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Understanding DMARC: A Simple Guide for Small Business Owners

I’ve been getting questions about this from a number of clients since the major email providers like Google and Yahoo announced their new requirements earlier in the year. These providers now require bulk email senders (those sending more than 5,000 emails per day) to have a DMARC policy in place. Emails that fail to pass DMARC checks will be rejected, meaning they won’t reach inboxes at all​.

While this may not apply to your business right now, DMARC has other benefits and is a tool we recommend for any small business.

What is DMARC?

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is a tool to help protect your email domain from being used by spammers for “email spoofing.” This means preventing bad actors from sending emails that look like they come from your business – you’ve likely seen this before.

Why DMARC is Important

  • Prevents Email Fraud: Stops spammers from using your domain to send fake emails.
  • Improves Deliverability: Helps make sure your legitimate emails reach their destination inboxes, not spam folders.
  • Protects Reputation: Keeps your brand’s email reputation intact.
  • Helps Meet Regulatory Requirements: The aforementioned major email providers’ new rules in 2024 for bulk senders.

How Does It Work?

It’s pretty simple:

  1. Authentication: DMARC uses two existing methods, SPF and DKIM, to verify if an email is from your domain:
    • SPF: Specifies which servers are allowed to send emails from your domain.
    • DKIM: Adds a digital signature to emails to verify they haven’t been altered at some point.
  2. Policy: If an email fails these checks, DMARC tells the recipient’s server what to do (e.g., reject or mark it as spam).

How Do You Get Started with DMARC?

  1. Set Up DMARC: Ensure your domain has a DMARC record. This involves configuring your DNS records to include DMARC, along with SPF and DKIM.
  2. Monitor Reports: Regularly review DMARC reports to understand how your emails are being handled and to identify any unauthorized email activity.
  3. Gradual Policy Enforcement: Start with a ‘none’ policy to gather data, then move to ‘quarantine’ and finally ‘reject’ as you become confident in your setup (you don’t want to block legitimate emails).

All Done!

Well, not really… DMARC monitoring is a long-term affair. Keep monitoring the reports, as something may change – something with your DNS setup or something else that may suddenly cause messages to no longer pass DMARC.

Implementing DMARC not only protects your email domain from being misused but also helps improve the delivery of your emails to others. It’s becoming more critical with major email providers like Google and Yahoo making it a requirement​ for large-volume senders in 2024 – but it’s a good idea for any business to authenticate and monitor their email sending.

If you need help setting up DMARC or would like to have it set up as part of your WP Minder Care Plan, let us know.

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