New Rules of Email Marketing

New rules of email marketing

New Rules of Email Marketing replay below.
See below 👇 for all the deets you need on:

1. Authentication (DKIM, DMARC, SPF)

2. Engagement and spam rules

3. Any questions you might have

The new rules of email marketing are all about email deliverability and getting your emails to the inbox of the people you want to talk with. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and Apple have changed how all of it works. Because they can.

I’ve learned a lot recently and am happy to share with you if you want to know more about this evolving topic. Below are some key points and details, but there’s always more to know. So, I just wanna say that this isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it’s a solid start: We’re talking about SPF, DKIM, DMARC, the actual content in your email (seriously, does THAT matter??!), engagement, reputation, and more…

And with email still holding the spot as the top ROI-producing marketing tactic out there (according to Litmus emails brings in $36 for every $1 spent) we gotta get on top of this! So here goes…

TLDR? Just look for “>> DO THIS” below.

Watch the video 👇 or read on to get the info you need on
1) Authentication (DKIM, DMARC, SPF) and 2) Engagement and spam rules.

EmailSmart certified partner
  1. Engagement
    The Rules of Engagement around email have changed and continue to change.

    “Between 30% and 50% of contacts on a typical email list are liabilities,” according to the super smart folks at EmailSmart, Adrian Savage, Evan Samurin, and Mark Penney. “Senders who don’t carefully manage the engagement of their list will also be more heavily penalised.”

    Top indication of email engagement is email clicks. Next is email opens. If someone has not opened or clicked in the last weeks or months, you probably shouldn’t be emailing them anymore. If will hurt your email reputation. The email service providers know who is or isn’t clicking or opening and they decide whether to put your emails into inboxes or not based on that behavior. Truth.

    Have you heard of Spam traps?! Watch out!!! “Spam traps are email addresses used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and blocklist operators to identify senders who aren’t following email best practices. These spam trap email addresses may have been legitimate at one time, but are now abandoned or invalid,” according to Hubspot. With that in mind, you may want to clean your list – we use Klean13. Try it!

    >> DO THIS: Check your email health score here (it’s free)

Here’s an example of an engagement widget you can build in Keap or in your email marketing software.

Email engagement widget keap
Keap email engagement search criteria

Do you have a way to re-engage with people who have not opened or clicked an email recently? We’ve been putting Re-engagement Campaigns in place for all of the clients we work with. Happy to share more – book a 15-min call with me if you want to talk about it.

This is what Klean13 looks like. Find out what addresses are good, bad, unknown…


2. Reputation and Spam Rate

As mentioned, email service providers know who is or isn’t clicking or opening your emails and they decide whether to put your emails into inboxes or not based on that behavior. And they know if you are sending email to bad addresses. They don’t want us sending email to bad addresses and people who don’t engage and if we do we’ll be penalized for it!

Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and Apple track your reputation as an email sender. Google is kind enough to share what they thing of us. However, Apple, Yahoo, and Microsoft keep their ratings of you and me to themselves.

• Google says this about spam rate:

• Yahoo says:
Keep spam complaint rates low. Keep your spam rate below 0.3%. Beginning in February 2024, enforcement of the following sending standards will take effect. Ensure you meet these requirements in order to avoid a negative impact to the delivery of your mail at Yahoo domains. Enforcement will be gradually rolled out, as we monitor compliance through the first half of the year. The requirements are subject to change, so please monitor our blog and for updates.
You can enroll in their Complaint Feedback Loop (CFL) program to get reports if your emails are marked as spam.

Microsoft says:
Continuing to send emails to a person who has marked your email campaigns as spam negatively affects your sending reputation and labels you as a spam source.

Sending frequent emails to hard-bounced, invalid email addresses alerts remote spam filters to potential “spammy” behavior. These alerts affect your inbox placement and deliverability results. Sending multiple hard bounces to the same email provider in the same batch may even lead to the email provider completely blocking a sender, which can affect valid recipients.

>> DO THIS: Check Google Postmaster Tools for your domain reputation, spam rate: (free)

domain reputation

Keap says: Aim to keep your spam complaint rate at 1 per 1,000 emails (.1%) or lower with each email provider to keep your emails out of spam. Once a complaint rate of 3 per 1000 emails (.3%) is detected at Gmail, your emails can be rejected from their network entirely. 
EmailSmart says that means 1 per 1,000 emails opened!!! Not 1 per 1,000 emails sent. For reals.

If there are issues, here are some more tools to use:

3. Spam Bots

You can’t afford to have bad email addresses on your list. We’re seeing spam bots filling in web forms everyday now. When you email someone at a bad address, your email reputation suffers. It’s a bad mark against your email reputation. You can’t afford it. See my convo with the brilliant Mihir Dhandha from SpamKill right here.

>> DO THIS: Get SpamKill here, sign up for the free trial to see if you like. For the price of a couple of coffees per month, you gotta have it. Works with pretty much any email system and with WordPress.

spam bot example get SpamKill

4. Authentication

Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple have made changes that are impacting your email deliverability right now! According to EmailSmart, “From February 1st, 2024, Google and Yahoo will no longer deliver emails that have not been correctly authenticated.” SPF, DKIM, and DMARC all need to be setup in order for your emails to get to someone’s inbox – that helps the internet and email service providers know that your email marking system is allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain.

