Graphic of desk of female entrepreneur announcing article on email deliverabilty and what is going to change in 2024

Have you already heard or seen messages about Email Deliveribility and how it will affect businesses all around the world?

It’s true that big changes are coming… and as small business owners and we need to prepare! 

We have written this article especially for female entrepreneurs – sending newsletters is super important to almost any business and especially to female business owners. It is THE way to stay in touch with people that have shown an interest in your business and your offers. 

It is a well known fact that people have to see and hear things several times before they make a buying decision, AND they only buy from people they know, like and trust.

Building an email list so you can pop up in people’s world (through their inbox) is the way you can make that happen, and a newsletter optin on your website helps you convert website visitors into subscribers, and then through nurturing them with your emails, into paying clients.

For email marketing to work though, you need to make sure you end up in people's inboxes!

And the big players in the email world – gmail, yahoo and microsoft that together control most of the world’s inboxes –  are changing the rules about what emails they are going to allow into people’s inbox and it will take effect from February 2024.

If you are a business and  you send emails and newsletters, these changes are going to impact you, so it’s important to know what’s going to happen, and why, and what you need to do to make sure your emails are still going to arrive where they should.

 

in this article we are going to:

explain what's changing and what's what

You may have already heard a few acronyms thrown around when people talk about email deliverability and the coming changes… DKIM, SPF, DMARC…. We’ll explain to you in simple terms what’s changing and why, so you know what’s actually happening.

explain what you need to do & how we can help

The changes in the email deliverability mean you need to take action if you want your emails to continue to land in people’s inboxes. That’s both your regular emails and your newsletters. We explain what needs to happen and how we can help you with that.

Let’s dive in and get this done and over with! We totally got this!!

our email deliverability compliance & optimization service

If you don’t need the background story and want to jump straight to what you need to do and how we can help you with this, click the button to go straight to more information about our Email Deliveribility Compliance & Optmization Service at the bottom of this post!

email deliveribility in a nutshell

In a time where emails rule our inboxes, ensuring your messages actually land there is a big deal. Everyone, from your family to your clients, is in the same boat. And the email landscape is going to change because major email players like Google and Yahoo are shaking things up. They now require from us that our emails are authenticated (checked) with three mechanisms or protocols, DKIM, SPF and DMARC

Let’s break it down in simple terms so you can keep your emails sailing smoothly. And let’s start with the basics…

how email works

Ever wonder why some emails soar into inboxes while others end up in the spam folder? Welcome to the world of email deliverability.

Most people think email works more or less like this:

  1. You type a message and send it to someone.
  2. The other person receives your message.
How most people think email works - email deliverability

But in practice there is a bit more to it …

how email actually works (simplified)

What actually happens is that after you press send on your email, it goes to an outgoing email-server. This is a bit like what a post-office is for snail-mail. They sort the mail and send it on to an incoming email-server, which is like a receiving post-office in a different place.

The receiving post-office again does some sorting and then sends the mail on to its final destination; the person you were emailing.

How email actually works - email deliverability

what is changing?

The other day I read that Google alone processes 15 billion junk emails every day. That’s a lot. And here’s me thinking I get too much spam!

This takes a lot of resources that could be used in a better way. No-one needs junk-email, and it’s annoying for everyone.

For many years there have already been technologies to reduce spam, but until now they have never been enforced strictly. They’ve always only been recommendations. However, from February 2024 that’s changing. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have decided to make these recommendations a requirement from then on.

What does this mean?

recommendations becoming requirements

It means that if you send an email, and it doesn’t pass the requirements, your email won’t be delivered at all. So it will no longer be marked spam and be delivered to a junk-folder. No, it will simply be discarded instead; like it never even existed in the first place.

So that’s going to mean less junk email to deal with. Which is great, right?

Yes, it’s a great step forwards. But it also means that all legitimate emails need to comply, otherwise they’ll receive the same treatment as spam.

maintaining your sender reputation

To make sure your emails keep going to inboxes, you need to maintain a good sender reputation. In other words, if you do spammy stuff, your emails are going to be blocked. Part of a good sender reputation is following certain protocols. These protocols have been around for a while, but probably you’ve never had to deal with them, because they were only a recommendation instead of a requirement.

So what are these protocols?

methods for stopping spam

There are 3 things you need to have in place for your email to pass the new requirements: SPF, DKIM and DMARC. Let’s a have a look at what they are, using mail and post offices as a metaphor.

spf
sender policy framework

With SPF you define which post offices are allowed to send email on your behalf. An example of such a post office would be your mail server where your website is hosted, and an email service provider like Mailchimp or Mailerlite.

