January 27, 2024

Google Sender Guidelines Update 2024 - Impact on Outreach Spam Rates

Google's new sender guidelines have changed the email regulations for 2024. Here’s an outline of the new rules for all and bulk senders, with guidance on how to get ready.

Google Sender Guidelines Update 2024 - Impact on Outreach Spam Rates

In October 2023, Google initially shared their updated sender guidelines coming into effect in February 2024. Shortly after, both and Salesloft shared notification emails with their customers to highlight some of the ways this will impact B2B outbound emails.

Quickly after that, everyone who’s built an outbound sales motion made email deliverability and raising the quality of the outbound they conduct a top priority. With this renewed focus on deliverability as an area of go-to-market, which has been seen as more niche over the last few years - there have been plenty of opinions and questions from the ecosystem on what this means for the future of sales. 

Then, as a plot twist in December 2023, Google made a new update to the sender requirements stating the sender guidelines and enforcement will apply only to emails sent to personal Gmail accounts ( or emails), not corporate Google Workspace accounts.

At Allegrow, we’ve analyzed over 70 million B2B emails for inbox placement to date and wanted to help provide clarifications on some aspects of the Google Sender Guidelines which are frequently misinterpreted, the top steps to get ready for these coming into effect and key signals to watch out for which indicate that you’re not currently aligned with the guidelines.

We’re all in agreement that these guidelines will raise the bar for outbound prospecting significantly, and in this outline of the Google Sender Guidelines, we’ll summarize:

Who will be impacted?

The Google Sender Requirements impact anyone and everyone who needs to send and deliver emails to personal Gmail inboxes; this means when you’re sending emails to and addresses, they are within the scope of the policy from 1st of February 2024 onwards.

This means the new guidelines will impact you even if you’re not using Google Workspace to send emails and are using a different email provider or a bulk email delivery system. 

One of the areas of the policy we’ll review in more detail today is the 0.3% manual spam report rate limit Google lists as a requirement. However, it’s important to outline initially that one of the biggest misconceptions about the policy is the false notion that the guidelines will only impact those sending more than 5,000 messages to Google users each day.

Google explicitly states that keeping manual spam report rates below 0.3% is a guideline for all senders to successfully deliver emails as expected to Google users. The emphasis of these guidelines to higher volume senders simply indicates there’s more notification towards higher volume senders and some additional guidelines higher volume senders should follow.   

Some people may believe the policy indicates there will be greater enforcement of this towards higher volume senders (enterprise businesses), but at Allegrow, we would draw more attention to the fact that the main indicator of risk for your organization is the total percentage of your overall email traffic that’s ‘high risk’ rather than your top-line volume. More on this will be outlined to help you map your report rate risk.

Even though the requirements do not currently have most B2B emails within scope as these messages would be sent to Google Workspace accounts, the initial version of the policy explicitly stated ‘work or school account from Google Workspace’ would need to meet the guidelines. Therefore, B2B senders would be wise to assume that they’ll need to meet similar requirements to deliver emails successfully over the long term.

Requirements for ALL senders to Google users

 There are seven requirements for all senders:

1) Set up SPF or DKIM email authentication for your domain. These authentication protocols can be set up following our guidance here, and help to ensure messages from your domain cannot be impersonated. Therefore helping to protect recipients from malicious messages. 

2) Ensure that sending domains or IPs have valid forward and reverse DNS records (PTR records). This is more relevant if you’re sending from your own server and means you’ll need to ensure your sending IP has a PTR record you can check for a PTR record by entering your website address to the Google Toolbox Dig available here. When senders are utilizing Google Workspace, they simply need to ensure that the MX records Google provides you have been set up correctly on your DNS.

3) Use a TLS connection for transmitting email. This security protocol being in place means emails you send will be encrypted, preventing unauthorized access to your email when it's in transit over internet connections. Gmail will always attempt to use TLS by default, and instructions on setting this up as a requirement are available here.

4) Keep spam report rates below 0.10% and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher. How to monitor this rate in postmaster tools is outlined here.

5) Format messages according to the Internet Message Format standard RFC 5322. This provides a protocol to format email messages so they are received in the same consistent structure by email clients. Messages sent via Google Workspace or Office 365 will meet these guidelines by default. Therefore, senders using their own servers, legacy systems, HTML emails or custom headers are more likely impacted by this requirement.

6) Don’t impersonate Gmail From: headers. This means you can under no circumstances use in the ‘From:’ field of an email you send with a 3rd party platform. It was already best practice not to do this and would have failed DMARC. However, Gmail will now use a quarantine policy, meaning delivery is more significantly impacted.

