Category Archives: Product Features

Email Authentication Next Steps – DMARC

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How DMARC Email Authentication Works

How DMARC Email Authentication Works

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) can be regarded as the latest advancement in email authentication. However, since it is not as conventional as SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail), we believe it is important to understand how DMARC is different, how it works and why should it matter to you.

So, to explain as clearly as possible, DMARC is a process that ensures that all legitimate emails are authenticating properly against established SPF and DKIM standards. It also ensures that any fraudulent activity appearing to be coming from domains that are under the control of the organization (defensively registered domains, active sending domains and non-sending domains) is blocked. Domain Alignment and Reporting are the two values of DMARC.
DMARC’s alignment feature effectively prevents any attempts of spoofing of the ‘header from’ address in the following way

⦁ It matches the ‘header from’ domain with ‘envelope from’ domain name that are used while performing an SPF check.
⦁ It matches the ‘header from’ domain name with the ‘d=domain name’ in DKIM signature.
In order to pass DMARC, the message has to pass SPF alignment and SPF authentication and/or DKIM alignment and DKIM authentication. A message will certainly fail DMARC if it fails any of these.

DMARC also helps senders in instructing email providers on how the authenticated mail has to be handled via a DMARC policy, eradicating any grey area for guesswork on how to treat mails that fail the authentication.

Senders can choose to either:
⦁ Quarantine the message(s) that fail DMARC (move it to spam folder),
⦁ Reject the message(s) that fail DMARC (don’t deliver the mail at all), OR
⦁ Monitor each and every mail, understanding the brand’s email authentication system and guarantee that a legitimate email is authenticating adequately enough, without any interference with delivery of the message(s) that failed DMARC.

Mailbox providers regularly send forensic and DMARC aggregate reports back to the senders, giving them complete visibility of the messages that are getting authenticated and the ones that are not, and why.

So why does DMARC really matter to you? The answer is quite simple – DMARC is the first and the only widely deployed technology that can authenticate the trustworthiness of the ‘header from’ address. This foolproof process protects customers and the brand, as well as discourages all cybercriminals to go after brands that have a DMARC record.

Read this article to find more about Mail Monitor’s email authentication processes.

First Things First – Email Authentication

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So you’ve scheduled a new offer for potential customers and you think you’ll be getting great conversions on these emails. But just when you hit your dashboard to monitor the results, you see a very different picture – you notice that a lot of your emails never got opened, ringing an alarm that maybe you’re much anticipated offer has been eaten up by the recipient’s junk folder. You might be having the common authentication problem that needs serious troubleshooting if you want your email marketing strategies to be a success.

To understand email authentication and how major services work, you need to know the following methods most commonly used by major mailboxes:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)SPF is an email validation system that identifies email spoofing by checking that the incoming email is from a domain’s authorized host. All authorized hosts for a domain are published in the Domain Name System (DNS) records on behalf of that domain in a specially formatted TXT record. SPF records prevent spammers from using your domain to send content from a forged address. With increase of spam attacks and hack attempts to encourage recipients to share sensitive information via emails, all major commercial and corporate mailbox providers have layers of SPF checks in place to defend their customers.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) – Just like SPF, DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is an authentication method for emails that detects spoofing. The purpose of DKIM is to help recipients check if an email has come from an authorized owner of the used domain and identify any forged sender addresses. DKIM allows an email message to associate with a domain by affixing a digital signature. The verification is done by using the public key of the signer published in the DNS. DKIM also usually helps ensure all attachments in an email are safe to open. While these email authentications can seriously affect your email marketing campaigns, they also mean that if you are prepared, you have a stronger chance of being trusted and noticed by your recipient.

The good news here is that Mail Monitor already has SPF and DKIM authentication checks in place for each and every email that our customers send. Having full control on evaluating email authentication helps us inform you of any issues so that you can get to troubleshooting in real time.

Avoid Spam Filters

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Mail Monitor runs your email content through common spam filters that offer spam scores and itemized feedback.

The spam filter testing feedback will point to a specific content issue that can be easily resolved to optimize email campaign performance.

Region Specific Seed Lists Added to Deliverability Tracking

By | Email Delivery Tracking, Marketing Email Deliverability, Product Features | No Comments

Different marketers often need to look at different sets of deliverability data depending on the client location and list ISP distribution. Up until now, each Mail Monitor report would display every ISP available for tracking. This is not always ideal and many of you have requested more control over your reports.

We’re happy to announce that each Mail Monitor account now comes with the ability to specify the region or regions to be tracked. To choose regions, simply check or uncheck checkboxes next the the regions on the setup page. Here is a peek at the changes to the setup page:

Region Specific Seed Lists

Region Specific Seed Lists

When adjusting regions, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • When adding regions, make sure to download the seed list again and add it to the outgoing distribution list
  • Campaign reports are updated for a 72 hour period after first received. If removing regions, reports sent within the last 72 hours can be inacurate for the removed regions.

SNDS Tracking and Automation

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Microsoft provides a fantastic amount of data through their SNDS program (Smart Network Data Services) that can help marketers responsibly monitor their sending reputation to Hotmail / Outlook.com email addresses. That should include just about everyone sending email. The data is free and any sender that uses a dedicated IP can sign up at:

https://postmaster.live.com/snds/

Performance and Enterprise Mail Monitor accounts now include the ability to automate and collect that data for review. All that is required is to have an SNDS account set up that is already tracking IP data. The Reputation tab of qualified Mail Monitor accounts walk you through the rest. This is a great tool for troubleshooting and monitoring delivery to Outlook.com and Hotmail.

Gmail Tabs – Good, Bad, or Neutral?

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Google recently rolled out a new inbox organization tool – Gmail tabs.

https://support.google.com/mail/answer/3055016?hl=en

Your Gmail box will now use some formula to determine what type of email is coming in and deliver it to the appropriate Gmail tab. The current tabs are Primary, Promotions, Social, Updates, and Forums. By default, Google will display Primary, Promotions, and Social tabs.

The new feature has sparked intense debate in the email marketing community about whether this is good, bad, or neutral. Time will tell whether an email delivered to the Primary tab is as effective as an email delivered to the Promotions tab. Dozens of blog posts and opinions have been posted. We’re not going to weigh in on the impact of Gmail tabs, but what we do want to do is track the data and let you decide.

Effective immediately, all Performance and Enterprise level accounts have access to a new Gmail tab tracking feature. These tests can be run individually or as part of regular seed testing.

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