Why should you care about DMARC?

What the heck is DMARC?

Before we get to that, let’s talk about spoofing. The widely-known definition of a "spoof" is an over-the-top imitation of someone or something to get a laugh. But it’s a little different in the world of email.

Have you ever received an email in your inbox that says “sent on behalf of”? If so, this was a "spoofed" email – as in, not really physically sent from that person’s email address. These emails are usually legitimate. Most are probably marketing emails from companies you had shown interest in at some point. The emails are considered to be spoofed because they are sent through mass-sending services, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, that send email on behalf of their customers, and don’t come directly from the company (that is, the company’s email servers) who want to send the emails.

But another more malicious example of spoofing could look a bit like this:


At the Mandela Memorial, the impostor interpreter seemed like he was who he said he was and that he knew what he was doing. But to someone who actually knows sign language, his signing is ridiculous, offensive... and a little bit hilarious.

However, the reality of what some spoofers do is anything but funny.

This second form of spoofing happens when you receive an email that appears to be from someone you know, but is not really from that sender. The content of the message may seem suspicious or out of character for that sender. It may contain a call-to-action like “click this link” or “call this number.” If you click the link, it may install a virus on your computer. And if you call the number, they may try to get personal information that they could use to steal your identity.

This example is one of the reasons that DMARC was created.

So back to the original question – What is DMARC? DMARC is short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance.

The key word here is ‘authentication’. Basically, DMARC is a mechanism that has been put in place to protect YOU the sender of email. It helps prevent someone from successfully spoofing your email address.

How does DMARC affect you?

If you’re an email marketer and you use a third-party email service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc. and if your email address is an aol.com, yahoo.com, or gmail.com address, listen up!

As of June 2016, AOL, Yahoo, and Gmail are all enforcing DMARC.

Your marketing emails sent through Constant Contact or MailChimp probably will not make it into the recipient’s inbox. Here’s why: Most third-party email marketing systems (like MailChimp or Constant Contact) “spoof” or send email on your behalf.

The message says it’s fromyou@gmail.com when it’s actually being sent from MailChimp’s or Constant Contact’s domain and server (i.e. not Gmail, where your email is hosted). If DMARC is enforced by the domain in your “From” address, the message will be rejected, bounced, or quarantined depending on the policy.

Most email marketing services try to tackle this problem in various ways. Which are often complicated and technical for the typical self-marketer (without the support of an IT staff).

But that’s where Outstand comes in…

How Outstand tackles the DMARC problem.

We know that most people don’t have a savvy IT staff to lean on when it comes to solving this problem, so we opted for a simpler solution.

We took two approaches:

  1. We allow you to send to smaller lists through your own email server (via ‘Email Delivery Boost’ which you can set up in your Outstand Profile. These messages are sent to your recipients from your email account on your server. Thus eliminating spoofing.
  2. When Outstand sends to your contact lists, we automagically figure out if your email domain enforces DMARC. If so, we set your From address to <Your.Name.at.gmail.com@outstand.com> so that the From address domain matches the sending domain. Again, eliminating spoofing. Also, when the email is delivered to your recipient's inbox, the From address appears in their email client as a recognized sender.

DMARC and any issues that come with it have become part of the email marketing world, and Outstand is here to help you get your messages to your recipients every time.

Check out Outstand Engineering for more info about the Dev Team and how they keep things up and running!