July 19, 2024

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The Easiest Way to Mess-up Email Deliverability

The Easiest Way to Mess-up Email Deliverability

For novice marketers, improving email deliverability refers to optimizing email subject lines, providing preference centers or email frequency options, and refining the opt-in process. While these efforts may seem like they’re getting your emails somewhere, these are just surface-level solutions.

If you really want to improve your email deliverability, you should start configuring your email domain.

Email domain configuration ensures your engaging content reaches your subscribers’ inboxes and stays away from their spam folders.

Email Domain Check: The Secret to Improving Email Deliverability

You may have read hundreds of ways to keep your emails out of the spam folder from other great articles. Still, no one’s really addressing the critical error thousands of companies are making right now, resulting in serious issues with their email reputation and deliverability.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered that most businesses don’t check their email domain. They settle with what they have and make no efforts to improve, even if it’s a significant factor in email deliverability.

1 in every 6 emails ends up in spam folders or remains undelivered. – Validity

The single most important way to improve email deliverability is properly configuring your email domain.

What is Domain Reputation?

Domain reputation is a metric that checks your website’s credibility and trustworthiness across search engines. Email service providers evaluate your domain reputation on a scale of 0 to 100, much like a credit score. Your score is based on the number and quality of links pointing to your domain.

When your website has good standing, it’s marked as trustworthy and safe. Emails from this domain will most likely avoid the spam folder and land straight in the recipient’s inbox.

As an email marketer, the spam folder is your enemy. To steer clear from getting marked as spam, you must improve your email domain reputation by configuring your email domain through email validation and email authentication.

While you can learn how to keep your emails out of the spam folder from hundreds of other great articles, no one’s really addressing the critical error that thousands of companies are making right now, resulting in serious issues with their email reputation and deliverability. 

The single most important way to improve email deliverability is properly configuring your email domain.

Are Your Email Domains Properly Configured? (How to Check Email Domain) 

Today around 80% of emails sent are using the top 3 email hosting providers:

  1. Gmail for Business (34% of global market share)
  2. Microsoft Exchange Online (30% of global market share)
  3. GoDaddy Email Hosting (16% of global market share)

All of these providers rely on the users to configure their email domain properly and the responsibility is always on the sender-side. It is not terribly difficult, but it often gets overlooked. 

Spam and spoofing are on the rise, and email hosting service providers are responding, so more emails are ending up in their recipients’ spam box. When this happens, not only is your company’s communication disrupted, but this can also impact your company’s brand and email marketing campaigns.

In 2022, we noticed our Google Workspace spam detection was filtering more and more incoming emails.  In each case, we checked the domain and it failed Google’s Check MX tool. 

As a concern for our clients, regardless of service, we started auditing all of their email domains. Based on the alarming results, we now audit this for every new client we onboard

Google’s Check MX Tool Results of Over 100 Clients

How can you properly configure your email domain? Well, there are two key methods: 

  1. Email Domain Validation
  2. Email Domain Authentication

What is Email Domain Validation?

Email domain validation is the verification procedure of an email address, whether real or fake. It also checks if it has a reliable domain like Yahoo or Gmail. The process goes beyond a simple syntax check. It delves into checking a domain’s mail exchange (MX) record.

Email domain validation ensures your emails aren’t flagged as spam. When an email server receives too many messages from your unverified domain, it can automatically report your domain as a potential spamming source. Racking up multiple spam suspicion reports can get your mail server blocked or tagged by spam filters.  

Email Domain Validation Test with Google’s Check MX Tool

The Check MX Google Admin Toolbox can help you check for problems with the configuration of your domain. Some points the tool checks are:

  • Domain should have at least 2 NS servers
  • Naked domain must be an A record (not CNAME)
  • SPF must allow Google servers to send mail on behalf of your domain
  • MX lookup must fit in one UDP response packet

If a problem pops up, you can troubleshoot your MX records. Here are a few ways to quickly fix common issues.

