What are SPF records and why do they help with email deliverability?

SPF record is an abbreviation for Sender Policy Framework record.  The SPF is a type of DNS record.  It is how you control who (what servers) is authorized to send email on behalf of your domain name.

Email is such a simple protocol that anyone can send email pretending to be from anyone – spoofing.  However, because this loophole was immediately adopted by criminals for nefarious purposes, email service providers began to automatically reject  unidentified emails.  In practice, this means a hard bounce, a soft bounce, or going into the spam folder.

Whether you’re sending email from Google Mail, Outlook, Mailchimp, Amazon Simple Email Service, or another solution entirely, having SPF records in place will improve your email delivery.

Here’s how we add SPF records for a domain:

  1. Search your email provider’s help page for the term “SPF”.  For example, here is Google’s page if you’re using hosted Google Mail
  2. Your email provider will advise you a TXT record to add to your DNS in order to authorize them to send email on behalf of your domain.  For example, “v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all” is the SPF record to authorize Google.  For MailChimp, it’s “v=spf1 include:servers.mcsv.net ?all“.

    Note: If you’re using Google for Mail and then MailChimp for Marketing, you can combine the two into a single SPF record: “v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com include:servers.mcsv.net ~all”

  3. Go to your DNS provider and add the TXT record.  We recommend CloudFlare for DNS, because they provide a slew of benefits, such as https/SSL and even their Free plan is really powerful.

That’s it!  It may take a few minutes for your email service provider to confirm the SPF record but in a worst case scenario, it could take a whole day, so we recommend being proactive with setting up SPF records.