7) If you regularly forward emails, add ARC headers / ARC Authentication to outgoing email. This is particularly relevant if you’re using email groups, newsletters, or operating an inbound gateway. When you add ARC headers to an outgoing email that you're forwarding, you're essentially including information about the email's original authentication status and that you are the one forwarding it.

Additional requirements for bulk senders (ever over 5K+ daily)

If your organization sends more than 5K emails inside a 24hr period, as well as following the guidelines for all senders, there are three additional requirements: 

8) Have DMARC authentication fully set up on your sending domains. The enforcement policy can be initially set to ‘None’, which is the least stringent level of DMARC enforcement. However, if you want to utilize BIMI in the future, you’ll need to graduate to a ‘quarantine’ or ‘reject’ policy:

9) When sending direct mail to recipients, the ‘From: Header’ in your email must be aligned with either the SPF or DKIM domain. This means you’ll likely want to select ‘relaxed’ DMARC alignment if you’re regularly utilizing subdomains. Or, if you use different TLDs / domain names, you’ll need to ensure these domains have their own independent SPF and DKIM authentication set-up.

10) Marketing messages or emails to a subscriber list are required to have ‘one click unsubscribe’ and a clearly visible unsubscribe link in the message body.

Top Steps to Be Ready

 The key to aligning your sales organization and technical email set-up around these new guidelines is being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to taking steps to: Asses your current risk, increase the quality of your sales approach, and decrease the risk of your outbound email traffic.

Many of the requirements have been accepted as best practice and have impacted deliverability for some time. Here’s the top ten steps you can take to be ready for the guideline update coming into effect in February 2024 and future updates which may impact B2B sending more directly:

1) Mapping the 0.3% report rate risk

The number that worries most senders is Google’s statement that you’ll need to keep manual spam report rates below 0.3%. So that we’re on the same page about what a manual report looks like here’s an outline:

Summarized, this means if 3 in every 1,000 prospects you reach out to report you as spam, then you’ve broken the guideline report rate. However, this report rate includes the entirety of your organization's email sending to Gmail (personal) users, not just marketing emails. In reality, general email traffic with customers and inbound communications are highly unlikely to be reported as spam, therefore, organizations which have ‘risky’ traffic making up a small portion of their overall volume are likely to find complying far more feasible.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the effective report rate limit that applies to outbound traffic, you’ll want to follow these guidance points to map your report rate risk.

  • Firstly, segment all traffic to personal email users - as the guidance shared currently applies to @gmail mailboxes.
  • Calculate your organization’s total email volume on an average month to these users. (this means adding up: general email sending, customer communications, finance emails, product notifications/transactional emails and the sales team's volume).
  • Quantify what volume of emails from your marketing/sales team or other departments are ‘risky’. Meaning the person they contact has not engaged recently or clearly indicated they want to receive emails with promotions/offers.
  • Then, by dividing the ‘risky’ number by the ‘total email volume’ and multiplying the result by one hundred, you’ve calculated the percentage of your email traffic which is at the highest risk of manual reports.
  • Now, to get an idea of the effective report rate limit on your outbound traffic, divide 100 by the percentage of your traffic that is at high risk. Then, proceed to multiply the 0.3% report rate by this result. This is a guide on your effective report rate limit on outbound sending.

As an example, if we applied this logic to an organization where the unengaged, @gmail segment of their list was only 10% of email traffic to personal email accounts, we’d arrive at the conclusion that a 3% effective report rate is the limit on our outbound traffic which could lead to breaching the guidelines on a 0.3% overall manual report rate.

Therefore, as a first step to preparing for the Google Sender guidelines coming into effect, it’s important to map the report rate limit in the context of all your email traffic – as you’ll be able to quantify your organizations risk and make any necessary adjustments to volume to lower this.

The advised best practice for B2B organizations is to only ever contact @gmail emails if they have provided double-opt-in or completely remove sending to these types of emails. Whereas B2C are likely to have larger numbers of personal emails in their list, therefore, they should only contact users who have provided double opt-in and remove recipients from promotional emails if they have not engaged positively within at least 6 months.

2) Monitoring report rate in Postmaster tools

 Thankfully, the sender guidelines provide more transparency on what overall percentage of manual spam reports will cause deliverability issues. Google specifically states, as a requirement for both ALL Senders and Senders that conduct over 5K in daily volume, that you should: ‘Keep spam rates reported in Postmaster Tools below 0.10% and avoid ever reaching a spam rate of 0.30% or higher.’


As Google specifically references Postmaster Tools being used to track report rate in their documentation, every sender should set up postmaster tools in advance of February. Our guidance available here, outlines how to set up, use, and interpret postmaster tools data.

When you begin reviewing Postmaster Tools data, it’s important to note if you don’t find data at all, you might not be in the ‘all clear’. You’ll need to send to at least hundreds of Google email users each day to have data populated at all, and there are other data exemptions that can prevent you from being able to access this information.

Many people ask, ‘If I ever cross the 0.3% report rate, does this mean I’ll lose access to email?’ – The short answer is you’ll need to stay generally below a 0.1% report rate on average and below a 0.3% report rate to avoid deliverability issues. The fact that Google states, ‘Maintaining a low spam rate makes senders more resilient to occasional spikes in user feedback.’, would indicate that any one-off spikes will be considered in the context of your general sending behavior and if you appear to be a credible organization you’ll have better resilience in sender reputation.

Therefore, you should monitor the ‘Spam Rate’, data in Google Postmaster Tools to see if you are typically within the guidelines of below 0.1% generally and not crossing 0.3% ahead of February 2024. While ensuring you’re aware of what Postmaster Tools won’t provide you.

3) DKIM, SPF, and DMARC Authentication

Having SPF, DKIM and DMARC authentication has long been considered as a deliverability best practice. However, having these authentication protocols consistently in place and tested for your sending operations will help your domain be viewed as a trustworthy sender in the eyes of Google.

The reason is that email providers are consistently focused on reducing instances of phishing, impersonation and interception of email traffic. These authentication protocols clearly show receiving servers the domain being listed as the sender did, in fact, send the email and the email has not been compromised during its delivery path

4) Making outbound less cold

Although the current requirements are based on personal email traffic (which should never be 'cold'), for B2B users - Fundamentally, making your outbound ‘less cold’ will reduce spam report risk and improve prospecting results. It’s a win-win for revenue operations and sales teams of any scale. But how you practically achieve this is a challenge, especially if you’ve had a prior culture of reaching out to contacts only because of their job title and industry.

The easiest way to make outbound less cold is to ensure you have an objectively great reason for reaching out to each contact. This typically means you’ve found a specific reason why the company you’re contacting might have the problem your solution solves. The more specific and customized the reason, typically the ‘less cold’ your outreach will be perceived.

Examples of how you can determine and find a business is likely to have the problem you solve include the following methods:

  • Content they’ve engaged with on Linkedin/Twitter - This could be specific content from thought leaders in your niche discussing the problem you address and can be attributed on a logo basis rather than just a per-contact basis. 
  • Glassdoor reviews - You can refer to key themes or specific pros/cons mentioned by the own companies' employees on Glassdoor. 
  • Job postings - You can refer to and search for companies that are hiring in specific roles, which means they’re likely to be addressing/experiencing the problem you solve. You could also consider new key hires that have been made in the same way. 
  • Changes in technology - As businesses move from one technology to another, this can signal specific challenges/needs. Their current tech stack is also a way to make your account selection more targeted.
  • G2 Crowd Reviews / Other Reviews - Either specific reviews people at your target account have submitted on other technologies/services or reviews your target business has received can signal key initiatives, point points, and differentiators that create hyper-relevance.

There are many trigger events that can occur for a business beyond the above, which will be more specific to your industry and value proposition and industry. Therefore, you should invest in identifying and sourcing accounts that meet these criteria. But, beyond reaching out to businesses that are likely to have the problem you solve, you can also reach out to contacts that have a level of awareness/intent about your business, in general, to make outbound less cold. Examples of ways you can reach out to contacts who have this intent include the following:

  • They’ve engaged with your social media posts. If a contact/target customer has engaged with a post or reaction of yours/your brand on social media, this can be a clear signal of intent to reach out to the prospect directly over email. Engagements could include aspects like commenting or liking your LinkedIn post. 
  • They’ve visited your website. If someone’s already browsed your website, this is a clear indicator they have an interest in the type of solution you provide. Now, there are solutions like Warmly (who use Allegrow for their email deliverability!) that will help you identify contacts visiting your site so you can prioritize reaching out to them.
  • Engaged with you during an outbound call. If you have a conversation with a prospect during an outbound phone call, and they do not actively ask you to remove them from your list - then you are able to build on this engagement over email in an outbound manner.
  • Used your product in a past role and changed jobs. A great signal of intent in the B2B world is end users of your product changing jobs and using this as a trigger to reach out to them via email at their new gig. (For example, if your end users are SDRs, you can track job changes, and when prior users get a new role as an AE or SDR at a new company - reach out to ask them if they think your use case is relevant to their new job)
  • Met you at a conference. If you meet at or attend conferences with someone, this can be a clear intent signal that you have a mutual area of interest. Therefore, as long as the way you conduct this process isn’t spammy, it can be a great way to conduct outbound prospecting that’s less cold.
  • Interacted with you on LinkedIn. When a target customer directly interacts with you on LinkedIn (for example, by responding to a message you send them), a great next step to take based on that intent is to email them directly.

