Improve Email Marketing with DMARC

Improve Email Marketing with DMARC

Email marketing is often touted as the channel with the best return on investment. It generates $42 for every $1 spent… but only if the email is actually delivered to inboxes and not marked as spam or rejected.

Many companies have been putting email security safeguards in place to help combat phishing, which is the main delivery method for malware of all types. One of the ways that certain security tools identify potential phishing emails is to see whether the IP address that is authorized to send the message is being used in the “from” line of the email.

A common phishing tactic is to put a legitimate company domain in the “from” line so the recipient will recognize the sender of the message as legitimate. But since the attacker is faking this, the IP address (internet address) they are actually sending the email from is not approved to send an email for that domain.

The tools companies use to check this are SPF (sender policy framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). These work together to double-check the sender’s domain against the approved IP address or addresses allowed to send mail for that domain. Messages that don’t match are typically rejected or sent to a spam folder.

How Your Marketing Messages Can Accidentally Get Flagged As Spam

If you are not using another mail protocol, called DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), your legitimate marketing messages can get flagged as spam or rejected altogether.

We’ll explain why first, then we’ll talk about what DMARC is and how it helps.

Many businesses will use a third-party mail service to send marketing emails, such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or Zendesk. These services enable easy list gathering and segmentation and take care of sending an entire list of emails out all at once.

However, the IP address of those services will not typically match the authorized IP addresses in your mail server record, unless you have specifically set this up. This means that your messages can be accidentally flagged as phishing because of the mismatch between the third-party mail service’s IP address and your domain.

How DMARC Improves Email Delivery

DMARC is a main security protocol that “speaks to” the email security that could be used in the systems of the recipients of your email messages. It says, “Hey, I know this is a third-party mail service sending this email for our domain, but it’s legitimate and you should allow it through.”

Of course, it does this in computer-speak and more technical terms. Here’s a breakdown of how DMARC can help your marketing efforts.

Using DMARC on your mail server does three important things:

  • It confirms that SPF and DKIM email authentication passes
  • It provides you with feedback about messages using your domain in the sender line of an email
  • It applies a policy, telling receiving email servers what to do with a message from your domain

Confirms SPF & DKIM

First, if SPF and DKIM protocols are being used on the mail server of one of your newsletter or marketing list members, using DMARC on your server will pass through the information you need so your mail isn’t rejected.

What you will do is set up that third-party sender’s IP address (they will typically provide you with this) in your mail record. This is a bit technical, so the C Solutions Team can absolutely help you do this.

What you’re doing is saying that this third-part service (Mailchimp, etc.) IS authorized to send email for your domain. With that verification in place, both SPF and DKIM security protocols should allow the message to pass their security checks.

Provides Feedback on Messages

Unfortunately, any company can have its email address spoofed. A hacker doesn’t even have to breach anything, they can simply grab your company domain that they find in your website address and put that in the “from” of an email message sent to other companies in your area or your employees.

DMARC gives you a heads up about this. It will provide you with feedback on any messages sent on your domain and whether they have been rejected or delivered. If you begin seeing rejected messages, you may find that a phishing scammer is spoofing your domain, thus servers with mail security in place are rejecting them. Without DMARC, you may not even know this is happening.

Applies a Policy

The third main purpose of DMARC is to give instructions to the receiving mail server about what to do with a message. 

For example, the policy can state that if SPF and DKIM (those services looking for the domain and sending IP address match) pass, then deliver the message. If they don’t pass verification, then either reject the message or send it to a quarantine/junk folder. This is also where you can tell the server to send you a message about those failed deliveries. 

Don’t Waste Precious Marketing Dollars! Get Help Improving Email Delivery

C Solutions can help your Orlando area business review your current email server setup to ensure you’re not at risk of email delivery problems or phishing.

Schedule a free consultation today! Call 407-536-8381 or reach us online.