Want to improve your newsletter deliverability?

This tutorial will help you with the most important thing you probably aren’t doing for your Mailchimp newsletter: ensuring email deliverability. Because if your newsletter isn’t being delivered, then no training or tips or marketing tactics will matter. You’ll learn how to setup Mailchimp SPF and DKIM settings for Mailchimp domain verification.

Ensuring newsletter delivery basically means that you’ve got to prove that you are who you say you are, where your email address is concerned. Because spammers and spoofers like to use other people’s email addresses to push their evil agendas. To avoid this, you’ve got to use Mailchimp’s authentication methods, which is like a licence plate for your email. It provides a trackable identifier that shows your subscribers you’re legit.

Email hosts like Gmail, Hotmail and even AOL all look to see if your email domain has a DKIM and SPF records (see: Authenticating your domain further down in this post on how to use it).

According to OpenDKIM, email authentication has jumped from 53% in 2015 to 67% so far in 2016. So if you haven’t both verified and authenticated your email domain for your newsletter, you’re in the minority – and ISPs (like Yahoo) are even talking about blocking unsigned email blasts, due to massive amounts of email phishing that currently exists.

Thankfully, all it takes is a bit of proving who you say you are. Or rather, proving that your email address and custom domain belong to you. And you only have to do this once (unless you change your domain name).

Increasing email deliverability: Why it’s important to verify and authenticate

  • Authenticating your domain and email proves to your subscribers that you are who you say you are.
  • It also proves to Mailchimp that they can trust you enough to show your email address without a bunch of “via mail13.wdc01.rsgsv.net” that typically shows up beside your name in Gmail.
  • Speaking of Gmail, if you authenticate your domain , then Gmail will trust your emails enough to automatically load images (instead of asking your subscribers if they want to every time – like the image above). They even wrote about it here.

Holy benefits, right?

What do you need?

  • Domain registrar access.
  • Enough knowledge about DNS records to add a TXT and CNAME record to your domain.
  • Patience, since even though you only have to do this once, it can take up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect.
  • Note first that domain authentication is only available if you send emails from a custom domain (e.g. john@johnsmith.com, not john@gmail.com).

Here’s a video walk-through of the entire process:

Authenticating your email with Mailchimp

  1. Log into your Mailchimp account and click on your name in the top right navigation. From this dropdown, click on the Account panel. Then click Settings and pick Verified Domains.
  2. Click the Verify an Email Domain button.
  3. Type in the email address you use to send emails to your list and then click Send Verification Email.
  4. You’ll get an email with a code in it, so go to your inbox. Copy and paste that code into the Enter Verification Code field back in Mailchimp.
  5. Boom, you’re done. You’ll now see “Verified” under your domain on that screen.

Mailchimp domain verification

Now that your domain is verified, you need to authenticate it.

  1. On that same Verified Domains screen, click Authenticate beside your domain.
  2. You’ll see a TXT record to add to your domain. It’ll be a code similar to (but not this exact code) v=spf1 include:servers.mcsv.net ?all – copy and paste that into a TXT record as a value in your domain’s DNS settings.
  3. Next, scroll down to #2 on that screen and copy the CNAME and value to your domain. It’ll be similar to k1._domainkey as the hostname and dkim.mcsv.net as the value.
  4. Click Authenticate Domain and you’re done! (Note that it may not be instant since your domain registrar can take a few hours to update.)

Now your emails are much more deliverable.

Once you’re finished, images will load by default in Gmail, your email address won’t include a bunch of gibberish and your emails will be much less likely to go to SPAM or PROMOTIONS, all thanks to Mailchimp SPF and DKIM settings.

Now that you’ve taken care of the basic Mailchimp setup, you can start doing fancy things like:

Happy emailing!