Overall, there’s a large variety of creative ways you can implement to prioritize reaching out to the right contacts at the right company at the right time. If you’re able to implement best practices to improve prospecting quality, the deliverability solution you utilize to avoid spam traps will become even more effective.

5) Reduce high-risk sending

There are certain types of email sending activity, that make you look like a spammer to email providers. Therefore, reducing the risk level of your email sending is a fundamental step to help your emails reach the primary inbox rather than the spam folder, maintaining a good standing with email providers.

High-risk sending includes when outreach happens to contacts that fit within the following criteria:

  • Contacts that produce bounces – Many people incorrectly believe that bounces are only produced when you reach out to contacts that don’t exist. However, bounces are also frequently produced when servers have rejected your email or you’ve been flagged as a high-risk sender by email providers.  
  • Low engagement is received – Email providers track engagement across the traffic you send, so if you reach out to many contacts that provide below-average engagement, this is a clear signal you could be a high-risk spammer.
  • Higher than average report rates – when you’ve been reported as spam to a large number of recipients, this is a clear indicator that you’re a high-risk sender. As context, anything higher than a report rate of 0.1% on your overall email traffic is considered high.

When it comes to email outreach activity, you can use bounce rate as a universal benchmark which will give a clear indicator if your traffic is ‘high risk’. A study conducted by concluded that if your senders have a bounce rate higher than 2.8%, then it’s highly likely your emails are being flagged as spam by email providers.

At Allegrow, we built our Safety Net to help reduce sending to high-risk contacts automatically during the outbound sales motion while increasing the efficiency of pipeline production by sales teams.

6) Increase multi-channel

 As automation has become easier in recent years, the overuse of outbound emails in sales has become a common issue.  By increasing the number of multi-channel touchpoints on your outreach sequences, you’ll have better engagement and need to send less email volume to generate a lead. 

Therefore, using a generally lower number of emails in a sequence combined with touchpoints across different contact channels is a best practice your team should embrace for a quality-first approach toward prospecting.

Some examples of how to balance email touchpoints with other channels across varying market segments of prospects are as follows:

  • SMB prospects = 2-4 total emails in sequence with 5 to 8 total touch points. With the entire sequence spread over 30 days.
  • Mid-Market prospects = 3-6 total emails in sequence with 5 to 8 total touch points. With the entire sequence spread over 30-60 days.
  • Enterprise prospects = 5-9 total emails in sequence with 10 to 18 total touch points. With the entire sequence spread over 30-60 days.

7) Make content less aggressive

 If the outreach emails you send to prospects are annoying, regardless of other optimizations, it will be difficult to consistently receive high levels of email engagement.

Although annoyance is subjective, there are some common traits across sequences that lead to higher levels of spam reports that we’ve analyzed. These traits can be summarized specifically for sales teams as follows:

8) Monitor individual spam rate

 Often, a small number of contributors across a large team can create deliverability issues for the wider sales organization. The issue with easily identifying which reps are in most need of enablement from a deliverability standpoint is that managers often have no process or data to provide ongoing spam rating which compares each rep to their peers.

Therefore, by implementing a leaderboard system across every salesperson, you can quickly highlight and provide support to contributors who have the highest spam rate. This means you’re being proactive rather than reactive about finding spam issues. This means you should be able to contain any issues caused by automation on individual users before they impact the wider company.


Top Five Indicators You Have Spam Issues

 Especially with B2B senders, it can be hard to know what benchmarks you should look at to evaluate if you are likely to have issues reaching Google’s expectations of what a high-quality sender looks like.

Therefore, we’ve outlined the 5 most common indicators you’re likely to have spam issues that need to be proactively resolved. Often, these indicators are the tip of the iceberg of deliverability issues, and by resolving them, you can have a more productive and sustainable sales motion:

1) Report rate above 0.3% in postmaster tools

 After utilizing Google Postmaster Tools, if you find periods where your spam rate is above 0.3% you’re likely to have deliverability issues and be perceived as a lower-quality sender by Google. Although the Google Sender Requirements update will not currently enforce requirements on emails sent to Google Workspace accounts, it’s likely Google is still using spam rate to benchmark sender quality and reliability in a B2B context.

