DMARC’s Role in Email Marketing & Deliverability

Scams go all the way back to the days of handmade paper, ink and quill, and mail sent by messenger dove.

For instance, rewind 200 years to the ‘Spanish Prisoner’ scam, which today has morphed into the ‘Nigerian Prince’ email scam we are all familiar with.

You are no stranger to emails asking for your personal information, in exchange for some type of reward.

Now, it may seem like only the weak fall prey these days, but the fact is – email phishing scams account for billions of dollars lost every year, endless counts of identity theft, and serious cyber attacks against the worlds’ biggest corporations.

Even the most protected websites in the world are vulnerable to email spoofing; emails from spammers going to your contacts, with a forged senders’ address.

One example is the PayPal phishing scams you have likely seen before:

Scammers threaten to ‘shut down your account’ or even claim that your account has been hacked, prompting you to change your password.

In this instance, when a user believes this email is genuine, they unknowingly give their personal information to an email scammer who can do damaging things with their personal information.

So, what is being done to protect us?

A lot, actually.

3 Important Terms to Know When It Comes to Email Security

SPF

(Sender Policy Framework)

In easy to understand terms, SPF is an email authentication code that allows the owner of a web domain to specify which mail servers they use to send mail.

DKIM

(Domain Keys Identified Mail)

Another email authentication guideline, designed to detect forged sender addresses in emails.

DMARC

(Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance)

We’ll jump into this, in a sec.

Now, SPF and DKIM were the king and queen of safe email solutions for companies, but there was still a missing piece.

There was no way of monitoring the effectiveness of these initiatives. No feedback was available, and there was no ability to debug the issues.

Enter, DMARC. The proverbial cherry on top! The Bey to Destiny’s Child, if you will.

Again, let’s break down what DMARC stands for.

Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance.

When we read through this acronym carefully, it tells us that:

  • DMARC is concerned about the delivery of authentic email from your web domain.
  • DMARC wants to give you accurate reporting so that you know what’s happening with your domain at all times.
  • DMARC is focused on safety by making sure everyone obeys the rules.

With DMARC, everything that happens using your domain is transparent information. Its reporting feature lets you see who is trying to send messages from your domain.

DMARC lets your business publish an email policy, along with an authentication practice. These instructions are then given to receiving mail servers, which make it happen.

Rather than thinking of DMARC as a service on the cloud, think of it more like a standard or policy that your domain is upholding.

In a nutshell, DMARC is a rule that your business can publish online, to ensure that these email scammers cannot successfully deliver spam to your email list, by pretending to be you.

What DMARC Does Best:

  • DMARC lets you (the email sender) send more secure emails to your recipients.
  • DMARC protects you and your email contacts from spam, phishing, and spoofing.
  • DMARC makes the “from” address trustworthy again.
  • DMARC discourages cybercriminals in a big way.

The DMARC Flow

We are visual learners so let’s take a journey through the DMARC flow.

  1. You craft your email and hit send to your loyal contacts.
  2. Your mail server adds a DKIM header, which looks for forged sender addresses.
  3. DKIM confirms that you are legit.
  4. Your email heads on over to your recipients’ mail server.
  5. The recipients’ email server checks for authentication.
  6. Once given the okay, DMARC jumps in to decide if your email should be passed, quarantined, or rejected.
  7. If passed, your message arrives in your recipients’ inbox, to catch one final spam filter.

Phew! You made it!

Why DMARC Matters to Email Senders

IBM X-Force published a cybersecurity report showing that spam volumes rose a whopping 400% in 2016, which is what spurred the initial conversation surrounding business email security.

Maybe you’re thinking, okay I am not an enterprise level business so why does this matter to me?

Here are just a few compelling reasons why you should read onward:

  • DMARC helps you stay out of your recipients’ spam folder.
  • DMARC increases a customers’ confidence in your brand.
  • DMARC shows you when there are malicious attempts to use your domain.

DMARC Affects Your Email Deliverability

Very few KPIs matter more in email marketing, than your open rates. And, as you know, can only be sky high when your emails are being delivered to an inbox rather than being gobbled up by spambots.

DMARC makes sure that your emails are clearly authorized, avoiding the junk folder, and boosting your successful delivery rates. Open rates can only increase from there, right?

DMARC Builds Customer Confidence

If your domain is used in an email phishing attack, this will greatly affect your contacts’ view of your brand. Your contacts will become less confident in the security measures that you take, and the way that you protect their data. The last thing you want is for your business’ name to be attached to feelings of skepticism.

With DMARC protection, you can proudly let your customers know you have a secure email domain in place to protect them. #securityissexy

DMARC Stops Malicious Attacks on You

With DMARC, you can see everything going on around you. With the DMARC reporting feature, you know exactly who is trying to send from, or use your domain. Since you’ll immediately know about these malicious attempts, you can be way more proactive in blocking them.

How to Set Up DMARC

DMARC is pretty straightforward to set up; however, if you’re looking for some tech support, we have found a couple of super helpful and reliable resources for you to lean on.

The first is GlobalCyberAlliance.org who offers a free DMARC setup guide.

There is also DMARC.org, the O.G of DMARC. You can check out their library of resources which allows you to travel as far down the DMARC rabbit hole as your heart desires.

Fight Fraudulent Mail with Sendlane

There are many ways you can optimize messages for DMARC, ensuring that more of your carefully crafted email messages are landing in your contacts’ inbox.

The reputation of your emails affects their deliverability, so it’s important to keep a few factors in mind before punching that send button.

Send Email Consistently

When you send emails to your contacts, they come to expect your communication and are more likely to open your messages. Because of this, your email reputation begins to build. Overall, you will see a lower number of bounced emails, fewer spam complaints, and a drop in unsubscribes.

Regularly Clean Your Lists

Wiping your lists of fake email addresses (yes, people will subscribe with fakes!) is effective in building your email reputation, showing DMARC that you are on board with being above board. You can use an email verifying tool, or just your old-fashioned peepers to weed out the emails that look fake or have unusual characters in them.

Avoid URL Shorteners

Sure, these shorteners are handy; however, when it comes to email authenticating, these shorteners are also used by spammers to hide malicious links. So, if you also use these, you run the risk of zipping straight over to the spam folder.

Say NO to Spammy Subject Lines

If you aren’t sure what sounds spammy, and what sounds shiny, check out Sendlane’s guide to earning more opens with powerful subject lines. With this guide, we walk you through the critical process of choosing compelling subject lines that make it through spam filters.

For even more tips on avoiding the spam folder, and joining the DMARC compliant fam, check out Sendlane’s helpful infographic.

Did This Info Hit DMARC?

We totally get that the technical bits can become overwhelming. Especially if all you want to do is send awesome branded email messages without worrying about whether your domain is falling prey to email spoofing.

After taking just a few minutes on DMARC setup with the resource of your choice, Sendlane will help you craft compelling campaigns that not only reach your contacts’ inbox but garner open rates you can write home about. We offer the best in intelligent, behavior-based marketing automation.

Here’s a free trial, on us! On DMARC, get set – go!

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Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson