Trust is the biggest success for email marketing because it is the only sought after digital marketing that reaches 4.258 billion people every day. Unlike other forms of marketing, email marketers have the privilege of obtaining user consent to send marketing messages, and users expect such messages. Having said that, email authentication is a fundamental part of email marketing that each of us should know in detail. New marketers in particular focus heavily on custom email templates and email workflow automation, but these important areas often lack proper attention. This is a mini-guide that you can bookmark as a novice to learn about email authentication or turn off your skills if you are a master of the craft. Let’s get started:
Basics: What is Email Authentication?
To understand the concept of email authentication, you first need to understand a basic aspect of POV from inbox providers. All mailbox providers only want to show messages from trusted marketers who they believe are not going to scam users and are sending the requested messages in nature. As a first line of defense, you need to provide some kind of validation marker and that’s where email authentication comes into the picture. Simply put, this is a verification of your online identity in terms of your IP address and the sender’s reputation. Depending on your authentication status, your message is sent to the initial tab of the receipt inbox or to their spam folder.
Why email authentication is so important
If a significant number of your messages land in your customers’ spam folders, you may experience a decrease in your email delivery rate. This is because mailbox providers begin to treat you as a suspicious sender, and in order to protect their users, your messages will be marked as spam. This can be a huge blow to your email marketing efforts because not only will you miss out on reaching your customers, but in the end, your entire mailing list will start to get worse.
How to authenticate your email
Despite the high importance of email authentication, it’s not rocket science – in fact, it’s very simple. All you have to do is register yourself in a few records to verify your identity as a sender and secure your email marketing efforts.
Although there are multiple authentication methods, we will focus on the three most important ones to help make the process easier for you. Let’s get started:
SPF – Sender Policy Framework
SPF is a simple TXT file where the owner specifies a list of authorized IP addresses to send email from their domain. When your message is sent, a server runs a DNS lookup of the return-path address or the address of the sender of the envelope for record matches the authorized addresses. This is a bare minimum because most email marketers follow SPF without fail, making it an industry standard.
DKIM – DomainKeys Identified Mail
Simply put, DKIM is a digital signature, a public key added to your DNS, which is encoded at the moment you send the message and is decoded just before it arrives in your customers’ inbox. Its content includes hashed details such as the body of the email and its header, and once you open the email, the hash is re-created to confirm the authenticity of the message.
DMARC – Domain-based message authentication, reporting and confirmation
To enable DMARC, you must first complete SKF or DKIM authentication, or specifically both. It serves as an additional layer of authentication that focuses on domain alignment in a “relaxed” or “rigid” format. You can choose the part of your messages that go through this test because they give you forensic insights into the deliverability of your messages.
BIMI – Brand indicator for message identification
This is a rather new authentic setting standard that sits on top of your DMARC authentication. While this may not be considered necessary or mandatory, it does help you increase your email opening rate and overall loyalty.
For BIMI authentication, you need to create a BIMI logo that is no larger than 32kb in size and save it as an SVG file. Next, you must create a BIMI DNS record and publish it to the DNS of your transmitting domain.
Authentication of your IP address on their respective websites helps you ensure the delivery of your messages and your email marketing does not suffer any stagnation for the same reason.
Reverse DNS Lookup is another authentication method that you can explore, but the four email authentication methods mentioned above are essential for any email marketing. As discussed earlier, they play an important role in ensuring your long term best interests in email marketing.
That being said, it should be noted that SPF and DKIM are the minimum requirements for email marketers, but they can be opted for BIMI, reverse DNS lookup and DMARC because they do not have a wide acceptance ratio. However, this should not be confused with the lack of facilities, as they certainly add to the ability of your emails to perform well.
Throughout the article, we have focused on the basics, requirements, and the process of email authentication, but one more thing needs to be mentioned. Much like SEO, for email marketing you need to have general knowledge at work. Using custom email templates or mastering multilevel nested workflows – doing all the little things right. I hope this mini-guide will help you understand email authentication to enhance your future endeavors.
Author: Kevin George is head of marketing at Email Appeller, which specializes in creating professional email templates, email conversions from PSD, and Melchimp templates. Kevin loved gadgets, bikes and jazz and he took a breath at email marketing. She enjoys sharing her insights and thoughts on the best practices of email marketing on her email marketing blog.