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Tech Setup for Cold Email - SPF, DKIM, DMARC

Yaro Y.
December 20, 2023
9 min read

Are you tired of your cold emails ending up in the spam or junk folder? Worried that potential clients or business partners might not even see your email? Then it's time to set up your tech game for cold emailing.

In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about SPF, DKIM and DMARC - three essential components of any email authentication setup. These tools help verify the identity and authenticity of the sender, ensuring that your emails are delivered to the recipient's inbox and not marked as spam. By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of how to set up these tech measures for your cold email campaigns and increase your chances of success.

Tech Setup for Cold Email - SPF, DKIM, DMARC
Tech Setup for Cold Email - SPF, DKIM, DMARC

What is SPF? How does SPF work?

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework, and it is a type of email authentication that verifies the sender's identity. It works by checking the DNS records for the sending domain to see if the IP address of the server sending the email is authorized to send emails on behalf of that domain.

In simpler terms, SPF acts as a digital signature for your emails. When an email is sent, the receiving server checks the SPF record to see if the sending server has permission to send emails on behalf of your domain. If the IP address matches and is authorized, then the email will be delivered to the recipient's inbox.

So why is SPF important for cold email? By setting up SPF, you are essentially telling email servers that your emails are legitimate and not spoofed. This helps improve your email deliverability and reduces the chances of your emails ending up in spam folders.

To set up SPF a custom tracking domain, you need to create a DNS record on your domain with the list of authorized IP addresses or domains that are allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain. This can be done through your domain provider's control panel or by contacting your IT team.

How to set up SPF record on your server step by step?

  1. Determine your SPF version: The most commonly used SPF version is v=spf1, but there are other versions as well. Make sure to check which version your email service provider supports before setting up your record.
  2. Identify the authorized sending IP addresses or domains: This can include your own server's IP address, any third-party email services you use, or other domains that are allowed to send emails on your behalf.
  3. Create the SPF record: Use the appropriate syntax for your chosen SPF version and list all the authorized IP addresses or domains, separating them with a space.
  4. Publish the record: Once you have created the record, publish it through your domain provider's control panel or by contacting your IT team.
  5. Test your record: Use an online SPF checker subject lines or send a test email to verify that your SPF record is set up correctly.
  6. Update your record as needed: If you add or change any authorized IP addresses or domains, make sure to update your SPF record accordingly.

Specifying SPF sender lists

In some cases, you may want to specify a certain list of senders exempt from SPF checks. This prospect list can include email marketing services, transactional emails, or other automated emails that are not bound to your domain's IP address.

To do so, you can use the "include" mechanism in your SPF record and specify the sender's domain that is exempt from the SPF check. This ensures that these emails are not marked as spam or rejected by the sender reputation receiving server.

However, it's important to note that this mechanism should be used sparingly and only for legitimate senders. Including too many domains in your SPF record trigger spam filters can actually harm your email deliverability and increase the chances of your emails being marked as spam.

In addition to the "include" mechanism, there are also other SPF modifiers you can use to the spam filters and customize your record further. These include "-all" which indicates that all other servers not specified in the record should be rejected, and "~all" which specifies a soft fail, meaning the server may still accept emails but will flag them as potentially spoofed.

Do I need both SPF and DKIM?

Yes, it is recommended to have both SPF and DKIM set up for your cold email campaigns. While SPF verifies the sender's IP address, DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) verifies the authenticity of separate domain and the message itself. By using both measures, you are providing a stronger authentication system for your emails.

However, keep in mind that setting up SPF and DKIM does not guarantee that your emails will always be delivered to the inbox. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is another essential component that helps tie these two measures together and provides a strict policy for email authentication.

In the next section, we will cover DMARC in detail and how it works with SPF and DKIM to ensure your cold emails are delivered to primary inbox in the right inbox. So, make sure to check it out!

Stay tuned for more tips on how to make email service providers improve your email deliverability and increase the success of your cold email campaigns. With a solid tech setup in place, you can focus on crafting effective and personalized emails that will grab the attention of your recipients and lead to successful business outcomes.

What is DKIM?

DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is another type of email authentication that verifies the authenticity of an email message. It works by using a digital signature attached to the header of the email, which can be verified by the receiving server.

When an email is sent, DKIM generates a unique key for that specific message and adds it to the header. The sending emails receiving server then checks the DKIM record in the DNS to ensure that the key matches and the email is not modified during transmission.

Similar to SPF, setting up DKIM involves creating a DNS record with a public key, which can be generated through your email service provider or using a tool like OpenDKIM. Once the record is added and published, any emails sent from your domain will have a DKIM signature attached.

So why is DKIM important for cold email? Like SPF, it helps improve your email deliverability by verifying that the message is not spoofed or modified in any way. This also builds trust with your recipients, as they can be sure that the email is authentic and coming from your domain.

However, keep in mind that DKIM only verifies the authenticity of the message, not the sender's domain. This is where DMARC comes in, as it helps tie together SPF and DKIM to provide a strict policy for email authentication across multiple domains.

