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IMPORTANT CAVEAT TO THE ABOVE VIDEO — 

If you got a result like this, YOU DIDN’T ACTUALLY PASS.

So there I was, happily (and slowly) making a whole mini-course about metrics and deliverability — it’s called the Deliverability Toolkit, and you will not believe how cute my little Ninja mascot is with all his tools. 😍

(If you want to know when the Deliverability Toolkit is ready — and you should, because what you’re about to read is just a small piece of the puzzle — make sure you’re signed up for the Newsletter Ninja mailing list.)

That course was on pace to drop in March or April … and then along came Gmail (and Yahoo tagging along behind) to mess up my grand plan.

This page, long as it is, is like 15% of what’s in the course. I’m annoyed at having to present it devoid of context.

But here we are, with one single piece of the deliverability puzzle suddenly having reached emergency status, so there’s nothing to be done. You’ve got to be aware of this now.

Starting in February 2024, Gmail will require bulk email senders to:

  • fully authenticate their emails
  • enable easy unsubscription
  • stay under a specified spam threshold


These measures aim to verify sender identity, help subscribers reduce unwanted commercial emails, and limit spam, with the intent to improve overall email security and user experience.
If you are not compliant, you will have a much greater — perhaps 100% — chance of your emails going to Spam.

For more details, you can read Google’s full blog post here.
If you really want to get in the weeds with it, you can read the more techy details here.

If you’d just like to get the problem solved, since the Deliverability Toolbox isn’t ready (and yes I’m pissed at Gmail for messing up my plans), you can read my friend Caro Bégin’s excellent explanation here.

It’s long, but so what? This stuff is complicated and important; not everything can be the length of a social media caption. The good news is, she’s managed to explain it in a way that is as accessible as you really can be when discussing things like DNS zones and propagation and so on. And even her long-ass page is still like 30% of what’s in the Deliverability Toolkit. 

~ le sigh ~

Anyway, go ahead and give it a read.

No, seriously — go read it.

Jeopardy theme…

Now that you’ve read that, let me say this: I personally do not recommend that you set your DMARC to “quarantine” or “reject” right now. (Everyone should, but I don’t think you should right now.) The reason for this is very complicated — and that’s why I’m making an entire course about deliverability — but the very short version is that unless you can fully align your domain and you know that you’ve done that correctly, too many or possibly all of your emails will divert to quarantine or get rejected.

One email marketing service that makes it very easy to do domain alignment is Mailerlite — I’ll show you that in just a minute — but some are more difficult, and some can only be done on higher-priced plans that aren’t needed or practical for authors (I’m looking at you, ActiveCampaign).

And what I simply can’t stress enough here is that, counter to my normal relaxed “none of this is an emergency” stance on all things newsletters, doing this wrong can literally break your email setup — or, worse, break your entire website. Mucking around in your DNS is Varsity shit, not JV.

I’ve pulled together some screen captures of where to find the authentication values in various email marketing services, and where to find the DNS settings in various hosting dashboards. This is not comprehensive. I did the best I could with the interfaces I knew I had easy access to, either through my own accounts or through current clients. If your EMS and/or host isn’t represented below, find the images that most closely match with what you see in your dashboard and see if you can find the analogous areas in which you should be copy or pasting your values. It’s not too hard to figure it out, jsut go slow and be careful!

All that said, please don’t email me to ask me how to do it. I don’t say this to be rude; I say it because I am absolutely swamped with literally hundreds of emails asking me to help with this, and I haven’t even completed it for all my paying clients yet. All the info you need is in this post and/or Caro’s post, but if you need specific guidance for your specific dashboard, you may have to use your network, a search engine, or customer service. 💕

For any combination of  softwares below, you’ll be working back and forth between your EMS dash, your email, and the DNS area of your hosting dashboard (or your nameservers, if you manage DNS there). Links to the various screenshots are as follows:

DNS Area Screenshots

  • Bluehost
  • ChemiCloud (This will be useful for anyone whose host uses CPanel.)
  • GoDaddy
  • SiteGround
  • WordPress.com (This is for people who pay WordPress.com for hosting, NOT for self-hosted WordPress installs with a hosting provider like Bluehost, Siteground, etc.)

