Trust is the biggest success factor for email marketing as it is the only form of solicited digital marketing that reaches over 4.258 billion people every day. Unlike other forms of marketing, email marketers have the privilege of getting users’ consent to being sent marketing messages, and users expect such messages. With that being said, email authentication is a fundamental part of email marketing that every one of us should know in detail. Especially new marketers focus extensively on custom email templates and email workflow automation, but this important area often lacks appropriate attention. This is a mini-guide that you can bookmark to learn about email authentication as a newbie or brush off your skills if you’re a master of the craft. Let’s get started:
Basics: What Is Email Authentication
To understand the concept of email authentication, you must first understand one basic aspect from inbox providers’ POV. All mailbox providers intend to show messages only from trustworthy marketers that they believe are not going to scam the users and are sending messages that are solicited in nature. As the first line of defense, you need to provide some sort of legitimacy-indicating markers, and that’s where email authentication comes into the picture. Put simply, it is a verification of your online identity in terms of your IP address and sender reputation at large. Depending on your authentication status, your message is sent to the primary tab of receipts’ inbox or to their spam folder.
Why Is Email Authentication So Important
If a significant number of your messages land in the spam folders of your subscribers, you might witness a fall in your email delivery rates. This is due to the fact that mailbox providers start considering you as a suspicious sender, and in order to save their users, your messages would get marked as spam. It can be a huge setback for your email marketing efforts as you would not only miss out on reaching out to your subscribers, but eventually, your entire mailing list will start to deteriorate.
How To Authenticate Your Emails
Despite the high importance of email authentication, it isn’t rocket science- in fact, it’s very simple. All you need to do is to register yourself on a few records to verify your identity as a sender and safeguard your email marketing efforts.
While there are multiple authentication methods, we will focus on three of the most important ones to help simplify the process for you. Let’s get started:
SPF – Sender Policy Framework
SPF is a simple TXT file in which the owner specifies the list of IP addresses authorized to send emails from their domain. When your message is sent, a server runs a DNS lookup of the return-path address or the envelope sender address for the records to match them against authorized addresses. It is a bare minimum since most email marketers follow SPF without fail, making it an industry standard.
DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail
In simple words, DKIM is a digital signature, a public key added to your DNS, which is encoded at the moment you send the message and decoded just before it lands in the inbox of your subscribers. Its contents include hashed details such as the email body and its header, and once you open the email, rehashes are created to confirm the authenticity of the message.
DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance
To enable DMARC, you must first complete SKF or DKIM authentication or preferably both. It acts as an additional layer of authentication that focuses on domain alignment in a “relaxed” or “strict” format. You may choose the portion of your messages that undergo these tests as they give you forensic insights into your messages’ deliverability.
BIMI – Brand Indicators for Message Identification
It is a rather new authentic setting standard that sits on top of your DMARC authentication. While it cannot be considered necessary or mandatory, it does help you with increasing your email open rates and overall trustworthiness.
For BIMI authentication, you need to create a BIMI logo that is not larger than 32kb in size and save it in the form of an SVG file. Next, you must create a BIMI DNS record and publish it on your transmitting domain’s DNS.
Authenticating your IP address on their respective websites helps you ensure the delivery of your messages and that your email marketing doesn’t suffer any stalling due to the same.
Reverse DNS lookup is another authentication method that you can explore, but the four email authentication methods mentioned above are a must for any email marketer. As discussed earlier, they play a crucial role in ensuring your long-term best interests in email marketing.
With this being said, it is necessary to understand that SPF and DKIM are the bare minimum requirements for email marketers, but they can be picky when it comes to BIMI, Reverse DNS lookup, and DMARC as they don’t have a broad acceptance ratio. However, this shouldn’t be confused with a lack of benefits, as they surely add to your emails’ ability to perform well.
Throughout the article, we focused on the basics, needs, and the process of email authentication, but there’s one more point to be noted. Much like SEO, email marketing requires you to put common sense at work. Using custom email templates or mastering multilevel nested workflows- is about doing all the little things right. I hope that this mini-guide helps you understand email authentication for upping your future endeavors.
Author: Kevin George is the head of marketing at Email Uplers, which specializes in crafting Professional Email Templates, PSD to Email Conversion, and Mailchimp Templates. Kevin loves gadgets, bikes & jazz, and he breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his email marketing blog.