See below👇👇 for details on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Or if that seems overwhelming, check out my friend’s EmailSmart KickStart program here.

• SPF (Sender Policy Framework)

The purpose of an SPF record is to prevent spammers from sending messages with forged From addresses at your domain. An SPF record is a type of Domain Name Service (DNS) record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain.

The latest info is that Microsoft still relies on SPF while the others don’t. So I’m still setting up SPF for everyone.

Whatever software you use to send email needs to be referenced in your SPF record. For example, if you use Google, OnceHub, Spiffy and Keap – all those need to be mentioned in your SPF record. Or maybe you use Microsoft, Pardot, and Salesforce – again, all those need to be mentioned in your SPF record.

You’ll generally create your SPF record wherever your domain is registered or hosted. That’s where you’ll update your DNS records. You might use Google or Microsoft as your email service provider but your DNS records might be with GoDaddy or SiteGround. If there’s someone at your company handling the website or your domain, they may be the person to help with DNS records.

>> DO THIS: Use (free) to check if your SPF record is valid.
Look at the SPF record to see if it appears to be right. If applicable, check that is in the record. If there’s an issue, get access to where DNS is hosted and set up your SPF record.

Kokoro SPF dmarcian example

Alternately, here’s EmailSmart’s free authentication checker.

Here’s what GoDaddy says about making your SPF record. And this is from SiteGround.
And here’s a free SPF generator from MXToolBox.

Please note that you should have just one SPF record, even if you need to indicate more than one email system.

Here’s an example SPF record where both Keap and Gmail are indicated:
v=spf1 a mx ~all

“mx” instructs the web to allow your domain’s own mx servers to send email with your from address
“” tells email providers Keap/Infusionsoft is allowed to send email with your from address
a” in your SPF record allows any server with an IP address listed in the domain’s A or AAAA records to send emails on behalf of your domain
“-all” tells the web to restrict everyone else (not listed) from sending email with your from address.
“~all” is a softfail, not as strict as the “-all”

Kokoro SPF siteground

• DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)

DKIM allows the receiver to check that an email that claimed to have come from a specific domain was indeed authorized by the owner of that domain. See more details on the MXToolBox site.

Like your SPF record, you’ll generally create your DKIM wherever your domain is registered or hosted. (See above) That’s where you’ll update your DNS records.

DKIM setup is a 2 step process. First, settings need to be generated in Keap. Next, the info from Keap is used to create the DNS record for your DKIM. Finally, you can check inside of your Keap app to see that your DKIM is validated.

>> DO THIS: If using Keap, log into the app and see that DKIM  is validated.
Or log into your email marketing system/marketing automation and check there.
If needed, set it up:

Here’s how to setup your DKIM from GoDaddy, DKIM setup from BlueHost.
Here’s step by step info from Keap on how to set up your DKIM.

Kokoro DKIM siteground CNAME Keap
Kokoro DKIM connected Keap

CloudFlare – special info from the fabulous Mark Meppy Penny:
If you are using Cloudflare for DNS (and you should be…) then please make sure you turn the Proxy setting for your DKIM records to DNS only. If you have it turned on it WILL NOT WORK.


• DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance)

According to MXToolBox, “DMARC protects against spoofing, phishing, and helps prevent your email messages from being marked as spam.”

Configure DKIM and SPF before configuring DMARC. DKIM and SPF should be authenticating messages for at least 48 hours before turning on DMARC.

>> DO THIS: Check your DMARC status here: (free)

How to create DMARC record:

MXToolBox says that a DMARC record is used by receiving mail servers (think Gmail or Yahoo! Mail) to determine what to do with a failed message. The receiving mail server at Gmail looks at the DMARC record for the policy to follow from the following choices:
• Do nothing to the message
• Quarantine the message
• Reject the message

One school of thought is to start with a relaxed DMARC policy. You can start with a DMARC record with enforcement set to none, and an email address configured to get daily DMARC reports. This lets you start getting reports without risking messages from your domain being rejected or marked as spam by receiving servers. But there are other opinions on this…

Anyway, here’s an example: “v=DMARC1; p=none;”

Once you’re set up, you can get reports for free from

Need to troubleshoot a DMARC problem? Try these: and

5. Your Email Content

What’s in your email affects whether it gets into the inbox or not. Truth!!

Email body left aligned?
From address match signature?
Helpful link/call to action in top part of email (above the fold) for engagement
No header image?
Image size/heaviness
No more than 2 images in most emails
Not too much formatting!
Personalized subject lines and body throughout as appropriate
No more than 2-3 links in most emails
No naked links (i.e. displaying the actual URL of the link in the email body rather than a link saying “book your call here”)
Links should be from same domain as the from address whenever possible

6. Sources
Authentication check (free):
New Health check (free):
Kickstart from EmailSmart:

7. What Next?!

• Want some help with all of this? Or want help with your marketing to making sure it’s starting sales conversations? Book a (free, no-presh) 15-min call here.

• Or buy a block of time with Team Kokoro.

• Want to see a “menu” of cool things we can do for you?

• Here’s what Kokoro clients are saying