Properly configured email authentication is the first step to improving deliverability and open rates.
An SPF record defines which IP addresses are allowed to send email from your domain. Answer the questions to generate an SPF record.
Now let's setup your SPF record by creating a TXT record for your domain. Below are general step-by-step instructions on how to add a TXT record. The process will be similar for most domain registrar companies and hosting providers with some small differences.
Below is an example SPF record to guide you.
If these instructions are not helpful, select instructions for some of the most popular domain registrars and hosting providers.
Email providers use DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to detect forged sender addresses in email (email spoofing), a technique often used in phishing and email spam. Emails that fail authentication are more likely to arrive in the spam or junkmail folder. Follow instructions below to obtain your DKIM Key and add a DKIM record to your DNS records.
Your DKIM Key can be obtained through your hosting control panel. Locating it depends on the type of control panel used by your hosting provider. Select the control panel type below for instructions.
If you see the following warning message displayed: This system does not control DNS for this domain, you'll need to manually create the DKIM record with your domain registrar.
If your hosting provider controls DNS for your domain check if the DKIM record was successfully added to your DNS.
If your hosting provider doesn't manage DNS for your domain, you will need to copy and paste the contents of the DKIM record and manually create a new DKIM record with your domain registrar.
If your hosting provider controls DNS for your domain, check if the DKIM record was successfully added to your DNS.
If your hosting provider doesn't manage DNS for your domain, you will need to copy and paste the contents of the DKIM record and manually create a new DKIM record with your domain registrar.
Similar to SPF records, DKIM records are created by adding a TXT record to your DNS records. Since you now have experience adding a TXT record you should already know what to do. Below is an example DKIM record to guide you.
If you send email through an email marketing platform or email delivery provider; you need to setup DKIM records for them as well.
Don't see your platform or provider in the dropdown? Send us a message so we can add it to the list.
Once your DKIM records are setup, use our DKIM checker tool to verify if a DKIM record is present for your domain, or if CNAME records are present to authenticate sending email from your marketing platform or delivery provider.
DMARC records allow senders to indicate their emails are protected by SPF and/or DKIM, and give instruction if neither of those authentication methods passes. Please be sure you have SPF and DKIM records setup before using DMARC. Becoming DMARC compliant involves more than just adding a TXT record to your DNS records. It's a process that can take several weeks to months, depending on your sending volume, email marketing platform or email delivery provider who send email on your behalf.
DMARC compliance will prevent malicious actors from abusing your domain reputation which can in turn impact your deliverability. This is what a typical DMARC compliance process looks like:
The goal of becoming DMARC complaint is to eventually enforce a policy of p=reject. Setting a reject policy will ensure that all malicious email is stopped. The recipient of the intended malicious email will never become aware of the email in the first place, as it will never get sent to a spam or quarantine folder. Since it's completely blocked, emails are never delivered and end-users cannot be tricked into clicking on a malicious link or opening a dangerous attachment.
The downside is if legitimate emails are failing authentication and emails get rejected, the receiver will never know they are not receiving the intended email. For organizations not actively using a reporting system to monitor authentication, it could take months to discover that legitimate email is not being delivered, potentially hurting marketing programs or other opportunities to engage with prospects, customers and partners. This is why it's important to take DMARC compliance step-by-step, use a monitoring service and incrementally enforce a stricter DMARC policy.
Before creating your DMARC record start by choosing a monitoring service to process reports and monitor DMARC compliance.
|Postmark||Free or $10/month||https://dmarc.postmarkapp.com/|
|Dmarcian||Free up to 2 domains or $24/m||https://dmarcian.com/pricing/|
|Dmarcly||Basic plan $17.99/month||https://dmarcly.com/pricing|
|Powerdmarc||Free or $8/month||https://powerdmarc.com/power-dmarc-pricing-policy/|
Answer the questions below to generate a DMARC record for your domain.
Similar to SPF and DKIM, DMARC records are created by adding a TXT record to your DNS records. Since you now have experience adding a TXT record you should already know what to do. Below is an example DMARC record to guide you.
A reverse DNS lookup takes an IP address and attempts to locate a DNS pointer (PTR) record for that IP address. Email providers check if an email came from a valid server before bringing it onto their network and will reject emails from any server that does not return a valid PTR record. This is generally not something you need to worry about since your hosting provider or email marketing platform will manage this for you, but PTR records provide a level of security and verification and are an important component of email deliverability. Use our reverse DNS lookup tool to check if your IP address has a published PTR record.
If the result of the reverse lookup reveals you don't have a PTR record, you'll have to create one yourself. If that is the case; use the tool below to generate a PTR record and add it to the DNS records managed with your hosting provider (PTR records need to be added at the IP address provider level which is usually your hosting provider).
Finally, contact your hosting provider to setup the PTR record.