EMS SCREENSHOTS


New Mailerlite:

1. Click Account Settings.
2. Click Domains.

A. You should already have the Verification piece sorted; if not, you need to do that first.
B. Then you do the Authentication, which means copy/pasting some values from this Mailerlite dash into the DNS area of your hosting dashboard (or your nameservers, if you manage DNS there). This is the most sensible time to add your DMARC value as well, even though it’s not one of the values ML gives you, since you’re already editing the DNS records.
C. Then you do domain alignment, since you can’t pass DMARC if at least one of the SPF/DKIM isn’t aligned. (DKIM is most important but full alignment is always better for deliverability.)


Old Mailerlite:

1. Click the little arrow to access the dropdown menu.
2. Click Domains.

A. You should already have the Verification piece sorted; if not, you need to do that first.
B. Then you do the Authentication, which means copy/pasting some values from this Mailerlite dash into the DNS area of your hosting dashboard (or your nameservers, if you manage DNS there). This is the most sensible time to add your DMARC value as well, even though it’s not one of the values ML gives you, since you’re already editing the DNS records.
C. Then you should really do domain alignment, since Mailerlite makes it so freaking easy and it really boosts deliverability, but you don’t have to if you’re setting DMARC to “none” anyway.


ConvertKit:

1. Click the little arrow to access the dropdown menu.
2. Click Settings.

1. Create the three records listed and copy in the names and values shown.
2. Click the Validate button. 


Drip

1. Click Settings.
2. Click Email setup.
3. Next to Sending Domain, click Open.

Click Add New Sending Domain (or click to edit an existing one).

1. Choose Send emails from another domain I own (or choose the other radio button to work with an existing domain).
2. Click Next.

1. Each of the records listed here will need to be created or edited in the DNS area of your hosting dashboard (or your nameservers, if you manage DNS there).
2. Use the Check again button to see if the results have propagated yet. Eventually, you’ll get this:

Good job, you! Further good news is, once you’ve done all of these, you will be in full alignment. Thanks, Drip!

DNS SCREENSHOTS


Bluehost

Bluehost recently “updated” their dashboard, but only for some people, and frankly the update only made it harder to find things. If you are on Bluehost, the quickest way to find your DNS records is to just log in to Bluehost and then copy paste the following URL, but substitute your own domain:

bluehost.com/my-account/domain-center/dns-details?domain=yourdomain.com

So, for example, if I had my DNS records at Bluehost, I would go to this URL:

bluehost.com/my-account/domain-center/dns-details?domain=newsletterninja.net

Again, log in to Bluehost first, otherwise you will get redirected to a login page or possibly even a 404 page.

Once you’re in the right place, it will look like this:

Bluehost segregates your DNS records by type, which is nice because it makes any individual record easier to find than scrolling through a list of them all jumbled together. All the sections are expanded when you land on the page though, which is annoying. You can expand or collapse them using the little arrows on the right side. Bluehost is one that uses an @ symbol for the root domain, so be aware that you’ll see that instead of your main domain in some spots.

If you are authenticating, you want your record to look like this:

If you are doing alignment or creating your DMARC record, you want your record to look like this:

 


ChemiCloud

Not a lot of folks I know are using ChemiCloud specifically, but many hosts use Cpanel so if you find yourself having to change your DNS records in CPanel, this series is for you. (These screenshots are actually from Caro, bless her!)

Find a link that says “Log into Cpanel” or something similar:

Once in the CPanel, scroll down to Zone Editor:

Next to your domain name, click Manage (or create a new record using the correct button):

For Dmarc, for example, create a TXT record:

And then fill in the Name and Value (here it goes in the field called “Record”):


GoDaddy

1:

2:

3:

4:


Siteground

1. Click on Domain.
2. Click on DNS Zone Editor.
3. You can create new records using the links in the horizontal menu.
4. You can edit existing records using the edit (pencil) symbol next to existing records.


WordPress.com

1. Settings > Hosting configuration

2. Domains > Add a record (or use the 3 dots at the right to edit an existing record)

3. Enter the info (note that the top-level domain is already present to the right of the field where you can enter a subdomain; you do not need to add anything if you’re just authenticating the top-level domain) and click Add DNS record.


To recap:

I really suggest you do the bare minimum and set your DMARC to “none” — this will make you compliant, and that may have to be enough for right now.

And if you’re interested in the Deliverability Toolkit, which will walk you through the much more difficult points of all this and get you not just compliant but secure, which is inarguably better, don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter Ninja mailing list.

Was this helpful to you?
It took me many hours, so if you have a couple of bucks to spare, consider buying me a Ko-Fi as a thank-you.