However, many B2B senders find the spam rate data from postmaster tools can prove inconclusive for their practices, which is why it’s important to evaluate all five benchmarks to get an indication of sender risk.

2) Email account suspensions

When your IT team regularly needs to reinstate user's mailboxes due to suspension, this indicates that users are being reported as spam at a level where Google has determined their email activity should be limited.

There is also now an escalation of the suspensions Google now implements where you may be required to ‘appeal’ suspensions in order to reinstate a mailbox. As Google states you can only reinstate a suspended mailbox 5 times per calendar year in their documentation, these occurring regularly for spam reports can start to create long-term issues.

3) Invalid email authentication

 Based on the number of policies Google has added around authentication protocols, it’s clear that from an email providers perspective, emails that have authentication protocols fully implemented are viewed as more trustworthy and lower risk.

Therefore, without DKIM, SPF and DMARC being implemented and functioning correctly the chances of you being filtered to the spam folder is high. In order to ensure these are functioning at all times, you can implement a testing process for email authentication which will automatically alert you of any issues.

4) High Bounce Rate

 Analyzing your email bounce rate can provide a clear indication of spam risk. Although many senders incorrectly assume this value as a percentage is generally low, senders with bounce rates above 2.8% indicate spam issues that will need to be resolved for two primary reasons:

  • Bounces near this level are an obvious indicator to email providers you are reaching out to contacts that you don’t know. As this rate is far lower on general email traffic.
  • As the contact data provider you use will verify contacts as standard, this indicates your emails are being rejected by receiving servers, rather than bouncing due to data quality.

To reduce this rate, you can implement a specialized deliverability tool, like an email safety net, to avoid spam traps.

5) Below engagement benchmarks

 Having email engagement below these benchmarks can be an indicator that your outreach approach is not sustainable. Receiving low engagement makes it less likely for future emails you send to reach the primary inbox and is typically how deliverability issues gradually increase:

  • Email response rates on a per email basis of 3% or more.
  • Overall positive email response rate of 1.7% or higher.
  • Top-line email response rates (on a per-contact basis) of above 12%.
  • Open rates of above 40% (although this metric can be more volatile based on market segment).
  • Bounce rates lower than 2.8%.
  • Opt-out rates below 1.1%.

These benchmarks have been organized based on Allegrow research combined with benchmarking reports from Salesloft and Outreach.

Enforcement & Roll Out Guidelines Released

Google has shared some guidance on their current enforcement plans and key timelines to bring users into compliance with their sender guidelines in a gradual manner, which helps users self-identify if they have issues and resolve them in a timely manner. 

The key timelines for enforcement summarized are as follows:

  • On the 1st of February 2024 at the earliest (however, Google does not exactly specify which specific day in February), users will begin to see a small percentage of their non-compliant traffic providing temporary errors. This is designed to allow users to self-identify that they are not meeting the sender requirements and correct issues.
  • Then, on the 1st of April 2024 at the earliest (Google does not specify the exact day, but states ‘In April’), Google will start to permanently reject a percentage of non-compliant email traffic and gradually increase the percentage of this non-compliant traffic that gets rejected. This is designed to start limiting the activity of users who are not complying with the guidelines and make it increasingly more obvious to users they need to update their sending practices.
  • Bulk senders have a deadline of June 1st 2024, to implement one-click unsubscribe on all commercial, promotional messages. This means if you have not implemented one-click unsubscribe before this specific date, you will not meet bulk sender requirements and are likely to experience delivery issues.
  • Finally, Google states they will prioritize supporting delivery issues for senders who have proactively demonstrated they meet all the new sender requirements. Therefore, you can anticipate that if you want to be able to receive support, taking action ahead of the required deadlines is advised.

In summary, Google states that if you don’t meet their sender requirements, your emails might be rejected or delivered to recipients' spam folders. It’s currently unknown how quickly Google will increase the percentage of non-compliant traffic that gets rejected or temporary errors. However, as the escalation from errors to rejections appears to occur over a 60 day period, we would anticipate the escalation of the percentage of traffic being impacted also occurs over approximately a 60-day period.

A final major unknown factor is at what point (if at all) Google will increase the scope of the sender requirements to include report data from Google Workspace recipients. However, based on current data, it appears there is an existing limit on report rate generated by Google Workspace recipients that will impact your account with suspensions, and as the initial version of the Sender Requirements Google published did include Google Workspace accounts, you’d be wise to proactively improve the quality of your B2B sending.