Email Deliverability

a tricky topic for something as "simple" as email

05 Dec 2022

When using your own domain, by default, emails are not setup to be delivered properly.

Emails might be sent, but they might not be delivered, ie they might get caught in spam filters more often than not.

Some technical setup is required, to ensure receiving server will see your emails as trustworthy.

If you know your way with DNS records, it's fairly easy to setup yourself once you wrap your head around what SPF, DMARC, etc.. are.

Else, this can be all a bit technical - I recommend using a gig/service (see "Done for you" section below).

Overview

Check

You can start first by checking your current setup.

Use tools like EasyDMARC:

or PowerDMARC:

or MXtoolbox:

or Sender Score (GATED):

➤ not great, just basic checks

Blocklist check (also GATED):

Domain Setup

At domain level, specific DNS records need to be setup to ensure that emails are delivered properly.

Bare minimum are MX records

Though these just ensure that emails can be received, but does not guarantee sent emails will be delivered.

To ensure deliverability, you need to setup the following:

Critical:

Good to have:

Optional & new (but costly):

  • BIMI (optional - if you want to display your logo in the inbox + added deliverability)

Optional if using email tools with tracking:

DNS Records

Basically, this means adding DNS records like these to your domain name:

SPF

Just a DNS text record along the lines of TXT @ v=spf1 include:_spf-eu.ionos.com ~all - just need to find from provider what to put in as include: value.

Sender Policy Framework identifies the mail servers that are allowed to send messages for your domain.

DMARC

Just a DNS text record along the lines of TXT _dmarc v=DMARC1; p=quarantine; rua=mailto:XXXX@XXXX.XXXX; pct=90; sp=none.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance

Generate your DMARC record with this tool:

then add DNS record, eg:

v=DMARC1; p=quarantine; rua=mailto:email-example@btobsales.eu; pct=90; sp=none as TXT file named _dmarc.btobsales.eu.

Custom Tracking

If you use a custom tracking domain, DNS record along the lines of:

CNAME inst prox.itrackly.com

This will be provided by your email tracking provider.

DKIM

DNS record along the line of TXT google._domainkey.mydomain.com "v=DKIM1; k=rsa; p=MIGfMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA4GN[....]ADCBiQKOz56wSqPQIDAQAB" with a public key.

Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in emails (email spoofing), a technique often used in phishing and email spam.

Basically, content of email gets hashed and added to header with server signature.
When receiving server gets email, it can check with sending server if signature is valid.

Good article about it from IONOS:

https://www.ionos.com/digitalguide/e-mail/e-mail-security/dkim-domainkeys/

DKIM Record Generator:

DKIM Record Generator

Use this DKIM Record Generator to create your DKIM record:

BIMI

Optional

BIMI is a new standard that allows you to display your logo in the inbox. It also helps with deliverability as it's built on top of DMARC and requires a 3rd party to validate your logo.

You need to make sure that your logo is registered and recognized as an official trademark. VMC certificates will not be granted to any brand logos that aren’t registered by an official intellectual property office.

It's expensive though, eg with Entrust:

email-deliverability/entrust-bimi-vmc-pricing.jpg
https://store.entrust.com/default/certificate-services/verified-mark/vmc.html

or Digicert:

email-deliverability/digicert-bimi-vmc.jpg
https://order.digicert.com/step1/vmc_basic

Check your IP reputation

Deliverability services

EasyDMARC

from 40EUR/month!

PowerDMARC

starts at $8/month

DMARCly

starts at $18/month

Deliverability diagnostics

Email headers check

Check email headers with this tool:

Spam blacklist check

Allegrow

$70 per mailbox per month

Folderly

➤ $200/month!

Free check from Google Admin:

DMARC reports

Email Warming

Lemwarm

To warm up an email, you can use:

Lemwarm

Instantly.ai

04 Jun 2023 started testing to replace Lemwarm. Much cheaper to run multiple emails/accounts, and looks as good if not better.

Mailreach

$25/email account/month (!!!)

Inboxy

Tool built by https://www.leadbird.io/

Done For You

In the past, before diving in the topic myself, I used a Fiverr gig to get my email setup properly.

Plenty of gigs for this type of task:

04 Jun 2023 came across Leadhype, referred by Instantly.ai. Looks like a good option to outsource the whole process.

Verify Emails

See Tools for email finding & validation#email-verification

Email content

To maximise deliverability when engaging a new domain for the first time:

  • no HTML
  • no files
  • no images / at least not in the first email(s) with a given domain recipient)
  • links in plain text

14 Jul 2023

While not directly impacting deliverability, I learned that event sending links as plain text get caught by link protection systems (eg https://link.edgepilot.com from Appriver - so a link like https://dryfta.com appears as https://link.edgepilot.com/s/7b020da3/9N9is50NekuEJT0J1a8VRQ?u=https://dryfta.com/).
This means links don't land straight on the given page, but rather on some sort of proxy sandbox page I believe.
Not sure about the user experience.

Email volume

To not impact your reputation, send max 100 emails/day. Start at 10/day.

Optimise for answers

Even if it's a "no", at least you can disqualify the email, while not impacting your reputation.

A/B test your sequences.

links

social