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Monday, July 31, 2006

DIY Tip: Email Authentication – Getting Your Message Read!

Posted by @ 5:51 pm

Email communications can be one the most cost effective ways of getting your message to your target audience. As with any cost effective publishing tool, email has also fallen victim to unscrupulous use and the abuse is diminishing the value of the communication medium. Enter email authentication to save the day!

We recently started using a new domain for our news based emails. The new domain is and represents the latest step in the ongoing journey of email authentication we started some time ago to combat the issues that email communications face.

While there is no one definitive authentication standard at this stage, there are several available that cover most of the major free email providers like Yahoo!, Hotmail and MSN. And the best part is they are free.

Why is authentication important?
E-mail’s value lies in it being read. If no one reads your newsletter, what’s the point? These new authentication tools help your communications make it into your customers or prospects inbox rather than their junk folders – which is the first step to them being viewed!

Authentication, without getting into the technical details, involves your email systems providing “records and keys” within your emails that receivers (their email systems) can check upon delivery. If your email has the appropriate authentication, then your email is sent directly to your recipient’s inbox.

What are the Key Authentication Standards?
While there are probably many out there, two in particular stand out from the pack due to the support they are receiving from big companies and the impact they should have on your delivery success.

SPF – Sender Policy Framework
Sender Policy Framework is the authentication that is championed by MSN and Hotmail. It is designed to stop email being sent from forged addresses using DNS records in your emails. Remember, email success is influenced by reputation, so you don’t want spammers emailing your customers using your domain name.

DomainKeys is the second major authentication protocol (developed and heavily supported by Yahoo!). It is the first that provides end to end integrity for your emails. DomainKeys adds a signature to your emails that are verified by the receiving email handler (SMTP Agent).

If you wish to get a much deeper technical understanding of the two frameworks, visit WikiPedia for the complete run-down.

So what to do next?

If you have set up your email system and are well versed on DNS records, Email headers and MTA’s etc, then visit the following links to find out how to set up authentication on your email communications. However, if you’re like me and better at writing the emails than knowing the technology behind how they work, then liaise with your ISP or email provider and they should set them up for you.


SPF – Sender Policy Framework

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

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