an image showing text about what a CMO thinks about google's changing email policy on the Invisory blog for ISVs and cloud marketplaces

A startup CMO’s guide to the latest Google email regulations

Google caused a stir in marketing in early October. It seems to have taken until this week to take over LinkedIn. 

Starting February 2024, Gmail will require the following for senders who send 5,000 or more messages a day to Gmail accounts: Authenticate outgoing email, avoid sending unwanted or unsolicited email, and make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe.

Being the CMO of an early stage startup comes with a special set of challenges and amazing opportunities. One of those challenges that many outside of marketing don’t think about is the issue of brand building without a subscribed audience aka marketing list. 

A bootstrapped startup doesn’t come with a marketing list. And as a marketer your list of prospects, customers, and partners is gold. It is who you can engage and share news with. Without a list you can actively market to, you’re forced to get creative.  

Pesky laws getting in the way of marketing creativity and spreading the great company word isn’t new. The new Google bulk email limitations sparked a lot of LinkedIn conversations this week, but it isn’t the first set of rules to throw a wrench in marketing outreach. CAN-SPAM Act in the US (circa 2003) and GDPR in Europe (circa 2018) were already tightening the reins on who you could market to and how. The days of buying lists are long gone so marketers must get creative. 

Ways to build your own organic list

Start with a unique POV – your company (product or services based) exists for a reason. Make sure that your point of view is unique. In a previous LinkedIn post I talked about swapping your joint value proposition to a unique value proposition. Once you have that messaging dialed in, you can use it to build your list through some of the exercises below:  

  • Events – sponsoring events not only gets you face to face with your audience and a chance to try out your elevator pitch BUT it also gives you lists. Whether you sponsor an event or an after party for an event you’ll walk away with a new set of individuals who you can market to. 
  • Webinars – free and easy, webinars are a great way to build your brand and your lists. All you need is a platform (Zoom works well), a speaker and a point of view. 
  • Newsletter – Newsletters are another way to grow your brand and list by highlighting thought leadership. For this one to work you need to promote folks signing up for your newsletter (social, on the webinar above, QR code at an event). 
  • Solid content – if you can create great content with a point of view that helps your audience you’ll attract attention. It might be slow to start, but as you build your brand as a helpful voice the followers and customers will follow. You need this solid content for the newsletter and webinar as well so create your unique position and start to document it in as many ways as you can. 
  • A mix of experts – Tap into or hire thought leaders who can speak on a variety of topics. The experience of each individual on your team is unique and especially in an early stage startup you need to take advantage of all of the experts and experience you can to show depth of knowledge and stand out as a SME early. Plus side, these experts usually come with their own audience so tap in.  

Easy ways to avoid being marked as spam

  • Work to build an honest list 
  • Offer content that would be hard to see as spam 
  • Don’t over contact cold prospects 
  • Make it easy for prospects to opt out (unsubscribe button)
  • Ask for opt ins whenever possible (webinars, events, website, prospect meetings, etc) 

There is plenty to keep me up at night but I’m not worried about the new regulations. I have used it as a teaching moment with my sales team. Rules and regulations will continue to shift but one thing will always remain the same, if you create good content that helps your target audience you will grow your marketing list and your customer base. It might take more time to play by the rules but I truly believe it will net better results.


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