One of the benefits of using a Google Apps / SendGrid email integration with GuessBox is the access you get to more technical features in addition to the standard open rate, response and click through rate reports.
Today, I'm going to be talking about how you can boost your email deliverability, and significantly reduce the chance of getting your emails sent to junk by using domain/email authentication.
Email authentication is most commonly done by adding DKIM and SPF signage to your domain's DNS records. This might sound complicated now, but once you get the hang of it - it's actually way easier than it sounds.
But, what is DKIM and SPF? you might be asking yourself right about now. They are the two most popular methods used to authenticate your emails and make sure they are originating from your mail server and not from an imposter pretending to be you.
Click the links below to read SendGrid's official explanation.
Getting Started: Update Your DNS Details
A lot of people cringe when they are asked to update their server's DNS information.
Understandably, this fear comes from the fact that almost everyone who has owned a website has had at some point experienced a DNS horror story, where perhaps they incorrectly updated their DNS details, and all of a sudden their website goes down, or perhaps their emails stop getting delivered.
But don't worry, that won't be happening today because I'm going to show you the simplest, and quickest way to start managing your DNS without the need to wait 24 hours for your DNS to propagate. Additionally, you'll receive some website speed and security enhancements automatically.
Introduction to CloudFlare
If you're a small business owner, or your business doesn't have a heavy web presence in the form of an app, there's a good chance that you may have never heard of CloudFlare.
Simply put once set up, CloudFlare is a service which routes all your website traffic through their services. This typically means your website is more secure, loads faster and is less prone to 'going down'.
"Once your website is a part of the CloudFlare community, its web traffic is routed through our intelligent global network. We automatically optimize the delivery of your web pages so your visitors get the fastest page load times and best performance. We also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting your bandwidth and server resources. The result: CloudFlare-powered websites see a significant improvement in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.
On average, a website on CloudFlare:
Loads twice as fast,
uses 60% less bandwidth,
has 65% fewer requests and
is way more secure."
With that being said, that isn't the reason why I'm mentioning using CloudFlare to help with your DNS.
As you will see in the video walkthrough below, the main reason for using CloudFlare (the free package will suffice) is because it makes managing your DNS and making future changes to it a whole lot easier than using your domain registrar or web host.
You'll find yourself less error prone, and experiencing less delays in DNS propagation etc. Also, it means that if you do something wrong, you're not stuck waiting 24 hours for your website to return. In a matter of 30 seconds you can undo your changes and they will be live. That's why when it comes to setting up email/domain authentication (and any other third party services you use that require DNS adjustments) I would recommend just placing everything into CloudFlare.
So when you have some time go ahead and sign up to CloudFlare, migrate all your existing DNS records there, and make sure you point your nameservers to the ones CloudFlare will allocate for you (otherwise, nothing will work).
Authenticating Your Google Apps Email
If you're using Google Apps to manage your email which it seems like most companies are these days, then it's important you first start off by enabling domain authentication.
To do this, log into your Admin panel located at http://admin.google.com > click on apps > select Google Apps > choose Gmail > scroll down to where it says 'Authenticate Email' and press that.
If you aren't provided with a DKIM/TXT record by default, press generate new record, and then the take key that Google provides you with and add it to your DNS as a TXT record. If you're using CloudFlare it shouldn't be very difficult.
Once that has been added, go back to Google and press 'Start Authentication'. It will verify that you have set up your DNS correctly and start authenticating your emails.
Woo! Congratulations, you just got the first step out of the way. Take five, and I'll be here when you come back.
Note: If you are unsure about something, Google provides official documentation on how to setup DKIM authentication here.
Setting Up SPF
Next we want to 'sign' your domain/emails by enabling SPF. It's a pretty simple process, just add the following TXT record to your DNS.
v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all
Google provides a full breakdown about what to do below. Take note of how they recommend enabling SPF if you have it on multiple domains.
Authenticating With SendGrid & GuessBox
Now if you want to start sending emails with GuessBox, at this point in time SendGrid will be email service provider (ESP) that we will be integrating with.
All this means is that the process we completed above with Google Apps, we are going to do the same thing with SendGrid (you can use your Google Apps email).
Authenticating with SendGrid is much the same, the only difference is, they will provide slightly different information for you to add into your DNS.
To begin, log into SendGrid > click on settings from the left hand navigation bar > choose Whitelabels. You'll be presented with another run down of the benefits of signing/authenticating/white labeling your domain.
Once you've had a read of that, press 'Add Domain' and follow the prompts. SendGrid will give you some CNAME records to add into your DNS.
Once everything is verified, and validated. Go back to the same page and click on 'Add Email Link'. Once again, follow the prompts and enter in the CNAME records provided into your DNS.