Email Deliverability: What is SPF, DMARC and DKIM?

The ABCs of delivering Email and why you should care.

Ensuring your emails reach the intended recipients is a critical aspect of day to day business, let alone any successful marketing strategy, and is a multifaceted puzzle solved through the adoption of SPF, DMARC and DKIM protocols. We recently wrote an article on the benefits of Mailchimp but how do you ensure newsletters (and your day to day email) are delivered successfully?

Google and Yahoo have recently announced new requirements for bulk senders (or, as Google defines, anyone who sends more than 5,000 emails per day). These changes impact customers of any email service provider and while you might not be a bulk email sender, taking the same steps is good practice as they can help improve your email deliverability and may be a requirement in the near future.

DKIM and SPF are already a requirement for some recipients like Yahoo and Sky, and many other providers will automatically junk your message without them.

You can read Google’s and Yahoo’s announcements for the full details, but the main take away is that senders will need to have SPF, DMARC, and DKIM set up correctly.

Let’s delve into these acronyms and understand how they act as the guardians of your email correspondence.

SPF (Sender Policy Framework): Defending Against Spoofing

What is SPF? SPF is a simple yet powerful email authentication method. It designates which mail servers are authorised to send emails on behalf of your domain.

How Does it Enhance Deliverability? By explicitly defining authorised sending servers, SPF mitigates the risk of email spoofing. It acts as a virtual handshake, ensuring that receivers can authenticate the legitimacy of your emails.

You can find details on setting up SPF records here.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): Unifying Authentication Protocols

What is DMARC? DMARC builds upon SPF and DKIM, providing an additional layer of email authentication. It allows senders to instruct email providers on how to handle unauthenticated emails.

The Role of DMARC in Email Security: DMARC enhances deliverability by offering a policy framework. It instructs email providers on whether to deliver, quarantine, or reject unauthenticated emails, providing a unified and standardised approach to email authentication.

You can find steps for setting up DMARC here.

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail): Securing the Content of Your Emails

What is DKIM? DKIM involves adding a digital signature to email headers, allowing the receiving server to verify that the message content hasn’t been tampered with during transit.

How DKIM Boosts Deliverability: By signing your emails with a cryptographic signature, DKIM ensures the integrity of your message. This not only enhances deliverability but also builds trust with email providers.

You can find steps for setting up DKIM here.

Why Do These Protocols Matter for You?

  1. Credibility and Trust: Implementing SPF, DMARC, and DKIM signals to email providers that your communications are legitimate. This builds trust and credibility, reducing the likelihood of your emails ending up in spam folders.
  2. Improved Deliverability Rates: Email providers prioritise authenticated emails. Implementing these protocols increases the chances of your messages landing in the recipient’s inbox, fostering better engagement.
  3. Protection Against Spoofing and Phishing: SPF, DMARC, and DKIM collectively act as a robust defence against email spoofing and phishing attempts, safeguarding both your brand and your clients.
  4. Data-Driven Insights: DMARC, in particular, provides valuable reporting insights. By monitoring authentication results, your web agency gains visibility into email delivery performance and can fine-tune strategies for optimal results.

Conclusion: Elevating Your Email Game

Don’t end up in the junk pile! In the realm of email deliverability, SPF, DMARC and DKIM serve as the guardians of your digital communication. By adopting these protocols, you not only enhance the chances of your emails reaching the right audience but also fortifies you against potential security threats. Embrace the power of authentication, and watch your emails sail smoothly into the inboxes of your clients and prospects.

Ready to fortify your email strategy? Contact us to ensure your emails not only deliver but also make a lasting impact.

About the Author: Dan is an award-winning designer and WordPress developer with a passion for creativity, an eye for aesthetics and nearly two decades of experience working with renowned bands, iconic brands, and prestigious record labels from every corner of the globe.