We’ve all received emails that look like they are coming from a friend, but when you open the email there is just some spam or a dodgy link. That practice is called email spoofing. SPF tries to prevent that from happening.  It’s like having a checklist at the post office that says who’s allowed to send mail on your behalf. When your email arrives, any receiving post office can check this list to make sure it’s from an authorized sender (approved post office), keeping out any rogue mail.

So if you always send your mail through post office A, and post office B suddenly receives mail that claims to be from you, but actually comes from any other post office they’ll reject it.

how SPF works - email deliverability

dkim
domainkeys identified mail

DKIM is your unique signature on a sealed letter. It’s like adding a special signature and seal. When it reaches the post office (email server), they check the seal against the one on file. It’s like one of those old-fashioned wax seals on a letter that you may have seen in a movie. It assures the recipient that the letter is authentic and hasn’t been opened on its journey.

So post office B receives mail with an intact seal and sends it on to the recipient. But if the seal is missing or has been tampered with, they’ll discard the message.

how DKIM works - email deliverability

DMARC
domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance):

DMARC is your instructions to the receiver about handling questionable mail. It’s like a note attached to the letter, instructing the receiver on what to do if the wax seal is broken or if there are suspicions about the sender. DMARC provides instructions to email receivers on how to handle emails that fail SPF and DKIM checks.

You can choose what you put on this note. At its most basic level you can specify that you don’t have a preference and let the receiver decide. But you can also specify that you would like messages that don’t pass the checks to be either quarantined or rejected. And you can request to receive a note back with what happened with your messages.

So if the message passes all the checks, it is sent on to the receiver. And if not, it gets blocked. You’re optionally notified.

How DMARC works - email deliverability

what about spamfilters?

With email there is another gatekeeper after the receiving server, and that’s your email program. This could be Outlook or Gmail or something else. These programs also have spam-filters built in, which look at various things, including the content of the message it receives. If that’s all good, the message goes to the receiver’s inbox, and otherwise it’s sent to the junk-folder. The spam filters look at things like email content (spam words and links), your IP address and blacklists

spam filter - email deliverability

what you need to do to comply

To ensure your emails will still arrive in inboxes after february 2024 you need to make a few settings, both for your email server for your website email, and if you use an email marketing service such as Mailerlite or Mailchimp to send newsletters, also in their settings.

the settings that need to be made

You now have a better understanding of the role DKIM, SPF and DMARC play in email deliverability. Making sure that these are configured correctly will give the emails that you send the best chance of landing in people’s inboxes.

The configuration for these email authentication protocols (so DKIM, SPF, and DMARC) happens at the DNS server of your domain.

what is a dns server?

In a snail-mail analogy, a DNS server is like the postal address directory. Imagine you want to send a letter (email) to your friend’s house (recipient’s email address). To find the exact location, you consult the town’s address book (DNS server), which contains the addresses of every resident (domain names and their corresponding IP addresses).

So, when you drop your letter (send an email), the postal service (email server) checks the town’s address book (DNS server) to determine where to deliver it. In addition to the address information, your DNS server also holds the information to properly authenticate your emails.

You get the values that need to be entered into the DNS from your email hosting provider and your email marketing service. They act as digital signatures, which help your to be recognized and authenticated by receiving servers. Once you have the records set, it’s a good idea to test them to ensure they are all correct.

can you do this yourself?

You probably know we are all about empowering you by showing you how you can take matters in your own hand, but to be honest, this is quite boring AND a little technical, so for most people we wouldn’t recommend doing this yourself. Configuring email authentication protocols involves delving into the intricacies of DNS records, and while it’s certainly doable, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And it’s possible to break something accidently.

If you do want to do it yourself, then these are good starting points for more info about the three mechanisms we talked about:

how we can help

With our Email Compliance & Optimization service we make the SPF, DKIM and DMARC settings for you, for your email connected to your website domain, and in the email service provider you are using to send your newsletters, also connected to the same domain.

After we have made the settings, we will send a number of test emails to make sure everything is working as it should.

Our fee is €99
+ VAT where applicable*

(   +/- 108 USD  │ 85 GBP  │ 145 CAD │ 162 AUD  )

(*VAT is Value Added Tax, and this tax is only applicable for our clients in the European Union, so if you are not in the EU no tax will be added )

Contact us at hello@websiteswithaheart.com, or through the contact form below to book your slot. We will try to help everyone as fast as we can but depending on demand there may be some wait time, and we will help on a first come, first served basis.

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