  • Check the MX records applied to your primary domain.
  1. With the administrator account, open the Google Admin console
  2. Go to Apps > Google Workspace > Gmail
  3. Select Setup
  4. On the left, choose your primary domain
  5. Under MX Records, check the records of your primary domain. It should look like the image below.
  1. If they don’t look like the image, Google has host-specific instructions to guide you. 
  2. If you have problems sending or receiving emails, you can add a period at the end of your MX records—for example, ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 
  • Check your MX records using G Suite Toolbox Dig.
  1. Access Google’s MX lookup tool
  2. Enter your domain name without the www. on the Name box
  3. Select MX to see your domain’s MX record report
  4. Your records should match the table below. If not, follow Google’s host-specific instructions.
  • Wait 72 hours for the changes to reflect. The changes to MX records may just take time to go into effect.
Source: Google
  • Try adding or removing the @ sign. Depending on your domain host, they may require you to add the @ symbol in the Name, Host, or Alias column of your Domain Name System (DNS) records or leave it blank. After incorporating the changes, wait 72 hours to check the records and see if it helped. 

What is Email Authentication?

Email authentication is a solution using multiple technical methods to verify that a message isn’t forged. With 70% of global emails classified as malicious, email authentication prevents spoofing, phishing scams, and other instances wherein an email appears legitimate but is actually from a malicious third party.

Some popular email authentication implementations are SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. They supplement the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the basic protocol used to send emails since it doesn’t have any authentication mechanisms. 

Email Domain Authentication Test with MX Toolbox’s SuperTool

How can you set up your email authentication? You can first check the DNS record of your domain by using MX Toolbox’s SuperTool. Add your email domain to the search bar to look for errors. Solutions are available for any issues, depending on your chosen platform. If you want to know how to fix a failed email authentication attempt, the tool has got you covered.

If you’re using Google, it checks across the three email security controls, namely:

  • SPF – Identifies the servers and domains authorized to send an email on behalf of your organization.
  • DKIM – Adds a digital signature to outgoing messages, letting receiving servers verify that the email was from your organization.
  • DMARC – Tells receiving servers what they want to do with outgoing messages from your organization if they aren’t SPF or DKIM.

Each email standard has ways to troubleshoot issues.

How to Set Up SPF Authentication

  1. Verify your SPF record
  2. Check that emails pass SPF authentication
  3. Ensure your SPF record includes all email senders
  4. Review your email sending practices

How to Set Up DKIM Authentication

  1. Verify that your DKIM is set up correctly
  2. Confirm that messages pass DKIM authentication
  3. Check email forwarding
  4. Get in touch with the admin for servers that reject DKIM-authenticated messages
  5. Inspect your domain provider’s TXT record character limits
  6. Review your email sending practices

How to Set Up DMARC Authentication

  1. Verify that messages pass authentication
  2. Review your email sending practices
  3. Get more information with the Email Log Search

Other Free Domain Reputation Checkers

You can use many other free online domain reputation checkers to monitor and track your domain.

You can assess your domain and IP reputation with the Google Postmaster Tool (GPT). Using this tool, you can look into your reputation grade, encrypted traffic, and spam rate. If your subscribers are mostly Gmail users, you can get the most out of the tool’s extensive report as it specifically tracks your domain among Gmail users.

Provided by Cisco, Talos Intelligence is a comprehensive tool that integrates your domain reputation with messages sent over different IP addresses. With this tool, you can easily spot issues that pose a deliverability risk. Just enter your IP or domain to access real-time threat data.

A third-party filtering software, Barracuda holds a public database of IP addresses labeled as blacklisted, “risky,” and senders with good email practices. Enter your domain address to run through the tool’s record and identify your domain reputation score.

Send Emails That Reach Inboxes

Engaging content must reach your audience’s inboxes if you want to improve brand awareness or increase sales. Email deliverability and email marketing go hand in hand. You can’t just focus on one and expect your campaign to thrive. 

Aside from its role in marketing, email deliverability also plays a role in cybersecurity. With 90% of cyberattacks starting from emails, it’s important to properly configure your email domain to avoid spoofing and phishing scams. It may seem like a complicated and technical process, but it’s an investment worth making. Ignoring email domain configurations is setting your business up for failure. 

Partner your email deliverability efforts with a smart email marketing strategy to promote your business and drive sales success. A digital marketing agency like Spiralytics can help you bring these two elements together.

Contact us today to learn more!

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