- Compliance Verification: The tool helps you verify compliance with the new email standards, ensuring that your communication strategies are up to date.
- Identifying Vulnerabilities: It can highlight potential vulnerabilities in your email security setup, allowing you to address them proactively.
- Enhancing Email Deliverability: By ensuring that your email settings are correctly configured, you improve the chances of your emails reaching your clients’ inboxes, rather than being diverted to spam folders.
- Building Trust: Using authenticated email practices builds trust with your clients, as it assures them that the communications they receive from you are secure and legitimate.
Should the Valimail DMARC Checker indicate that your settings need adjustment, it’s imperative to consult with your IT team or a digital marketing specialist immediately. They can assist in making the necessary changes to ensure that your email practices meet the current standards, safeguarding your email deliverability and the reputation of your real estate agency.
Consequences for Non-Compliance
The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated, given the reliance on bulk email within the real estate industry. If just 0.3% of your email list marks your messages as spam, or if there’s a 4% bounce rate, you’re in a danger zone. Such metrics can tarnish your domain name’s reputation, leading to a situation where even one-to-one emails to clients could be impacted.
Imagine the scenario: you’re on the verge of closing a sale, and your crucial email lands in the client’s spam folder. This is a risk no agency can afford to take.
The consequences of such damage extend far beyond bulk email campaigns. It can bleed into the very fabric of your everyday business communications. A tarnished domain reputation means that your one-to-one emails, the lifeline of your real estate dealings, might not reach your clients. They could end up in spam folders, unseen and unattended. This risk is particularly alarming in time-sensitive situations, such as finalising a deal or responding to client queries.
Simple Terms, Big Impacts: The Urgency of Consulting Your IT Team
Email authentication may sound technical, but its impact on your real estate agency’s daily operations is substantial. Understanding and implementing SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is crucial, and here’s why reaching out to your IT team or email provider is essential and urgent:
- Complex Technical Implementation: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are not just simple settings that can be turned on with a click. They involve configuring your email systems and domain settings in a specific way that proves your emails are legitimately coming from your agency. This process requires technical know-how and understanding of DNS (Domain Name System) records, email servers, and security protocols.
- Time-Consuming Setup: Setting up these authentication methods takes time. It’s not just about flipping a switch; it involves careful planning, implementation, and testing to ensure everything is working correctly. The sooner you start, the better positioned you’ll be when the new rules take effect.
- Avoiding Last-Minute Rush: As the deadline approaches, IT professionals and email service providers will be inundated with requests for assistance. By reaching out early, you ensure that your agency’s needs are prioritised and addressed in a timely manner.
- Ensuring Email Deliverability: Without these authentication protocols in place, there’s a real risk that your emails will end up in spam folders or not be delivered at all. This could mean missing crucial communication with clients, especially in time-sensitive situations like closing sales or sending property listings.
- Protecting Your Domain Reputation: Email authentication is not just about compliance; it’s also about protecting your agency’s online reputation. A domain that is not authenticated is more likely to be targeted by spammers, which can lead to blacklisting by email providers. This damage to your domain’s reputation can have long-lasting effects, well beyond the implementation of these new rules.
- Training and Awareness: Your IT team or email experts can also help in educating your staff about these changes. This includes understanding the importance of maintaining clean email lists, the implications of email bounces and spam reports, and best practices in email communications.
- Ongoing Support and Troubleshooting: After implementation, there may be issues that need addressing, such as tweaking settings or resolving deliverability issues. Having your IT team involved from the start ensures that you have ongoing support and expertise available.
Why Immediate Action is Essential
These changes are not mere technical adjustments; they are essential practices to maintain your agency’s email integrity. The timeline is tight, and the complexity of implementation means that waiting is not an option. Your IT team should be your first point of contact to ensure that these changes are implemented seamlessly and swiftly.
We’ve had just two proactive IT teams reach out to us (out of many hundreds) in the past month to confirm they’ve updated these records for our mutual clients. If this is any indication of the industry more broadly, it’s possible that most of the industry is about to get a big surprise when their emails start landing in spam next month.
As a real estate professional, your email communication is a lifeline to your clients and prospects. The urgency to adapt to these new rules cannot be overstated. Act now, consult with your IT team, and make the necessary changes to ensure your emails continue to reach their intended recipients. The cost of inaction could be a significant blow to your business’s communication effectiveness and, ultimately, its success.
These upcoming changes are beneficial, not only for the broader digital environment but for real estate agents as well. They aim to significantly reduce spam emails, creating a cleaner inbox experience for consumers. This means fewer unwanted messages that recipients never subscribed to, or worse, emails they’ve attempted to unsubscribe from without success. For agents, embracing these changes is a step towards more effective and respectful communication with their audience.
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