Emails are the best tools at your disposal to keep open lines of communication with your clients, vendors, and business partners. They’re also great for promoting your brand to new people and letting others know about your line of services or products. Unfortunately, emails are the driving force behind some of the worst cyberattacks, such as spam, phishing, viruses, malware, etc.
To sort out the problem, some of the biggest names in tech created DMARC, a system that authenticates your emails so your messages can go straight to your recipient’s inbox. DMARC and its policies have shifted the attention to cyber security. Most of the attention is focused on the ability to deliver emails versus the deliverability capabilities of most messages.
In the following lines, we discuss the differences between delivery and deliverability while learning what DMARC is and its role in modern email campaigns.
What is Email Deliverability?
Email deliverability is the inbox placement of any message you send. It’s a principle that determines if your email reaches your recipient’s inbox or if it’s tagged as spam and redirected to another folder offered by the inbox provider. The whole spectrum of deliverability has a refined approach to the reception of emails beyond the simple act of delivering a message.
We’re focusing on some of the most technical aspects of deliverability right now. But there’s more factoring in the ability to send a successful email. Older domains usually get a lot more leverage. Emails with great content also get an easy pass. There’s also the number of inbound links and their quality. Last is the number of interactions based on users who opt-in to get your messages.
There are a lot of companies out there depending on accurate email deliverability. It’s the core of their business. The ability to achieve a 100% deliverability rate falls upon authentication protocols. Internet service providers and inbox filters offer an easy pass to any email compliant with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Knowing about these protocols pays off in the long run for your company.
Delivery vs. Deliverability
Before we get ahead with concepts related to email authentication, it’s essential to make a clear distinction. While delivery and deliverability may sound similar, they’re distinct. Email delivery means your message has been sent from one endpoint and accepted by another. If you send an email from your domain, the ISP receives it, and that’s it. Delivery doesn’t guarantee the message landing in your recipient’s inbox.
Deliverability is way more complex. It determines if your message goes straight to the inbox of your receipts. Deliverability has to deal with inbox configurations that mark messages as spam. It also deals with the regular filters set in place by most ISPs to get rid of malicious messages. When you have DMARC policies in place for your emails, the protocol instructs the ISP to handle your messages according to your configuration of choice.
What is DMARC?
DMARC is short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance. It’s a protocol that determines if you send your messages or if someone is appropriating your identity. The mechanism is designed to protect your company email from being spoofed and used to send phishing scams and other forms of malware.
As a unique security policy, DMARC relies heavily on the proper deployment of SPF and DKIM. These are security protocols checking your domain alignment and attaching digital signatures to all your messages to confirm your identity as a sender. DMARC also generates reports about how all your messages are handled. These can be analyzed to ensure your email strategy hits the target while giving you complete visibility of your domain’s behavior.
Why is DMARC Important for Deliverability?
You’re bound to find people telling DMARC has no impact on deliverability; this is simply not true. Some specialists think it has a mild effect, while others tell you it improves your rates of successful deliveries to a 100%. Such a definitive statement is not a hard fact either. The truth lies in between. The fact is that DMARC records instruct ISP to handle emails failing the authentication protocols in concrete ways, but it remains on the ISP side to take definitive action.
DMARC plays the compliance game on all ends and makes sure all involved parties play by the same rules. ISPs are not obligated to take action based on DMARC authentication, but they should comply with IETF and RFC regulations. They also need to be seen as responsible players in keeping safe ecosystems for anyone receiving emails. This does have a significant effect on large markets like North America and Europe, where increasing regulations state the norms for these service providers.
How to Layer Email Authentication Protocols?
The best way to layer your email authentication protocols is to ensure your company’s email address is compliant with DMARC policies. You can get DMARC up and running as long as you correctly set up SPF and DKIM. These three policies provide senders and receipts with robust rules to authenticate messages. Here’s how these two policies work on their own:
Also known as Sender Policy Framework, these records are the first layer of email authentication. SPF policies provide a list of IP addresses to ISP stating the domains allowed to send messages from a specific email address. This is the most basic form of authentication, but it doesn’t protect email content.
SPF improves deliverability with each record created for a specific domain since these indicate the addresses authorized to send messages on behalf of said domain. It’s a great way to support spam filters and help them catch spoofed messages. SPF has to include your subdomains as well. Otherwise, any message sent from alternative addresses is marked as spam, negatively impacting your deliverability rates.
This policy is also known as DomainKeys Identified Mail. DKIM works as a public encrypted key that determines if the emails sent from your domain are good to go or if they have been forged or altered in transit. It works like a digital signature to protect senders and email recipients from fraudulent messages.
This is how DKIM works: when an email is sent, the ISP of the receipt checks the signature against a public DNS key. In a process that takes fractions of a second, the ISP decrypts the message’s hash value and makes sure it matches the public key published on their DNS. DKIM improves deliverability because once the key match is confirmed, the system sends the email to the inbox of your receipts. This is an indication the message has been validated.
Once you set up SPF and DKIM, DMARC lets you fully control your deliverability rate. Your email infrastructure is aligned with email providers’ strongest filters set in place. Your reputation as a sender can improve since a high rate of your messages are validated as genuine. With a DMARC policy in place, you can instruct your recipients what to do with your messages if they don’t pass the authentication.
Every email you send under DMARC protocols generates a series of reports for you to monitor the senders. Aggregate and forensic reports can let you know how to reformulate your strategy based on DMARC’s tags (none, quarantine, reject). That way, you can improve deliverability while protecting your company and clients from phishing, spoofing, and other scams.
Email deliverability is not an exact science. However, there are many tools at your disposal. All of them can help improve the chances of your messages in the inbox of your recipients. DMARC is probably the best protocol to help you achieve higher deliverability rates. The policy works with SPF and DKIM to ensure your messages are validated and authenticated.
DMARC not only works as a deliverability tool, but it’s also a solid security protocol that offers peace of mind to senders. It prevents spamming, spoofing, and other cyberattacks that could affect your business. If you don’t have DMARC records yet, make sure to visit EasyDMARC and check the status of your domain with the free tools they offer on their website.