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SPF and DKIM: Why Website Owners and Senders Need Accurate Records

Email is an essential communication tool for both personal and business purposes. But unfortunately, email can also be a vector for email spoofing, spam, and other malicious activity.

Don’t kid yourself. Spoofing is a big business. According to Wikipedia, the United States’s Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded $26 billion of losses for victimized firms in the US and internationally involving BEC attacks between June 2016 and July 2019.

That’s the reason why website owners and email senders who want high deliverability need to have accurate records in the form of SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) authentication frameworks. This article will discuss the basics of these frameworks and why they’re so essential to help emails land in the inbox.

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Why Are SPF and DKIM Important?

According to recent statistics, email remains the most popular customer acquisition channel for small companies, with over 80% of small businesses relying on sending timely emails to acquire and retain customers. As you might imagine, this constant demand makes high-deliverability email a powerful tool for everyone who uses the tools to keep in touch or run marketing campaigns.

Domain or website owners who fail to deploy SPF or DKIM records may see a significant decrease in email deliverability. In some cases, a glaring misconfiguration may even lead to the suspension of an entire domain. Other risks include getting messages labeled as spam or rejected entirely by recipient mail servers.

Senders who deploy SPF and DKIM records enjoy higher email deliverability rates and reduced chances of getting blocklisted. It also helps increase recipients’ trust in their emails, leading to more sales and conversions.

What Are SPF Records?

SPF is an open standard that allows domain owners to specify which IP addresses can send emails from their domains. This specification prevents spammers from using domain names that aren’t theirs using the target domain’s emails’ “From” address, called spoofing.

For example, someone with bad intentions could send an email from [email protected] to thousands of people to spam them or trick them into giving up sensitive information like credit card numbers or passwords.

To ensure your organization doesn’t fall victim, providing accurate SPF records blocks these fraudulent emails before reaching their intended recipients. That precaution reduces the risk of getting blocklisted and helps ensure that only legitimate messages from your domain are delivered.

What Are DKIM Records?

DKIM is a framework that allows senders to cryptographically sign their emails, proving that the messages originated from them. DKIM prevents email spoofing and helps ensure that the content of messages has not been tampered with during transit. In addition, it can help recipients determine whether an email is legitimate or not.

Can A Domain Have Multiple SPF And DKIM Records?

Yes. A domain can have multiple SPF and DKIM records, but only one of each should be in use at any given time. If there is more than one active record for either framework, it will cause problems with email delivery. For example:

If a change to the domain’s DNS required an updated SPF record, the registrar would need another text record. Likewise, additional hostnames would be necessary for DKIM authentication if the email address used multiple keys.

If you’re setting up multiple SPF or DKIM records for your domain, make sure that at least one remains active at any given time. If there are two or more SPF records in use simultaneously, it will cause problems with email delivery.

How Do I Know If My Records Are Accurate?

To ensure that your records are accurate, you can use tools like MX Toolbox to run a technical analysis. This tool provides a free SPF record checker and other valuable features, including DNS (Domain Name System) lookup and blocklist monitoring. A paid version is also available with more advanced features such as domain reputation checks and email deliverability tests.

How Do I Fix Inaccurate DKIM or SPF Records

If a technical analysis uncovers errors or inaccuracies in your SPF or DKIM records, you will need to take steps to correct them. For example, the findings may involve changing your DNS settings, adding new hostnames, or generating new authentication keys.

If you’re unsure how to fix these records, the professionals at Interactive Palette can help. We provide a diverse range of solutions to help you improve your email deliverability, including DKIM and SPF record set up, reputation management, and more.

Please reach out if you could use assistance setting up or fixing your existing SPF or DKIM records. Our experienced team of digital professionals can help get your email campaigns back on track!