This article goes over something you might have missed when you set up your MailChimp account. Learn how to make more professional looking newsletters by authenticating your domain. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I will break it down into easy steps and include screenshots.
This was not a post that was on my radar to write at all. This came about because I am new to terms like domain authentication and DKIM and SPF records. I found setting this up a little confusing myself. It didn’t take too long to figure out but I thought I would write a post with pictures to hopefully simplify the process for anyone new to this who could use some help.
Let’s backtrack a little!
I decided to use MailChimp for my newsletters for The Curious Frugal. It seems like a great option since it has a lot of functionality and is free when you have less than 2000 subscribers. This is perfect if you’re just starting out. If you have a free account with MailChimp you don’t have access to any of the email or chat support to ask your questions.
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A quick explanation of why you would want to authenticate your domain
There are two main reasons why you would want to authenticate your domain when you’re using MailChimp to send newsletters.
- To look more professional. With some simple changes, the newsletters will appear to come from www.yourwebsite.com instead of from MailChimp servers.
- To help ensure that emails from you end up in your readers’ inboxes, instead of in their spam or junk folder.
Email authentication protects you and your recipients from spam, phishing, and forgery. It is included with MailChimp automatically even if you don’t set anything up, but it will show the default setting. If you don’t authenticate your domain, emails from you to your readers will have the MailChimp default “on behalf of mcsv.net” next to your From name in your campaign with certain email providers.
What this could look like for me:
The Curious Frugal Newsletter firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of mcsv.net
For myself, I would prefer my emails not display with that trailing ‘on behalf of’. If you would prefer having more professional looking newsletters, keep reading.
We will be working with two types of email authentication: DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework). These are the two things we’re going to configure below. This article is not going into all the nitty gritty of what those are, I want to keep this post as simple as possible, even if we’re getting a little techy.
Now that we know the why, let’s talk about how we do this. Since I use Bluehost as my web host (because they are awesome!), this is what I will show in the screen shots down below.
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Steps to authenticate your domain in Bluehost for MailChimp
Log into your MailChimp account. Click on your name in the upper right corner of the screen, and choose Account from the drop down menu. Under Settings, click on Domains.
Where is says Authentication, click on View setup instructions. A box will pop up for Domain Authentication. This is what mine looks like:
Keep this open while you open another tab for Bluehost and log in to Bluehost.
In Bluehost click on Domains, and then Zone Editor.
For DKIM, for the Type field, first choose CNAME from the drop down menu.
In the Host Record field, enter k1._domainkey.yourwebsite.com – using your actual website name there. You can copy and paste from the MailChimp box you have open. For the Points To field you will enter dkim.mcsv.net. Don’t change anything for the TTL field, keep what is already there.
For SPF, it will be a little different. MailChimp recommends you don’t add another TXT record for SPF. We won’t use the same method as with DKIM because we won’t be adding a record, we will modify one that already exists. Scroll down the page to the TXT (Text) table.
It will look like this:
You will modify the row that has an entry of ‘@’ for the Host Record. Click on the edit symbol under ACTION. You will only be changing theTXT Value field. Don’t delete anything here but copy and paste include:servers.mcsv.net ?all, adding it to the end of whatever is already written in this text field. Under ACTION, now click on Save. Great! Head back over to your MailChimp page that you kept open.
Go back to that Domain Authentication box in MailChimp. Now click on the Authenticate Domain button.
That should do it! MailChimp says that it could take 1-2 days for the changes to take place. In my case it took just a few minutes but if it takes longer for you, don’t worry.
When it’s complete, your page should now look similar to this (with your website name) with a check mark next to Authentication:
You did it! Now you are set up and ready to go and your emails will look like they are coming directly from you. More emails will end up in your readers’ inboxes, instead of their spam/junk folder.
If you’re not quite at this point yet, but are interested in starting a blog, you can check out my tutorial here.
You can save this article for later, to revisit after you have set up your own blog!