Set up the technical infrastructure to ensure the smooth delivery of emails to your customers inbox.
Email Marketing Platforms help their users send emails to their subscribers or sales prospects, and Email Delivery Providers help their users send transactional emails to their customers. Email Marketing Platforms can be subcategorized into Inbound and Outbound. It's important to use the correct tool as they cannot all be used for the same type of email, and could result in being banned if you misuse their services.
Welcome message, sales receipt, comment notification or account verification
Amazon SES, Postmark, Mailgun, Mailjet, SendGrid
Newsletters or emails where users requested information (filled out a single or double opt-in form)
|Marketing Automation Software
ActiveCampaign, Sendinblue, Hubspot, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Campaign Monitor, Klaviyo, Drip, Bento
Sales or unsolicited emails (cold emails)
|Sales Outreach Software
Lemlist, Reply.io, Outreach.io, MailShake, SmartReach
If you're sending marketing emails choose a platform with ability to schedule batched emails. Depending on the number of contacts you have in your list, slowly drip out the emails over a duration of hours or days instead of sending them all at once, example from MailChimp below.
The reputation of the IP address, domain, and email address all play a role in getting emails into your customer's inbox rather than the spam folder. Or, in the case of Google, in the Promotions tab. Email providers know customers want and expect transactional emails, but it's not always easy for them to tell what's transactional and what's better classified as marketing emails.
Using a separate email address, subdomain and IP address for each type of mail makes it much more likely that your important emails will get to your customers, and will prevent normal correspondance or transactional emails from being negatively impacted by marketing email campaigns that accidentally lead to a negative domain or IP reputation.
How do you know when a recipient has marked your email as spam? What can you do about it? If you set up feedback loops, email providers will notify you when a recipient has marked one of your emails as spam. You'll need to set up separate feedback loops for all the email providers you send to. Below are links to signup to feedback loops for the most popular email providers.
|Postmaster Tools by Gmail||https://www.gmail.com/postmaster/|
|Microsoft Junk Mail Reporting Program
(includes Outlook.com, Live.com, Msn.com & Hotmail.com)
|Yahoo Mail Complaint Feedback Loop||https://io.help.yahoo.com/contact/|
|List of other Feedback Loops||https://glockapps.com/isp-feedback-loops/|
Custom tracking domains are important if you use an email marketing platform to send emails. Instead of using your email marketing platform's domain to track actions (opens, link clicks & unsubscribers), custom tracking domains use your domain to track actions and isolate your reputation from other users who use the same provider.
For example, if a spammer uses MailChimp, and the spammer's emails contain the default MailChimp tracking domain, and this causes the default tracking domain to be listed by a domain-based spam blacklist, and if your emails contain the same tracking domain, the deliverability of your emails could be affected.
Creating a custom tracking domain involves adding a CNAME record to your DNS records. Most email marketing platforms will give you the ability to create a custom tracking domain and will provide step-by-step instructions.
And here's an example CNAME record for MailShake.
Email deliverability is closely connected to sender reputation. If your behavior is in accordance with the general rules and you have proper authentication and infrastructure, your sender reputation will be high and your deliverability will thrive.
Check your domain and IP address against known spam blacklists to see if you've been blacklisted. If you are; request to be delisted. If you're using an email delivery provider be sure to check the outbound sending IP addresses assigned to your account.
Talos Reputation Center generates a reputation score grouped into Good, Neutral and Poor. You should aim for an Email Reputation score of Neutral or Good.
Barracuda Central maintains a history of IP addresses for both known spammers as well as senders with good email practices.
Sender Score is a free email reputation evaluation service from Validity. It provides an indication of the trustworthiness of an email sender's IP address.
Warm up the sending IP addresses tied to your domain with the objective of building good IP & domain reputation with email providers. If you just migrated to a new email marketing platform, email delivery provider or you purchased a new dedicted IP address, you need to start with low volume and increase the sending rate gradually over time (some email marketing platforms offer automatic warmup services for an additional fee). Below is an example 12 week exponential warmup strategy to achieve a final send rate of 20,000 emails per hour. Combining this with scheduled batch delivery is how you achieve great deliverability and high open rates.
|Week 1||119 per hour|
|Week 2||200 per hour|
|Week 3||250 per hour|
|Week 4||333 per hour|
|Week 5||400 per hour|
|Week 6||500 per hour|
|Week 7||667 per hour|
|Week 8||1,000 per hour|
|Week 9||1,333 per hour|
|Week 10||2,000 per hour|
|Week 11||4,000 per hour|
|Week 12||20,000 per hour|
Use healthy list hygiene practices to keep your list clean and ensure your marketing emails are delivered and opened.
