This article is about how to take advantage of some settings in your DNS (Domain Name Server) to help avoid having your emails sent to spam. It contains a lot of jargon, so if you are only interested in how to set it up, skip to the final section.
Note: you should always check with your IT department before making changes to your DNS record.
Have you ever received a scam email from a reputable email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, and wondered how that’s possible? No, they didn’t hack Facebook (this time, at least). The scammers used a trick known as email spoofing that allowed them to send an email from their own email address disguised as another email address. This is designed to fool the recipient, as the email appears as though it’s from a trustworthy source.
Spoofing isn’t just a tool for scammers, though. When you send an email from a tool like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Salesforce, or even CATS, that tool sends the email itself and “pretends” that it’s from your email address, so that the end recipient still receives it as an email from you. Email spoofing has many legitimate business purposes.
Still, scammers and spammers alike have been known to spoof emails for their nefarious purposes. For this reason, a spoofed email can be immediately flagged as potential spam. That’s why two email protocols, DKIM and SPF, have been established: to combat email fraud, effectively making it possible for all email services to “speak the same language.”
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is a way to verify that a sender has permission to send emails with the appearance that they are “from” a certain domain (that’s the part of your email address after the “@”). SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is a way to check that an email from a certain domain was sent from an IP address that has been authorized by the domain’s owner/administrator. The two work in tandem to provide definitive proof that permission has been granted.
It’s complicated, but the takeaway is that DKIM and SPF are a way for email senders to establish trust with email receivers, and to avoid being incorrectly labeled as junk or spam.
Whether you have high spam rates or not, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re using any tools to send emails other than your regular email client (like Gmail or Outlook), chat with your IT administrator about whether you need to set up DKIM/SPF records. For instructions on how to do this for CATS, read our knowledge base article on custom email domains. In that article, you’ll also find links to articles about how to set up DKIM/SPF records with specific domain name providers.