With 3.8 billion global users, the impact of email marketing remains unmatched. However, 78% of companies reported they had faced email deliverability issues in the last 12 months. It’s been also reported that 21% of all opt-in emails never make it to the inbox.
Email deliverability, which refers to the email placement in the inbox, is deeply interconnected with DMARC and SPF. DMARC and SPF are fundamental components of email authentication that help protect email senders and recipients from spam, phishing, and spoofing.
But what do these terms mean, and how do they influence email deliverability? Let’s get into the details.
What is SPF?
SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is an email authentication form that allows an organisation to claim responsibility for an email so that the recipient can validate it. A domain owner can specify the mail servers they can use to send the emails with SPF protocols.
To briefly describe the operation of SPF, the receiving domain compares the sender’s IP address to a list of authorized IP addresses in the sending domain’s DNS records. If the results come back positive, the email goes into the inbox. If not, the spam filter blocks it. SPF does not provide any reporting functionality.
What is DMARC?
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is an additional layer of authentication built on SPF and DKIM to block fraudulent emails. DMARC adds further authentication parameters such as reporting, policy definition, and identity alignment.
The sending email server or servers uses DMARC records to communicate with the receiving email servers. It allows the receiving email server to confidently reject or quarantine unauthenticated emails without impacting the efficacy of the email program.
Benefits of DMARC and SPF
The DMRC record and SPF record work together to improve email security. Some of the major benefits of DMARC and SPF are –
- They stop spoofing, and phishing emails from your domain
- They provide information about the emails that you send, which can be helpful to get all legitimate emails properly authenticated
- They improve sender reputation and email deliverability
How does DMARC and SPF Influence Email Deliverability?
When a domain produces a DMARC and SPF record, it reduces spam email because spam filters are more likely to catch spoofed messages. It is a way to improve your brand reputation. A clean, improved reputation means your messages are more likely to reach your target inbox. Additionally, it demonstrates to the ISPs and receiving mail servers that you contribute to a positive email environment. In addition to preventing damage to your reputation, it improves the brand reputation and email deliverability.
As mentioned before, DMARC is an added layer authentication that comes into play after an email fails SPF and DKIM authentication. With the DMARC policy in place, the sender gives instructions to the recipient on what to do when a message doesn’t pass either of the authentication methods. It automates the spam detection process on the receiving end. It increases the receiver’s trust in the sending domain and increases the ISP’s willingness to place their emails in the inbox. As a consequence, it improves email deliverability.
The DMARC results also improve the authentication results by confirming the sources and IPs that send messages on behalf of the domain. It provides additional results of the SPF and DKIM verification. Based on these results, the domain owner can improve the SPF and DKIM verification to improve email deliverability.
Do You Need Both DMARC and SPF?
Major email providers such as Google and Microsoft require DMARC authentication on top of SPF and DIMK for all emails. Meaning you will need to add both DMARC records and SPF records to your domain to improve email deliverability to major email hosting providers.
Another reason you need to add DMARC to your domain is, it ignores the nuances of soft fail and hard fail in your SPF configuration. Additionally, as DMARC provides reporting functionality, it alerts the sending domain if its domain is being misused. The DMARC policy that defines the handling of unauthorized emails allows the receiver to enforce policies decided by the sender. In contrast, only SPF does not provide these functionalities. So, you need both DMARC and SPF to improve email deliverability substantially.
Spam emails are a rising concern in email deliverability. The exposed email addresses on the web are a steering reason behind the increasing number of spam emails. To reduce the number of spam emails you receive and ensure every important message reaches your inbox, you need to check your email address visibility.
To check your email address visibility, go to Sniff Email — an online platform dedicated to finding out if your email address exists on the Internet. Enter your email address in the search field and click fetch to find out if your email address exists on the web within a few seconds. Based on the results, you can take appropriate action to remove it.