Rules in business:  Email marketing

There are some rules you actually have to follow

And that's not because you shouldn't dare to be different.

It's no secret that I challenge you to consistently think outside of the box and smash the definitions of success that we're constantly assaulted with, but there are still some rules that you can't afford not to follow. 

Especially when they relate to compliance.

And, no, I don't mean we all have to adapt vanilla values and behaviour.  
To the contrary, this is about how not complying with the rules would impact your ability to run your business successfully.

Email compliance

We're pretty used to spam hitting our inboxes these days, but just because it's commonplace doesn't mean we should accept it.

And the major players in the email ecosystem are finally doing something about it.  But that means more businesses now need to up their email game too.

On 1 February 2024, an email revolution is set to begin.  And if you're someone that relies on your mailing list for work, then you need to make sure that these rules are ones you've got a handle on.

What do I need to know?

  1. You need to own your domain.  Stop using free email domains (like; gmail, hotmail, yahoo) for your business email and invest in a custom domain.
  2. Authenticate your emails with SPF and/or DKIM, and DMARC.  And if you're using a third party tool like MailChimp or ConvertKit, then make sure you update this - even if you've previously done it.  The amount of emails hitting my inbox now  that say "sender not verified" from seasoned email marketing champs, is concerning.
  3. Ensure you have one-click unsubscribe enabled, and make sure you complete any unsubscribe requests within two days. If you can automate this, do it.  And if your email marketing tool allows you to put an unsubscribe function in the header and at the bottom, even better.
    Note that in Aotearoa, it is already a legal requirement of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 to have a functional unsubscribe option.
  4. Keep spam complaints below 0.3% - make sure that people on your email list, chose to join it.  

Look, these things aren't new.  They've been recommended for a long time to improve deliverability.  But the major difference now is that this is going to be an enforced requirement, and anyone not doing it risks the visibility of their business.

Does this impact everyone?
There are exceptions, these requirements are aimed at bulk senders which Google have specified as those sending more than 5,000 in a day.  Those people sending lesser amounts of emails could get away with only ensuring their SPF or DKIM authentication and not be impacted, but there are no guarantees.  And don't forget that these rules are from the email powerplayers, but there is also legislation around the world about email solicitation, which you also need to make sure you comply with.

How do I take care of these things?

The good news is that none of this is terribly difficult, but it is technical and if you're someone that can break your systems just by thinking about playing with it, it's a great idea to outsource these responsibilities to a professional.

How do I make sure I'm compliant?
It's a good idea to keep monitoring your stats.  But there are also some things you can do to manage your email lists effectively.

  • Check your email marketing platform's reporting dashboard. Do this after every campaign, and also check in regularly outside of this at a higher level.
  • If you use an external SMTP server, check those records regularly to see if there are any problems flagged. 
  • Check Google Postmaster Tools for a more detailed analysis
  • Segment your audience
  • Clean up your database regularly (some mailing systems charge you for inactive accounts so this is a good idea in more than one way).
  • Don't add people manually unless they are expecting it.  If you have a process to manually add new clients, then be sure to highlight your terms and conditions on sign-up - and include a statement in your email newsletters that explains why people are receiving your emails.

Any tips for technical help?

My favourite developer, and my own tech support is Kylie from The New Black Online.  

Her recommendation is to get email services direct from the source.  In plain language that means that because I chose to use Outlook for my business email, I pay for my email service directly from Microsoft and not via my website domain reseller.

If you were to use Google Workspace, then you'd license your email domain directly from Google.

There are some really easy guides available online for taking care of both of these options - or you could contact someone like Kylie for direct support in licensing (Microsoft) or set-up.

My email tech stack
I have Outlook for my daily email, but that's not good for campaign emails so I use an external solution.

Because my website is built using WordPress, I've got a license with FluentCRM that enables me to manage my entire email marketing system via my website.  It doesn't cost me more or less depending on the number of subscribers, I can automate every part of my email marketing, and I can segment and tag to my hearts content without it costing me.  

It also integrates with my online course software, and my booking system.

If you use WordPress for your website, I can't recommend these tools enough (affiliate links follow):

  • FluentCRM - campaign emails and all automations relating to my email marketing. I can send emails in bulk or as one-off messages, to any person on my mailing list. 
  • FluentSMTP - this is key to ensuring my day to day emails get sent.
  • SMTP2Go - this is key to my campaign emails being compliant and getting delivered.

The other important key to this equation.

Business processes.  Even if you're a sole operator, you need to make sure that you have a regular process in place to check that your systems are working.

That can be as simple as writing a flow chart and tagging this into your task list, or into your calendar once a month.  Or as complex as creating a technical document with instructions for every variable and role in the business.

If you're not sure where to start, then get in touch with me to nail your business processes, simply.


If you're serious about growing your business, then email marketing is a powerful and necessary tool.  

You need to make sure you have it set up the right way, and regularly check it is compliant with the regulations that are in place - legal and recommended. 

Get technical support.

Have business processes in place to make sure you don't end up the proverbial creek without a paddle because you slipped.