Troubleshooting failed email delivery from DMARC

If your ActiveCampaign account is experiencing a high volume of bounces for correct email addresses, or, if your email messages are not being received by contacts, it may be due to how your Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance Policy (DMARC) is set up with your Doman Name System provider (DNS).

What is DMARC?

A DMARC policy is an extra security layer for your outbound email messages that tells the recipient's email server what to do with the message if it fails those security checks. It can also be configured to send you reports about your mailings. The policy has three different configuration options -  none,   quarantine, and reject.

A policy of  none means that email servers should treat email that fails DMARC checks as if it did not have DMARC configured, but you can still take advantage of DMARC's reporting features.

A policy of  quarantine means that email servers should put emails in the spam folder that don't pass DMARC checks.

A policy of  reject means that email servers should bounce emails that don't pass DMARC checks — the recipient won't even have the opportunity to see the message.

Most companies use DMARC to add extra security to their email communications when they have concerns that their official email communications might be spoofed by hackers — the banking industry uses DMARC to protect their customers from phishing emails pretending to be the bank.

If you are using DMARC with ActiveCampaign, you need to set up DKIM as well in order to pass the DMARC checks. Otherwise, the DMARC policy you have set up can cause your own emails to go to the spam folder, or be rejected entirely.

How to fix the issue

To see if your DMARC policy is causing failed email delivery, we recommend checking it with the DKIM, SPF, and DMARC verification tool.

Once you have the tool open, type your domain into the field provided and click the "Enter" button.

Your results for DKIM, SPF, and DMARC will display. In addition, you'll see tips on what you can do to resolve any issues. For example, a failed DMARC check can look like this when using the DKIM, SPF, and DMARC verification tool:

Failed DMARC message

The error message says:

"You have a p=reject or p=quarantine DMARC record and you have not setup DKIM. This means all your mail from ActiveCampaign will most likely bounce unless you have successfully setup DKIM. Either setup DKIM for this domain, or change the policy in your DMARC record to p=none

Your actual DMARC record is:

v=DMARC1; p=reject"

To fix the issue, you can take any one of the following actions:

  • Change your DMARC record with your DNS to have a p=none policy
    The DMARC error message above has a p=reject or p=quarantine. This means that all emails that fail DMARC will be sent to the Spam folder. To make sure messages are delivered even if DMARC fails, you will want to change the policy in your DMARC to p=none with your DNS provider.

    Here is a quick video walkthrough of that process:

 

  • Set up DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) authentication
    Setting up a DKIM email authentication record is required in order for your messages to pass DMARC. What DKIM does is "vouch" for any email you send from ActiveCampaign. This, in turn, helps you pass the DMARC policy check.

    To set up DKIM, you'll need to select the "I will manage my own email authentication" option on the Settings > Advanced page in your ActiveCampaign account. Then, you will need to enter your domain name into the DKIM field provided and click the "Generate" button. We'll then display a TXT record name and TXT record value that you can copy then paste into the DNS record you have setup with your web host. See the "How do I remove the 'Sent on behalf of' header?" help article for a step by step guide on managing your own email authentication.

    Here is a quick video walkthrough of that process:

More information

Aside from DMARC, there are other reasons that can explain why your email bounced or was routed to spam. Below are additional resources you can use to help troubleshoot email bounces and the spam folder.

Email Bounces

A message can bounce if the recipient's email address no longer exists (hard bounce) or their inbox is full (soft bounce). Read the "What is a bounce and how can I prevent them" help article to learn more about bounces.

Emails sent to the spam folder

Emails can be routed to or marked as spam if contacts consistently don't open your messages or if the unsubscribe link is hard to find in your email. Read the "Why is my email going to the spam folder?" help article to learn more.

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