We love Mailchimp as much as the next marketing agency does – it’s an incredible automation platform that allows us to storytell on behalf of our clients and ourselves. (Not to mention: their company culture and customer service are unparalleled… what other email marketing program sends you gifts during the holiday season just for being a valued customer?)
But if you’re like us, you’ve probably been met with frustration and confusion when your carefully curated emails receive low open rates. This is likely because your campaigns are being rerouted to your subscribers’ junk folders instead of their inboxes.
So why don’t Mailchimp newsletters land in inboxes 100% of the time? Are there settings that can improve the delivery process, or are we all out of luck?
With some help from an account rep at Mailchimp, we dug around and discovered a new aspect of Mailchimp we hadn’t utilized before: domain verification AND authentication.
Step 1: Domain Verification
Domain verification is a must-know, email best practice. Whenever you sign your company or organization up for an account with Mailchimp, you have to verify that the email address you plan on sending your campaigns from matches the domain of your website. This first step is crucial and helps safeguard your domain so that others can’t use your details to send emails on your behalf or without your permission. Plus…
You only need to verify a domain one time, then you can send with any email address at the verified domain.” – Mailchimp
So, since we verified firstname.lastname@example.org as an email address associated with loacom.com, anyone from our team can send a Mailchimp campaign with ease as long as their email address ends in ‘@loacom.com’.
The sneaky follow-up to domain verification, email domain authentication, is where we struck gold.
Step 2: Domain Authentication
Email domain authentication (also known as Domainkeys Identified Mail [DKIM]) “help[s] your emails reach your recipients’ inboxes.” By authenticating your domain, you’re giving your emails the power to get through tricky spam filters, which will make way for better open and click-through rates from your client base.
Plainly put, we’ve seen night and day differences with campaign performance before and after authentication, not to mention more accurate metrics being referenced within the reports.” – Mailchimp
Unless you feel comfortable editing the DNS records of your own domain, you will have to work with a web developer to make the authentication step happen.
Here’s a play-by-play of how our own web wizard did it:
First, login to your Mailchimp account and navigate to Website > Domains. Here you’ll see all the email domains that are either verified, in progress, or authenticated. You’ll want to see a green ‘Authenticated’ button next to your domain to ensure your emails are delivering properly. A blue ‘Verified’ button indicates you’ve still got step 2 to tackle!
Next, click on ‘Start Authentication’.
Select the domain provider your site is hosted on from the dropdown menu. Then click next.
Navigate to your domain provider and find the option to edit DNS records (this will look different for every domain – the screenshots shown below are for Cloudflare).
Once you’re in DNS settings, click ‘Add Record’.
Navigate back to Mailchimp to find the CNAME records provided. Copy the first Host Domainkey (CNAME 1).
Go back to your domain server and paste the copied text into the Name field provided. Repeat this step for the ‘Points to’ field on Mailchimp and paste it into the Target field on your domain. (Cloudflare tip: you’ll want to toggle the Proxy Status to ‘DNS only’ for better optimization).
Be sure to repeat that process for the CNAME 2 record, also provided by Mailchimp.
Once completed, it will take Mailchimp anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours to confirm your authentication. After that, it’s happy sending! For those of you who are scroll happy, here’s the TLDR; if your client uses Mailchimp, check ASAP if they are both verified and authenticated, and if not, get on it for better open rate results.
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