What are DKIM, SPF, and DMARC?

All about these records and why they're critical for email deliverability

Updated over a week ago

DKIM, SPF and DMARC are a set of email authentication records used by the email industry to help email recipients identify the authenticity of an email and its origin. When you define these records for your custom domain, you significantly decrease the likelihood of your email being marked as spam or rejected.

📣 Note

If you use HoneyBook’s default email sending service, no need to be concerned about DKIM, SPF, or DMARC because HoneyBook handles this for you.

If you integrate your email with HoneyBook and that email uses a custom domain (e.g. @yourbusinessname.com) and not a generic name (e.g. @gmail.com), you should define DKIM, SPF and DMARC records with your custom domain provider.

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

This security protocol signs every email sent from your domain with a public key, so that the servers of those receiving your email can validate that the email was sent and authorized by you.

In other words, DKIM is like putting a unique stamp on all your letters. It helps prove that the email came from you and wasn’t changed along the way.

DKIM records are TXT records. A DKIM record includes both a TXT record name and TXT record value that contains the DKIM key. Both the record name and record value should be generated by your email provider and then added to the Domain Name System (DNS) settings of your domain provider.

Here is an example* of a DKIM record name and record value:

  • Name: mail._domainkey.example.com

  • Value: v=DKIM1; p=36E374F292D293747382EEEEBF3834720374CKAHEH23JLUHRWORHQ23EERS9FHK

*Do not use the above DKIM record—this is just an example.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

This security protocol defines a list of IP addresses that are permitted to send emails from your domain name.

In other words, think of SPF like a VIP list for your party (your email domain)—it tells email servers which guests (mail servers) are allowed to send emails from your domain. When you send an email, the receiving server checks your domain’s SPF record to make sure the email is coming from a server on your VIP list. If it is, great! If not, it might mark the email as spam.

SPF records are TXT records that store information about your domain. SPF records will look different depending on how you configure them to behave.

Here is an example* of what an SPF record can look like:

  • v=spf1 include:_spf.website.com ~all

*Do not use the above SPF record—this is just an example.

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, & Conformance (DMARC)

This security protocol builds upon SPF and DKIM by providing a way for email recipients to determine if an email message is legitimate, fraudulent, or suspicious.

In other words, you can think of DMARC as the boss that takes the rules from SPF and DKIM and decides what to do if the rules aren’t followed. It’s like setting house rules for what happens if someone crashes the party.

DMARC records are TXT records that incorporate both DKIM and SPF. Prior to setting up DMARC, you will need to make sure DKIM and SPF are set up for your domain.

Here is an example* of a DMARC policy record:

*Do not use the above DMARC record for your domain—this is just an example.

Next steps

Define DKIM, SPF, and DMARC

Effective February 2024, Google and Yahoo will be implementing stricter requirements for any businesses or entities that send commercial emails, in an effort to reduce email spam. Both platforms have already been blocking senders who have high spam complaints or missing domain records.

You can learn how to define these records here.

Check your DKIM and SPF records using HoneyBook's domain tester

Start by verifying your email authentication through HoneyBook's DKIM and SPF domain tester. If the authentication fails, it’s crucial to follow the steps in the domain tester to update these records, as your emails are likely to go to spam otherwise. After verifying your DKIM and SPF, you can also check your DMARC settings to make sure it’s set properly as well.

Still have questions? Feel free to send us a message by clicking the Question Mark icon on any HoneyBook page. Our team is always happy to help!

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