Deliverability Dilemmas Solved: The Skinny on Authentication
Q. How important is authentication? Is unauthenticated email given negative weight by ISPs? Is authenticated email given positive weight?
A. Authentication is important for many reasons, but ensuring inbox placement is not one of them. Just because an email is authenticated doesn’t mean the subscriber wants it or signed up for it. So, why authenticate? If you don’t authenticate your email, it’s very easy for illegitimate mailers to send email pretending to be from you. This is commonly referred to as “spoofing” or "spoofed messages."
There are three common authentication methods: Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Sender ID and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). Each method is designed to verify that the email purportedly coming from your domain is really coming from your domain. If you authenticate, it’s much less likely that those spoofed messages are going to make it into the inboxes at major internet service providers (ISPs). I see a lot of authentication results data from a lot of major ISPs, and more brands are being spoofed than ever. You need to protect yourself, and authentication is a great first step.
Having said that, it does appear that authenticating your mail may improve inbox placement for some mailers at some ISPs. More significantly, authentication may soon become a requirement with some ISPs.
So, what’s the next step? How do you authenticate your email?
The best practice is to implement SPF, Sender ID and DKIM. At a minimum, you should implement at least one — and if you’re a member of the Direct Marketing Association, only one method is required. You’ll need to coordinate with your IT group to get started. It'll be familiar with the specifications and can help in planning the process and publishing your records once you’ve built them. Here a six key steps to help you along the way.