How to Prepare for Upcoming Google and Yahoo! Changes

Cement your sender reputation and ensure your emails reach your subscribers’ inboxes.

On October 3rd, both Yahoo! And Google announced they will be tightening up their policies on allowing unauthenticated mail into their systems, a move specifically aimed at reducing spam from bulk senders. 

While authenticating your email has grown in importance over the last several years, the changes coming from Yahoo! and Google demonstrate just how important authentication is (and will be) to ensuring the delivery of legitimate emails. Increasingly, mailbox providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! are relying on the visible sending domain’s authentication policies, practices, and reputation to deliver the mail that users want. While Constant Contact has been authenticating our customers’ mail for over 10 years, these recent changes mean a few more steps may be necessary to ensure deliverability.  Let’s dig a little deeper to understand why. 

What is email authentication?

Authentication is a recognized mechanism to verify that an email comes from who it claims to come from and is not a spoof.  Over the years, there have been several different approaches to email authentication, but the current best practice is to authenticate your emails with DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail).  This technique uses cryptographic signatures to sign the messages as they are sent, and the domain owner publishes a public key in their DNS for receiving mailbox providers to use to decrypt the signature as it enters their system. 

When Constant Contact authenticates on behalf of our customers (as we’ve been doing for years), we are signing the mail with our own domain (i.e., auth.ccsend.com instead of your business’s web domain). For years, this was enough; however, in the ongoing battle against spam and phishing emails, more and more mailbox providers are seeking ways to validate  the domain found in the friendly, or visible “From:” address.  This is the address your customers see when they open your mail. 

In the example above, the sender’s email address is attached to their business web domain. Authentication provides a behind-the-scenes-way to prove this address is legitimate.

Since this address is often spoofed, the mailbox providers want to make sure it can be trusted.  This means that in order to prove that you are who you claim to be, you should be authenticating your mail using your domain in addition to Constant Contact’s.  At Constant Contact, we refer to this as Self-Authentication. Self-Authentication can only be used with a domain you own. You will not be able to set up this level of authentication if you are sending from an ISP domain like gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com, comcast.net, etc.

Brand reputation

Sending mail using your own domain and signing it with DKIM authentication will help your brand (and your email) start to build its own reputation. This can help you stand out in the inbox, and, if you’re following best practices, improve your deliverability to the inbox.  And let’s face it, sending mail from <name@company.com> looks way more professional than <company@gmail.com>. Recipients will have more confidence the brand they are doing business with is professional and trustworthy.  Plus, if you’re already a good emailer, it will help the mailbox providers recognize your mail and keep it out of the junk folder. So what are you waiting for? 

What’s next? 

At Constant Contact, we have been working to make this part of email marketing easier for you! While we have offered self-authentication (authenticating with your own domain) for a while now, the process just got easier with our DKIM/CNAME feature update. Once enabled from the settings page, you will be given a set of records to be added to your domain’s DNS host. Not sure how to do that? Here are some quick pointers:

The first step is to determine where your domain is hosted:

  1. Who set your website up for you, or initially purchased your domain? If you used a contractor or even just a friend with web experience, they can likely point you in the right direction.
  2. If you purchased your domain yourself through a large registrar such as GoDaddy, it is likely your records are hosted there.   
  3. If you are able to locate bills or invoices (typically annually) for your domain, the information may appear there, as well.
  4. You can also look up your domain registrar at icann.org by entering your web address in the lookup field.

Once you determine where your DNS records are hosted, you will log in to your DNS host and add the new CNAME records  to your domain. Most hosts have a similar process, but we’ve included links to the instructions for several top hosting sites:

Once your CNAME records have been published by your DNS host, you will need to check back into your Constant Contact account to verify we can see them correctly and confirm everything is set up correctly.  Our Knowledge Base article can help you get started!

The takeaway

More advanced anti-spam measures from top inbox providers can pose a challenge for businesses trying to communicate with a significant number of recipients. But as more spam gets weeded out before it hits the inbox, more legitimate emails– like yours–can reach their intended destination more effectively. 

For businesses who are sending email from a domain that they own, CNAME self-authentication can help contribute to a solid sender reputation and better deliverability. For senders who are not sending through a domain they own, Constant Contact’s deliverability and product teams are hard at work behind the scenes to add more functionality to make sure your email gets exactly where you want it to.

Investing in an established, expert email marketing solution like Constant Contact can ensure you’re using email marketing tools supported by a dedicated deliverability team. This has helped Constant Contact achieve best-in-class deliverability that’s recognized by G2 as a leader in the industry.

The post How to Prepare for Upcoming Google and Yahoo! Changes appeared first on Constant Contact.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *