Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Just like the unknown visitor in a knock, knock joke, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can be leery of who is trying to contact their users’ inboxes. While it is important to focus on IP reputation, ISPs also look for consistency in domain use. Sending an email from an unauthorized domain can come across as suspicious and might affect delivery rates. Many ISPs are known to pay close attention to domains to identify trusted brands from spammers.

A great way to help combat deliverability issues is through delegated and authenticated domains. Delegated and authenticated domains serve two distinct roles, yet the same domain can be utilized for both roles. In most cases, companies use a subdomain, since the parent domain is dedicated to the website — subdomains also keep a level of brand recognition from email to e-comm.

Delegated domains are used for image and link wrapping. Instead of links appearing to come from the sending email platform, links will be wrapped (“branded”) to appear as if they are coming straight from the company. This helps receiving ISPs and subscribers recognize the legitimacy of the email content, since link sources tie back to the company’s brand. Generally only a single domain can be delegated, so it’s important to decide on the best overarching branding objective if multiple sending email address domains will be used.

Brian C_Domain Delegation_1 Link wrapped in standard ExactTarget brand

Brian C_Domain Delegation_2 Links branded for GoPro

Authenticated domains are used to verify the sending email address. Using an unauthenticated email address can come off as suspicious to receiving ISPs — it can appear as if a spammer is trying to impersonate a brand since the sending email address isn’t authorized for the IP address. By authenticating a domain, the link is completed and verified to ISPs that the sending email address is allowed to send on behalf of the IP address. Multiple domains can be authenticated depending on how many sending email address are going to be utilized.

Brian C_Domain Delegation_3

As a bonus, domain authentication also has the added benefit of linking the company’s Google+ accounts to the email that is opened in Gmail. Gmail is able to recognize when an authorized domain is utilized that matches a verified Google+ account, and will display the related page beside the opened email.

Brian C_Domain Delegation_4

Domain delegation and authentication is just one ingredient in the deliverability rate chili pot. Cara Olson, DEG’s director of direct marketing and eCRM, wrote a great post highlighting some of the different factors that were covered at EEC15. It takes a rounded approach to ensure the highest deliverability rates possible, and controlling as many factors — like domain delegation and authentication — will sway ISPs towards favorable results.

Orange you glad you learned more about domain delegation and authentication?

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