As a genuine marketer, agency, or corporate, one of the best ways to increase sales, tractions, and conversions is to ensure your emails rest in your subscriber’s inboxes. As great as a highly converting email campaign may be, if those great campaigns wind up in your subscriber’s spam boxes, you will never break even in sales, profit, and engagements. In this tutorial, we will be looking at the 3 DNS Records Every marketer must know if inbox delivery is a priority.
The 3 DNS records that must be correctly configured to ensure good inbox deliverability are:
- PTR record or Reverse DNS
- DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)
- SPF Record (Sender Policy Framework)
These are not the only DNS records there are. The above DNS records are just for ensuring good delivery of outgoing emails from your mailing server or sending domain. We also have an Mx record. This allows the reporting of emails to your server. We will cover this much later in our next tutorial. For now let, let us focus on the 3 DNS records that affect outgoing emails.
Why You must configure these 3 DNS records
Today’s spam filters are very sensitive to spam patterns than ever. if you don’t correctly configure your server, your messages will be auto-tagged spam. This will make it auto-filter to the spam folder. So, this should not just be 3 DNS Records Every marketer must know, you have to implement them in your mailing server. we have to ensure not only we authenticate our servers correctly but must ensure our messages follow deliverability best practices.
PTR record or Reverse DNS
I normally call this the inverse of domain mapping. If you don’t know anything about domain mapping you can see my previous tutorial on how to set up a custom email marketing system from scratch. I revealed everything in-depth there.
As a quick glance for this tutorial, let’s look into domain mapping.
What is domain mapping
This is a way of assigning your domain name to an IP address. In other to access a domain online you have to query the host IP. This can be assumed to be your domain name. But due to the fact that IP addresses are strings of numbers hence are very difficult to remember, the domain name system helps to match a domain name that is easier to remember to its host IP address. For instance, it is easier for you to remember J-insights than its host IP address say 184.108.40.206. Even when you can remember the number above, you won’t for the different websites? Even when you do, how many will you remember? This is the main essence of the domain name system. This saves us the hassle of remembering strings of IPs.
Reverse DNS explained (RDNS)
Reverse DNS or PTR record as the name implies is the inverse of the domain name system. It is the process of mapping your hosting IP address to your domain name. While this is not compulsory for web hosting except if you have some specific need to configure it. Such need as tracking where website visitors originate from. When you configure Rdns and traffic is coming from, say 220.127.116.11 the reverse DNS is queried as 73.44.942.29. This tells you that the visitor originated from IP 18.104.22.168. This is not a criterium for reaching web servers. if traffics or visitors query your domain, it will still be located.
For mail servers, Rdns is compulsory for reaching email client’s servers. Not setting up Rdns will make some email clients which have auto rejection rules for Rdns reject emails from your server. In my experience, this is just an extra level of security to block spammers from accessing the inbox of their customers. In my opinion, it will be more difficult to have access to your domain registrar account and your server at the same time. Even when they do, you will notice the compromise easier and faster.
Quick Note on Rdns
Rdns is not a guarantee that your emails will get to the targeted inbox, this is just for email clients to allow your outgoing mails to pass through their servers. There are other factors for inbox placement. Review the deliverability best practices and how to set up an SMTP server from scratch to understand more.
Take Away: Rdns is not compulsory for Webhosting but it is for mail servers. This is because it helps email clients like Gmail, outlook, yahoo, etc to know the IP address or mail servers incoming emails are originating from. To learn more about Reverse DNS and how important it is, you can check this guide
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a TXT record published in the DNS Zone of your domain. The essence is to authenticate the servers that are allowed to send emails from your domain. This is one of the most important of the 3 DNS Records Every marketer must know to protect their domain from email spoofing, Phishing, and other malicious attempt targeted at your domain. To make things super simple here, SPF is just that thing that authorized entities to send emails using a domain name. Entities not included or published in the SPF record will be marked as spam or rejected completely from reaching the intending servers or recipient depending on your published dmarc policy. The entities I used in the above statement are just for clarity’s sake, we are talking about IP addresses.
This is a sample of what SPF record looks like.
v=spf1 a mx include:spf.postal.example.com ~all
Follow here to know more about SPF records and how important it is for your brand’s protection.
I hope the concept is now a little bit clearer now 🤗🤗.
DKIM is an email authentication technique that holds the public authentication key used to validate the authenticity of emails sent out from your server. This public authentication key only accessible by the receiving servers (Email Clients) serves to validate the email signature. You Just heard of email signature now ……. Let me explain. When you implement DKIM in your domain, your DKIM provider will inject an email signature on every email sent out. To unlock this signature by the receiving server it uses the public authentication key that your DKIM provides for them.
This is what the DKIM record looks like…….
v=DMARC1;p=none;rua=mailto:[email protected];pct=100;ruf=mailto:[email protected];fo=0:d:s;aspf=r;adkim=r;
DKIM being a TXT record serves to ensure your emails are not compromised before it gets to the destination. This is totally done on a server level. It is important to mention that once the cryptographic encrypted signature failed to be validated using the public key held by the DKIM record, your server has failed the DKIM test 😭. Once your DKIM server fails the DKIM test your emails will be sent to spam, rejected, or auto-forwarded to a specified email by you.
In conclusion, these are the 3 DNS Records Every marketer must know when it comes to email deliverability. Are there other DNS Records Every marketer must know? the simple answer is yes. But, this has nothing to do with email deliverability. In the next tutorial, we will talk about a few of them like the DMARC policy and MX record. To this end, we have come to the end of this guide.
Make sure to comment on your biggest takeaway in this tutorial. Your suggestions are also highly welcome. This helps us a lot to further solidify this guide so that everyone can get the best out of it.