If you are here, that means you've come across terms like SPF, DMARC, and DKIM and are interested in email security and deliverability.
Well, you've come to the right place. In this blog, we will learn what SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are, how to set them up effectively, and why they are crucial for safeguarding your email messages.
Additionally, I will share my personal experience on how these email authentication methods helped me improve my campaigns. So, without further ado, let's dive in!
What is DNS, SPF, DKIM, DMARC – Terminologies Explained
When talking about SPF, DMARC and DKIM the word DNS is mentioned a lot. But what exactly is DNS? DNS stands for Domain Name System, serving as the Internet's phonebook.
It performs the crucial task of translating domain names (like example.com) into corresponding IP addresses (such as 111.222.333.444). This translation enables web browsers to access and load the correct website by connecting to the corresponding IP address.
SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework and helps you know the emails you receive come from a legitimate and trusted source.
Using SPF records helps ISPs (Internet Service Providers) confirm if a mail server is allowed to send emails to a specific domain. An SPF record is a list of approved IP addresses that can send emails on behalf of your domain stored in a DNS TXT record.
If the server finds the email coming from an illegitimate source, it can be marked as spam. The idea behind SPF is simple: if the recipient knows the email's sender, they will be inclined to open it.
DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. DKIM adds a digital signature to your email, which helps prevent Phishing or Spoofing of your email domain.
A DKIM record is a special type of TXT record added to the sending domain's DNS records. It includes a public key used by receiving mail servers to validate the signature of a message.
If you don't have your DKIM setup, this can signal to the recipient that your email has not been sent from a legitimate source.
DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. It is a last-checking test that tells mail servers what to do when SPF or DKIM fails.
If an email has a DKIM signature and the sending server is included in the SPF records, then when you send an email, it will go straight to the recipient's inbox.
But, If your message fails SPF authentication or DKIM authentication, DMARC chooses what to do with the email according to the selected DMARC policy: None, Quarantine, or Reject.
How to Set Up SPF, DKIM and DMARC
To set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, you need to access and edit your DNS records which you can find in either your web hosting control panel or your domain registrar’s control panel.
Note: DKIM can take 48 hours to set up after you have done this.
Follow these steps to set up and implement DMARC
And you have successfully set up DMARC and added its records.
Also, you may have noticed The DMARC record shown above consists of various components like “v,” “p,” and “rua.” These are known as DMARC tags. These tags have specific values that define different aspects of DMARC.
Generating Custom DMARC Records
If you're still feeling unsure about adding your DMARC records and need help generating custom records, don't worry—I've got you covered!
Follow these steps to generate your custom DMARC records and copy and paste them into your DNS records.
- Go to https://dmarcguide.globalcyberalliance.org/
- Enter the domain name for which you want to generate your DMARC records (example.com) and then click on Submit.
And that’s it. You have set up your custom DMARC record.
Why it is Important to Setup SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
To understand this, let’s draw a comparison here:
Imagine you have a toothache and need a dentist to fix it. You come across two options: Option A is a certified dentist with a degree, years of experience, and a license to practice dentistry. Option B is a self-proclaimed dentist with no certification, questionable qualifications, and competency.
Which dentist would you trust more?
I'm sure you'd go with Option A without a second thought.
Well, the same principle applies to email authentication. When you set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, you essentially certify your email as trustworthy. It's like waving your authentication degree proudly in the digital world.
Proper email authentication boosts your sender reputation, protects your domains from sneaky spoofers and phishing attacks, and enhances your overall email deliverability. Like certified dentists inspire confidence in their patients, properly authenticated emails inspire trust in recipients' inboxes.
However, if you neglect email authentication, it's as if you're playing dentist with a DIY toolkit. Your marketing or sales emails may end up in the spam folder, sabotaging your chances of reaching potential clients.
In simple words, establishing proper email authentication indirectly contributes to the success of your campaigns and helps you attract more clients.
How Setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC helped our Campaigns
After working on email marketing and lead generation as a marketing team, we realized the struggles of finding the right leads, crafting personalized emails, and investing hours into research and campaign setup, only to see disappointing results.
It can be disheartening when your hard work goes to waste as your messages end up in spam folders, left unread by recipients. That's why we decided to investigate the root causes of this issue.
Maintaining list hygiene and following email writing best practices didn't cut it for achieving high open rates. We discovered that email authentication plays a vital role, as reputable organizations tend to classify unauthenticated and suspicious emails as spam.
After realizing that warm-up strategies alone weren't yielding significant results, we focused on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC implementation for our sender domains, following the steps we mentioned earlier.
The outcome was great as we saw a noticeable improvement in email deliverability, and open rates were slowly increasing, indicating that our emails were now successfully reaching recipients' inboxes.
As an email marketer, one of your primary objectives is to ensure that every message you send lands in the recipients' inboxes.
People who receive emails from your domain that are legitimate in nature are more likely to trust and engage with them. This results in more customers and an overall boost to your business's success.
Further, if you find any issues and need expert advice, please contact webdew.
Edited by: Vaishnavi Jain