The Easiest Way to Improve Email Deliverability


Engaging content is crucial in email marketing. You may even think it’s the most important factor in your strategy as it can persuade your audience to take action. However, what’s the use of creating great content if it never makes it to your subscribers inbox?

1 in every 6 emails ends up in spam folders or remains undelivered. – Validity

While you can learn how to keep your emails out of the spam folder from hundreds of other great articles, no one’s really addressing the critical error that thousands of companies are making right now, resulting in serious issues with email deliverability. 

The single most important way to improve email deliverability is properly configuring your email domain.

Are Your Email Domains Properly Configured? (Probably Not) 

Today around 80% of emails sent are using the top 3 email hosting providers:

  1. Gmail for Business (34% of global market share)
  2. Microsoft Exchange Online (30% of global market share)
  3. GoDaddy Email Hosting (16% of global market share)

All of these providers rely on the users to configure their email domain properly and the responsibility is always on the sender-side. It is not terribly difficult, but it often gets overlooked. 

Spam and spoofing are on the rise, and email hosting service providers are responding, so more emails are ending up in their recipients’ spam box. When this happens, not only is your brand’s communication disrupted, but consider the impact on your PR or branding. Imagine the impact on your email marketing campaigns.

Last year, we noticed our Google Workspace spam detection was filtering more and more incoming emails.  In each case, we checked the domain and it failed Google’s Check MX tool. 

As a concern for our clients, regardless of service, we started auditing all of their email domains. Based on the alarming results, we now audit this for every new client we onboard. 

Results from over 100 of our clients: 

  • Only 9% completely passed all three security controls.
  • Only 17% were free of Errors (containing only Passed or Warnings).
  • 37% use Gmail and do not authorize Google servers to send
  • 14% have other SPF record issues (only one, too many, or incorrect format)

How can you properly configure your email domain? Well, there are two key methods: 

  1. Email Domain Validation
  2. Email Domain Authentication

What is Email Domain Validation?

Email domain validation is the verification of an email address, whether real or fake. The process goes beyond a simple syntax check. It delves into checking a domain’s mail exchange (MX) record. 

Email domain validation ensures your emails aren’t flagged as spam. When an email server receives too many messages from your unverified domain, it can automatically report your domain as a potential spamming source. Racking up multiple spam suspicion reports can get your mail server blocked or tagged by spam filters.  

Email Domain Validation Test with Google’s Check MX Tool

The Check MX Google Admin Toolbox can help you check for problems with the configuration of your domain. Some points the tool checks are:

  • Domain should have at least 2 NS servers
  • Naked domain must be an A record (not CNAME)
  • SPF must allow Google servers to send mail on behalf of your domain
  • MX lookup must fit in one UDP response packet

If a problem pops up, you can troubleshoot your MX records. Here are a few ways to quickly fix common issues.

  • Check the MX records applied to your primary domain.
  1. With the administrator account, open the Google Admin console
  2. Go to Apps > Google Workspace > Gmail
  3. Select Setup
  4. On the left, choose your primary domain
  5. Under MX Records, check the records of your primary domain. It should look like the image below.
  1. If they don’t look like the image, Google has host-specific instructions to guide you. 
  2. If you have problems sending or receiving emails, you can add a period at the end of your MX records—for example, ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 
  • Check your MX records using G Suite Toolbox Dig.
  1. Access Google’s MX lookup tool
  2. Enter your domain name without the www. on the Name box
  3. Select MX to see your domain’s MX record report
  4. Your records should match the table below. If not, follow Google’s host-specific instructions.
  • Wait 72 hours for the changes to reflect. The changes to MX records may just take time to go into effect.
Source: Google
  • Try adding or removing the @ sign. Depending on your domain host, they may require you to add the @ symbol in the Name, Host, or Alias column of your Domain Name System (DNS) records or leave it blank. After incorporating the changes, wait 72 hours to check the records and see if it helped. 

What is Email Authentication?

Email authentication is a solution verifying that a message isn’t forged. With 70% of global emails classified as malicious, email authentication prevents spoofing, phishing scams, and other instances wherein an email appears legitimate but is actually from a malicious third party. 

Some popular email authentication implementations are SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. They supplement the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the basic protocol used to send emails since it doesn’t have any authentication mechanisms. 

Email Domain Authentication Test with MX Toolbox’s SuperTool

You can check the DNS record of your domain by using MX Toolbox’s SuperTool. Add your email domain to the search bar to check for errors. Solutions are available for any issues, depending on your chosen platform.

If you’re using Google, it checks across the three email security controls, namely:

  • SPF – Identifies the servers and domains authorized to send an email on behalf of your organization.
  • DKIM – Adds a digital signature to outgoing messages, letting receiving servers verify that the email was from your organization.
  • DMARC – Tells receiving servers what they want to do with outgoing messages from your organization if they aren’t SPF or DKIM.

Each email standard has ways to troubleshoot issues.

SPF

  • Verify your SPF record
  • Check that emails pass SPF authentication
  • Ensure your SPF record includes all email senders
  • Review your email sending practices

DKIM

  • Verify that your DKIM is set up correctly
  • Confirm that messages pass DKIM authentication
  • Check email forwarding
  • Get in touch with the admin for servers that reject DKIM-authenticated messages
  • Inspect your domain provider’s TXT record character limits
  • Review your email sending practices

DMARC

  • Verify that messages pass authentication
  • Review your email sending practices
  • Get more information with the Email Log Search

Send Emails That Reach Inboxes

Engaging content must reach your audience’s inboxes if you want to improve brand awareness or increase sales. Email deliverability and email marketing go hand in hand. You can’t just focus on one and expect your campaign to thrive. 

Aside from its role in marketing, email deliverability also plays a role in cybersecurity. With 90% of cyberattacks starting from emails, it’s important to properly configure your email domain to avoid spoofing and phishing scams. It may seem like a complicated and technical process, but it’s an investment worth making. Ignoring email domain configurations is setting your business up for failure. 

Partner your email deliverability efforts with a smart email marketing strategy to promote your business and drive sales success. A digital marketing agency like Spiralytics can help you bring these two elements together.

Contact us today to learn more!

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