How to set up DKIM record on your server step by step?

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up DKIM record for your cold email campaigns:

  1. Generate a public and private key pair: This can be done through your email service provider or using a tool like OpenDKIM.
  2. Add the public key to your DNS record: Create a TXT record in your DNS with the DKIM selector, domain name, and public key.
  3. Publish the record: Once you have added the record, make sure to publish it through your domain provider's control panel or by contacting your IT team.
  4. Test the record: Use an online DKIM checker to verify that the record is set up correctly. You can also send a test email and check the header for the DKIM signature.
  5. Update your record as needed: If you change your public key or email service provider, make sure to update your DKIM record accordingly.
  6. Monitor your email deliverability: Keep an eye on your email deliverability and make sure there are no issues with your DKIM record. If you notice any problems, troubleshoot accordingly.

Remember to also set up DMARC for optimal email authentication and deliverability send cold emails. With SPF, DKIM, and DMARC in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that your cold emails are being sent securely and effectively.

What is DMARC and How does DMARC work?

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a protocol that helps tie together SPF and DKIM to provide a strict policy for all email messages and authentication. It works by using existing authentication methods to verify the authenticity of an email message.

When DMARC is enabled, it allows you to set policies for how receiving servers should handle emails from your domain if they fail SPF or DKIM authentication. These policies can be set to either "none," "quarantine," or "reject."

  • None: This policy is the default and will not take any action on failed emails.
  • Quarantine: This policy will mark suspicious emails as spam or send them to a separate folder, such as the recipient's spam folder.
  • Reject: This policy will reject emails that fail authentication, preventing them from being delivered to the recipient's inbox.

To set up DMARC, you need to create a DMARC record in your DNS. This record includes information on the policies, as well as contact email addresses for receiving reports on failed emails. Once email account published, receiving servers can check this record and follow the policies set by your domain.

Why does DMARC matter?

DMARC is a crucial component in email authentication because it helps tie together SPF and DKIM to provide a more secure and stricter policy for email delivery. Without DMARC, receiving servers may not know what to do with emails that fail SPF or DKIM checks, leading to potential deliverability issues.

By setting up DMARC and choosing a strict policy like "reject," you can ensure that only authentic emails from your domain are being delivered to recipients' inboxes. This also helps maintain the reputation of email providers for your domain and prevents potential phishing attacks using your domain.

In summary, DMARC is essential for maintaining email deliverability and protecting your brand's reputation. It works hand in hand with SPF and DKIM to provide a more secure and reliable email authentication system for your cold email campaigns. Make sure to set up DMARC and regularly monitor its performance to ensure the highest deliverability rates for your emails.

Keep these tips in mind when setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for your email campaigns, and you'll be well on your way to successful cold emailing. Remember to also stay updated on any changes or updates in email authentication methods to ensure the security and effectiveness of your cold email campaign communication.

How to set up DMARC?

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to set up DMARC for your cold email campaigns:

  1. Check if SPF and DKIM are already set up: Before setting up DMARC, make sure that you have SPF and DKIM in place.
  2. Create a DMARC record in your DNS: This record will include the policies and contact email addresses for receiving reports on failed emails.
  3. Choose a policy: Decide on the appropriate policy for your domain, such as "none," "quarantine," or "reject."
  4. Publish the record: Once created, publish the DMARC domain's dns records in your DNS.
  5. Monitor and adjust as needed: Regularly check for any issues with email deliverability and make necessary adjustments to your DMARC record.
  6. Stay updated: Keep yourself informed of any changes or updates in email authentication methods to ensure the security and effectiveness of your emails.

Remember, DMARC is a crucial component in email authentication, so make sure to set it up correctly and regularly monitor its performance. By doing so, you can maintain a strong reputation for your domain and ensure successful cold email campaigns.

Why it is Important to Setup SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

Setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC is vital for ensuring the security and effectiveness of your cold email campaigns. Here's why:

  1. Email deliverability: These authentication methods help prevent your emails from being flagged as spam or phishing attempts, ensuring that they reach the recipient's inbox.
  2. Brand reputation: By using these methods, you can protect your brand's reputation and prevent any potential phishing attacks using your domain.
  3. Security: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC work together to provide a more secure email authentication system, reducing the risk of cyber threats.
  4. Compliance: Many countries have laws in place that require businesses to have proper email authentication methods set up, making it important for compliance purposes.
  5. Effectiveness: With these methods in place, your emails are more likely to be delivered and opened by recipients, increasing the effectiveness of your cold email campaigns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, setting up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC is essential for maintaining email deliverability, protecting your brand's reputation, and ensuring the security and effectiveness of your cold email campaigns.

Make sure to regularly monitor these authentication methods and stay updated on any changes or updates in the industry to ensure successful cold email outreach and communication. With these tips in mind, you can google workspace can confidently send out cold emails that are authentic, secure, and compliant.

There is no need for a termination phrase as this content will continue to provide relevant information on the importance of email authentication and its implementation through SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

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