Despite the unstoppable growth of social media, 1 platform is still number 1 when it comes to business. And surprisingly it's email. But there is a big problem. Email open rates and by implication click through rates are falling.
People buy from people they know, like and trust. If you are not building a relationship with your prospects, it's unlikely you will build a viable business. Which is why email is such a vital tool. It's already mobile optimised. Most people carry it around with them in their pockets. People are always checking it.
So why are open rates falling?
The big reason is due to sheer volume. But there are other factors at play. Bad sender reputation being one. Just bad pushy emails is another. And there is another reason which is catching out a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Are you are still using a ‘@gmail' or any one of the Microsoft or Yahoo email addresses as the from address? If so you will have seen open rates drop off a cliff. And this is a good thing. Bear with me here.
Internet service providers are cracking down on emailers. They have introduced a new standard which will help cut out a lot of fake and spam email. In simple terms, you must send your email via your own domain.
What exactly is DMARC?
DMARC is an email protocol that uses SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) to determine the authenticity of an email, or prove that an email is coming from where it claims to be coming from. DMARC was created to prevent phishing, but in turn, due to the complexity of some of its details, it has made it that much more difficult for email marketers to reach the inboxes of their target customers if not implemented correctly.
While many email providers currently have DMARC policies in place, Microsoft and Gmail are expected to update their policies sometime this year, which will directly affect how marketers send email. Under the new policies, no one other than Gmail will be able to send email from an @gmail.com email address, and no one other than Microsoft will be able to send email from @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com and @msn.com email addresses. Yahoo already has a similar policy in place, and therefore only Yahoo can send email from a @yahoo.com email address.
What does this mean for email marketers?
This means that email marketers can not use Gmail or Microsoft email addresses to send email through an email provider. All email must be sent from an owned domain. In most cases, brands own their own domains, however for smaller brands and companies, if email is sent through a Gmail or Microsoft domain, it will no longer be delivered even if it is wanted mail. Without complying with this update, marketers may see their deliverability rates drop.
Complying with DMARC standards will help marketers control their sending reputations, increase visibility into their programs while keeping mail relevant, and establish consistent policies for dealing with unauthenticated mail.
- Protect your brand. Publishing a DMARC record protects your brand by preventing unauthenticated parties from sending mail from your domain. In some cases, simply publishing a DMARC record can result in a positive reputation bump.
- Increase visibility into your email program. Reviewing and consuming DMARC reports increases visibility into your email program by letting you know who is sending mail from your domain. You’re able to get a better look into who is trying to act like you.
- Establish a consistent policy for unauthenticated mail. DMARC helps the email community establish a consistent policy for dealing with messages that fail to authenticate. This helps the marketing email ecosystem as a whole become more secure and more trustworthy.
Setting Up DMARK in 15 Mins
Setting these things up can be a little tricky but if you have some knowledge and are happy to follow instructions the Return Path have a guide. They claim it can be done in 15 mins. Here's the info:
While the implementation process can get tricky, building your DMARC record doesn’t have to be. Follow the steps below to build your DMARC record in 15 minutes—or less!
Step 1: Verify domain alignment (aka identifier alignment)
Begin by opening the email headers from the emails you send. Identify the domain or subdomain listed in the following places:
- The Envelope From (i.e., Return Path or Mail-From)
- The “Friendly” From (i.e., “Header” From)
- The d=domain in the DKIM-Signature
Are your domain names identical? If so, then your domains are aligned and you will be able to instruct mailbox providers to reject any malicious emails purporting to be from your brand. If not, you can still proceed to create your DMARC record and work with your messaging, IT, and/or security teams to get aligned.
Step 2: Identify email accounts to receive DMARC reports
Through DMARC, you will receive aggregate and forensic (message level) reports daily. Designate the email account(s) where you want to receive these reports. You may want to use two separate accounts, as you could get inundated with the data.
DMARC reports are very difficult to parse because they are provided in raw format. Partnering with a company like Return Path can help you and your team make sense of them—fast.
Step 3: Learn the DMARC tags|
DMARC tags are the language of the DMARC standard. They tell the email receiver (1) to check for DMARC and (2) what to do with messages that fail DMARC authentication.
There are many DMARC tags available, but you do not have to use them all. In fact, we recommend keeping it simple. Focus on the v=, p=, fo=, rua, and ruf tags. Our recent blog post, Demystifying the DMARC Record breaks down what tags to use and why.
Step 4: Generate your DMARC record with Return Path’s DMARC Creation Wizard
Using our DMARC Creation Wizard, generate a DMARC text record in your DNS for each sending domain. Set the mail receiver policy to “none,” indicating DMARC’s “monitor” mode.
With DMARC in monitor mode, you can gather the information on your entire email ecosystem, including who is sending email on behalf of your brand, what emails are getting delivered, and what emails are not.
Request to receive the daily aggregate and forensic reports by specifying your email address in the rua tag and the ruf tag, respectively. Use the email address(es) you identified in step three above.
Your record should look something like this:
Congratulations! You have created your DMARC record. The next step is implementation.
Step 5. Implement your DMARC record into DNS
Work with your DNS server administrator to add your DMARC record to DNS and start monitoring your chosen domain.
Patrick Peterson CEO of Arari explains in this video more about what DMARK is and why it's a good thing.
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