How does DMARC affect Email Reputation?

Date published: 2018-09-24
Last updated: 2022-08-17

The way that DMARC affects email reputation under certain conditions is by exposing the domain to feedback loops often for the first time.

After implementing DMARC Compliance (double check conformance), your domain will become visible to feedback loops most likely for the first time and therefore accountable. Feedback loops assess your email performance-based subscriber interaction compliance. Essentially how many times per campaign has the SPAM or Junk button been clicked.

Sample Email Domain Reputation Chart

High: expect high delivery rates
Low / Bad: Junk / SPAM Folder / no delivery

What is Email Domain Visibility?

Email domain visibility is a term we use when referring to the domain that the feedback loops and receiving mail servers base email domain reputation on. That domain is linked via DNS to the ip address of the mail server that sends the email. If the ip address, domain being used in the return path and / or are reported to the feedback loop then the reputation of each or both can be harmed.

It gets a bit more complicated that that however when you implement DMARC to the highest standard then you will always use your domain in the return-path. Therefore, it is your domain being visible to the feedback loops and spam block lists etc. not the email address of the email provider you have been using. Most campaign email, bulk email and automation email systems use the providers domains, hence why you see so many odd domains as it is these domains that get blacklisted and brunt the repercussions of poor client email practices.

If you have read this blog post What is email authentication and why is it important? then you should understand that there is at minimum 3 email addresses listed in an email header. It may seem strange however once a DMARC record is implemented for a domain it is most likely visible for the first time to receiving email servers that contribute to rating your email reputation.

What is a feedback loop?

A feedback loop is a term given to the technology used by most commercial and free email providers to monitor various variables that determine if an email is successful or not. The feedback loop can be triggered but is not limited to email recipients marking and email as SPAM or Junk.

The reason it is called a feedback loop is that some, not all, providers of this technology notify the email sender, which is determined by the return-path or smtpmail:from, that the email has been flagged as spam or some other issue. It is then left up to the sender of the email to make the relevant adjustments.

Your domain reputation is critical and will be affected by the technical implementation of your email servers and products using email, the volume of emails flagged as Junk or SPAM, authentication alignment and the alignment of publicly available records such the domain registration and the address on each email.

Make domain reputation monitoring part of your digital strategy with these tools:

Interpreting the information is vital

Domain Accountability Explained

Email feedback loops and sophisticated technology built to protect email servers from Viruses SPOOF, Phishing attacks, SPAM and Junk mail are monitoring senders of email senders of email every time an email is received to the destination email server.

Just as your emails are being held to account by technical expectations and standards such as authentication, frequency, volume per campaign ID plus hundreds more variables, certain organizational behaviours will have an impact on email domain reputation. Such risks need to be identified and processes implemented to ensure the best possible outcomes possible.

External to the technical requirements these vital practices can make or break a domain's reputation:

  • Contact / Subscriber acquisition, opt-in.
  • Content relevancy to the recipient.
  • Email frequency.
  • Email automation as used in drip campaigns kills engagement and these days your domain will simply be blocked and not unsubscribed to.
  • Following these sending best practices.

If email is important to your organization's success then you need to train your team and report weekly on key result areas.