Using DKIM & SPF Records, and Mandrill to Improve Email Deliverability

 Email Marketing is a good investment for companies and a laborious strategy for marketing teams. It surely does pay off with targeted audience in hand, better and more personal connection to them, easily measured performance, and a lot more opportunities coming in the way. However, there are small, unnoticed, and often missed settings that cause for your email to be unsuccessfully sent to the customers. And today, we will go into these details to make sure that your deliverability rate is properly optimized and your email goes straight to the customer’s inbox without a flaw.

This is the first episode of the Email Marketing Perfection webinar series as it’s practically the most important in launching an email marketing. There is no point of having a great your editorial content, graphic design, and copy of the email message if it doesn’t reach the inbox of your recipient. Here is John Buie talking about this topic in the Email Marketing Perfection webinar:



Before going into the details of ensuring higher deliverability for your email marketing, we would like to emphasize that this subject also aims to protect your domain and your brand’s reputation. Instances of stolen logins and passwords from systems in small, medium or even large companies are still going on. These are being sold on black markets to spammers for various reasons like political issues or even just because the company is an easy target like JP Morgan Chase. Most of the time these are done through automated bots who look for vulnerabilities and take advantage on domain, server, and mail server. Hopefully your mail provider is doing a good job on filtering fake customer emails that ask for password reset or phish for credit card information.

The danger is that your domain can end up on Real-Time Blacklist (RBL). This happens if your DNS is found susceptible and emails are sent from your domain without your knowledge or intention that causes to spam the recipients. To be included in RBL means that none of your future emails will get through to anyone.

 

Leave it to the Experts.

We'd be glad to guarantee the deliverability of your emails. Drop us a message once you're ready to get started.


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Listed below are the areas that we review and tweak to avoid our clients from being added in RBL and to optimize the deliverability rate of their email marketing campaign.

SPF Records

 










SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. It enables clients to reduce spam and fraud from malicious senders who disguise their identity. Making sure that your SPF Records are correctly set up solves issues of emails that do not go through the customer’s inbox and see a depth in the success rate of email marketing campaigns.


 

 









The tool that we use to review our client’s SPF Records is MXtoolbox.com which provides free, fast, and accurate network diagnostic. Here are the simple steps to check your SPF Records:

  1. Go to MXtoolbox.com and type in your domain.
  2. Click on MX Lookup button and when the page fully loads, select SPF Record Lookup from the MX Lookup button.
  3. In the results, you should see a green bar with text on top as this is your DNS Text Record Entry which includes your SPF. The tool gets this information from your DNS provider or where your domain is registered like GoDaddy and Network Solutions.

      

 

You will also notice multiple SPF records such as transactional email delivery systems. This is responsible for the emails you receive from us that come from our ERP system. In some cases, other email service providers like Mandrill is used to send these transactional messages. Spam protection should also be included in the results that is used in email marketing campaigns.

 

 

Then just scroll down the page to see if everything is working correctly. It will show you that the mail servers can view this information and if it’s in the right format.

At the beginning of our email marketing campaign, we send the directive to our client’s IT Department to include a certain SPF record that allows MailChimp, Constant Contact, Delivra or one of those email service providers to send on behalf of that brand’s domain. The IT administrator simply overwrites the original SPF record. This will daisy chain all of the different SPF Records together and solve the common mistake of “include” found in the Type column of the results.

DKIM Records

 










Stands for Domain Keys Identified Mail. It basically prevents your domain from being forged and used in phishing and spamming users. DKIM adds an answer or encryption key together with your email before it is sent, and the question key is sent to the receiver. For example, when you send an email to Pfizer, the encryption key for your encrypted email is being sent to the mail server of Pfizer and that is how your email will not be marked as spam.

Using MXtoolbox again, here are the easy steps on checking your DKIM Records:

  1. Enter your domain as we did in SPF Records above.
  2. Select DKIM Lookup from the MX Lookup drop-down button.
  3. In the results, you should receive the statement, “DKIM Selector is required”. This ensures that you’re good to go.

  

 

Mandrill

  








Mandrill is a transactional email platform for MailChimp users. We particularly use this platform because MailChimp is our favorite email marketing service provider. In Mandrill, we can easily see report of all our transactional emails that go through the customers as well as successful order confirmations.

 

Quick Exercise For You

Of course there is nothing more that you would want than having your customers to receive safe, credible, and trustworthy emails from you. To practice this, here are a few tests that you can easily perform to ensure the security of your email deliverability:

  1. Map out all of the servers that are sending an email on your behalf.
  2. Look at your CRM system as it probably sends emails to your customers without using an email sending service.
  3. Check your ERP system if it sends emails containing “Click here to track your order.” or “Your warranty is expiring.”
  4. Review your ecommerce website. We can do this if you’re already working with us and we are working on an email marketing service for you.
  5. Make a list of what you can get from the items above and forward it to your IT administrator for resolution.

 

 

We're here to improve your email deliverability!

Contact us today and we'll be happy to help you out with configuring your MX records and DNS entries.


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