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How to Set Up a Verified Sending Domain on ConvertKit for Better Email Deliverability

Setting up a verified sending domain is like giving your emails a VIP pass to the inbox party. It’s the secret sauce to ensuring your messages don’t just knock on the door but waltz right in. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to email marketing, I’ll guide you through making sure your emails are the guests of honor.

Think of it as your domain’s digital ID card—it tells the online world, “Hey, it’s really me sending this email.”

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to add those crucial DNS records that make your emails show your VIP pass to mail servers and how to test your sending domain.

Stick with me, and you’ll be sending emails that reach their destination and protect your domain’s reputation from any party crashers.

What is a Verified Sending Domain?

When discussing email deliverability, you can’t overlook the concept of a verified sending domain.

A verified sending domain is a domain that has been proven to be under the control of the person or business that is attempting to send an email. Essentially, it acts as a trust signal, informing email servers that you, sending the email, is legitimate and authorized to use the domain to send emails.

Tech jargon aside.

This process is similar to being on a guest list for an exclusive event. Just as the guest list reassures the host that only invited individuals can enter, a verified sending domain reassures email service providers that the sender is not a malicious actor, which reduces the likelihood of your emails being flagged as spam or phishing attempts.

The technical side of domain verification involves adding specific Domain Name System (DNS) records. These records are Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which collectively verify that the emails sent from your domain are indeed from you and haven’t been altered in transit.

These records contribute to a significant part of your domain’s reputation, affecting deliverability and open rates for your campaigns.

Think of each of these records this way:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF): This is like your invite list to the VIP party. As the host, you gave this list to someone at the door, and only people on that list can be allowed in. Anyone else looks suspect.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM): Imagine having a unique stamp only you own. You mark that invitation with this stamp. The person getting the invitation knows this is a genuine invite from you to come to the party.
  • DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance): Think of this as a set of instructions you give to the person at the door. It tells them, “Hey, if you get a invitation that looks weird or doesn’t have my special stamp, here’s what to do.”

It’s crucial to grasp that using a verified sending domain isn’t just a best practice—it’s necessary for anyone serious about their email marketing efforts. Whether for transactional emails or marketing newsletters, having a verified domain gives email receivers the green light to accept and deliver their email.

Before You Begin Verifying Your Domain

When setting up a verified sending domain, it’s crucial to understand what you’re working with. A domain becomes the cornerstone of your digital identity, much like your physical address for mail. Before diving into the specifics of domain verification, I’d like to highlight some steps and considerations fundamental to the process.

First and foremost, access to your domain’s DNS settings is imperative. These settings are usually controlled by the company that registered the domain for you—your domain registrar. The registrar is where you bought your domain.

You must log into your account with your domain registrar to make the necessary changes. Without this access, the verification process can’t happen.

Also, keep in mind that DNS changes might not be instantaneous.

There’s propagation time, which can take up to 48 hours, where your changes must spread through the internet’s complex web of servers. Patience is key here, as rushing through and not allowing enough time for these changes could lead to confusion and issues in the verification.

ConvertKit makes it next to impossible for you to mess this up. More on that in the set up below.

Ensure you have a clear plan for the email addresses you’ll be sending from your domain. Once verified, you can send from any address within that domain.

Armed with this knowledge and a careful approach, you’re ready to set up your verified sending domain, which will safeguard your reputation and ensure your emails reach their intended inboxes effectively.

How to set up a Verified Sending Domain in ConvertKit

Domain verification is no longer optional. Google recently announced some major changes to email authentication requirements along with Yahoo.

Google and Yahoo say the new requirements only apply to you if you send 5000 emails or more. However, I advise you not to wait until you are at that level. Could you imagine going to a website that isn’t secure or having that lock next to the URL? I can’t, but that was the case for a long time. It was only a requirement for websites that had ecommerce attached. So this, too, will be a requirement for everyone very soon.

You could find your emails in spam or bounced without a verified sending domain.

The beauty of a good email service provider, like ConvertKit, is that it does most of the heavy lifting. When I set up my verified sending domain with ConvertKit, all I did was click a button and then take the records they provided and put them into my DNS.

ConvertKit went further and took even more of this process off your plate. They partnered with Entri to securely connect to your domain registrar and update your DNS.

The process to set this all up is surprisingly straightforward:

  1. Navigate to the Settings → Emails in your account.
  2. Find the Verified Sending Domains section and click Set up your Verified Sending Domain.
  3. Enter your domain.
  4. Then, it will find where your domain’s DNS is located. Once that happens, you can log in with your DNS or registrar login.
  5. Auto-magically, it will then update your records for you.
  6. The final step is clicking Validate.

It’s worth remembering that during this verification period, fluctuations in open rates are normal as email service providers reevaluate your sender’s reputation.

However, this is just a temporary phase, and with the verified domain in place, you can expect a stable and robust email performance moving forward.

Recognizing that delivering emails is just as important as what’s in them, this step is indispensable for any serious email marketer using ConvertKit.

How do you test your verified sending domain?

Even though ConvertKit says you are good to go, you’ll want to test and ensure this works.

1. Send yourself an email from ConvertKit

After setting up your records, send yourself an email.

Using Gmail to read your emails is as easy as clicking on the down arrow next to the header.

Before setting this up, your emails will be co-signed by your email service provider to help prove that you are sending the email.

Here’s what mine looked like before setting up the verified sending domain. Notice the signatures:

After setting this up, the co-signatures will no longer be there, and verify that you are sending it.

Viewing the message headers, you can see this in other email clients, like Apple Mail.

2. Use a third-party validator like dmarcian.com

Goto dmarcian.com and enter your domain name.

If you scroll down, you may see a warning and a red X next to DMARC. This is a warning because of the p=none, which means that you are not blocking spammers and phishers.

However, according to what Google and Yahoo want, you only need a valid DMARC record. Which is what the description tells you.

Staying on top of your email marketing

2004 is twenty years ago. You can’t simply fire away your emails to any email address.

That’s not the case anymore.

Staying on top of your email marketing from a subscriber and technical perspective is crucial.

Using tools like Postmark’s DMARC weekly report allows you to regularly check your email setup for compliance and gives you an early warning sign of any potential trouble.

Signing up for Google’s Postmaster Tools helps see how Google sees you as an email sender.

Remember, adapting to these changes is not just about compliance; it’s about setting your email marketing up for success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to set up a subdomain?

Setting up a verified sending domain is crucial to ensuring email deliverability, but you might wonder whether to use a subdomain for this purpose. Subdomains are not necessary for domain verification, and it’s important to understand that attempting to verify a subdomain will not work. The process requires a top-level domain to be effective.

How long does domain verification take?

Domain verification typically doesn’t take that long. However, it can take up to 48 hours. Make sure to correctly enter the CNAME records provided by your email service provider into your domain’s DNS settings for a smooth verification process.

What is sender domain verification?

Sender domain verification is a process where your domain is configured to include SPF and DKIM records, authenticating your emails and improving deliverability. Unverified domains may lead to emails being marked as spam or rejected by the recipient’s email server.

How do you validate an email that it’s verified?

You can send a test email or use a third-party email verification service, like what’s described above, to validate an email’s verification status. Each method provides different levels of assurance.

Why is my sender not authenticated?

Your sender may not be authenticated if the email domain lacks proper SPF and DKIM records, or if the email service cannot confirm the message’s origin. Unauthenticated emails may appear suspicious to recipients and email providers.

In conclusion, setting up a verified sending domain is a crucial step in ensuring the deliverability and authenticity of your emails.

Using ConvertKit and its process makes the process seamless and extremely easy.

Adding specific DNS records such as SPF and DKIM establishes trust with email service providers and reduces the chances of your emails being flagged as spam or phishing attempts.

Additionally, implementing DMARC further enhances the security and handling of your email messages.

With a verified sending domain and a well-crafted email marketing strategy, you can effectively connect with your audience and achieve your email marketing goals.