Sending emails to address that bounce will harm your sender score and reputation with email providers, which is why it's important to validate your contacts. If you acquired contacts through a double opt-in method you don't need to validate them as they have already been verified through the double opt-in confirmation process (double opt-in is when a user has to confirm their email address after filling out a form or subscribing to your newsletter). An email validation service will filter out fake, disposable, catch-all and spam trap email addresses. You can do a quick Google search for email list validation to find companies offering this service. Some email marketing platforms will do this for you automatically when you import your list, or offer this service for an additional fee.
Don't send marketing emails to role or general email addresses, instead send to personal or business email addresses of individuals.
Spam traps are email addresses used by email providers and blocklist operators to identify senders who aren't following email best practices. There are two types of spam traps:
|Pristine||These spam traps are email addresses that have never been valid and couldn't even opt into receiving email. They are available on public websites but hidden within the site's code. The purpose of pristine traps is to identify email marketers who use poor list building practices such as scraping sites for emails or purchasing contact lists.|
|Recycled||These spam traps were once valid email addresses but have since been repurposed by their provider. Someone could have used this address to opt in at one time, but the address has since been abandoned. Recycled spam traps might be on your sending list if: 1) Your list is more than one year old. 2) You don't email your list frequently or 3) There are mistyped or invalid addresses on your list.|
The impact of spam traps varies depending on the type. Hitting a pristine spam trap is more severe than hitting a recycled trap. If you've emailed a pristine spam trap, your domain or sending IP address could be immediately blocklisted. If you send email to recycled spam traps regularly, you could start to see your emails being routed to the junk folder. To avoid spam traps, regularly clean up your contact lists.
Sending high-quality content that follows best practices will increase sender reputation and boost deliverability.
The majority of email providers don't support every type of HTML content you see on the web. Web browsers are able to display scripts, animations, and complex navigation menus, while your typical email inbox isn't built to handle this type of content. If you're sending outbound email marketing campaigns (cold emails) we recommend creating very simple email content with links only. If you're sending inbound marketing campaigns (newsletters) you can get a little more creative, but don't use complex HTML.
|Safe to use||Static or table-based layouts, HTML tables & nested tables, template width of 600px-800px or simple, inline CSS|
When including links to images or sites in your email body, only use secure HTTPS links. If you link to images or sites without secure links, emails could be considered insecure by email providers and blocked or sent to the junkmail folder.
Signatures featuring your logo and links to social media is fine for regular correspondance but not for transactional email or marketing email campaigns. Keep it simple with a few lines inluding your name, position title, company and link to your website. You want to keep the number of links in your email body to a minimum. In order to comply with anti-spam laws, you'll also need to include a opt-out or unsubscribe link beneath your signature or at the bottom of your emails, as well as your physical or mailing address.
Never use spammy words in any portion of your emails. Below is a list of words in either your subject line or body that will trigger spam filters. If any of your emails require the usage of any of these terms (like when running a promotion), try to use synonyms. Spam filters have become much more sophisticated in recent years and using one or two phrases won’t hurt you so long as you use email marketing best practices and use spam trigger words within context.
This is a common practice by spammers and is sure to trigger spam filters and land your emails in the junkmail folder. Write simple, easy to read subject lines in lowercase letters.
|Spammy subject line||CELEBRATE MOTHERS DAY WITH FREE FLOWERS!|
|Good subject line||Joe, celebrate mothers day with these beautiful flowers|
While it's good for deliverability reasons to use a "From" address that invites recipients to contact you, you may want responses to go to a different address. If you have a large subscriber list you could end up receiving tens of thousands of out-of-office emails that you'd prefer to go somewhere other than your main email address. Most email marketing platforms will give you the ability to set a different email address for replies when sending a campaign.
Using alt tags for images included in your emails is important for accessbility, user experience and getting your emails past the spam filter. They provide a textual alternative to your images, and a useful fallback for people who are blind, visually impaired or when your images cannot be displayed. Here's an example alt tag being used in an image.
<img src="flowers-for-mothers-day.jpg" alt="Flowers for Mothers Day" />
Now that you're properly setup and sending emails, maintain your good sender reputation to profit from high deliverability and open rates.
SPF specifies which servers and domains are authorized to send email on behalf of your organization.Generate SPF
DMARC instructs receiving servers what to do with emails from your organization that don't pass SPF or DKIM.Generate DMARC
Check if a DKIM record is present for your domain, or if CNAME records are present to authenticate sending email from your marketing platform or delivery provider.Check DKIM
Perform a reverse DNS lookup to check if your IP address has a properly configured PTR record and generate a PTR record if needed.IN PROGRESS
Check top-level domain (TLD) spam score with Spamhaus (.com, .net, .org, .io, .app, .ai, etc).Check TLD
Check domain and IP address reputation with Talos Intelligence Reputation Center.Check Reputation
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