What is DMARC?

DMARC, which stands for domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance, is a process for authenticating emails. It helps fight against spam and fake messages.

DMARC checks that the person sending emails from a certain email domain is really who they claim to be and not a scammer.

A DMARC policy is a set of rules for how to handle emails that don’t pass DMARC authentication. 

The policy options are:

➡️ None (p=none)  instructs email servers to do nothing special with emails that don’t pass DMARC. It is mostly used to watch and collect data without changing how emails are delivered.

➡️ Quarantine (p=quarantine) moves emails that fail DMARC to the spam folder instead of the inbox.

➡️ Reject (p=reject) is the strictest rule. It makes the email server completely reject emails that don’t pass DMARC. These emails won’t be delivered at all.

What is a DMARC fail and why does it happen?

A DMARC fail happens when an email doesn’t pass DMARC authentication. 

This happens due to issues like domain alignment, where the sender’s domain in the ‘From’ address doesn’t match those in SPF and DKIM records, or if an email fails either SPF or DKIM authentication.

As an example, the email ‘From’ address is [email protected], so the email should be sent from the ‘example.com’ domain. But, in the SPF and DKIM records (which are like security checks), a different domain is listed, like ‘mailservice.com.’

So there is an SPF record mismatch and also a DKIM mismatch.

For SPF: If ‘example.com’ is supposed to send emails from certain places, but this email comes from a place linked to ‘mailservice.com,’ it doesn’t match and fails the SPF check.

For DKIM: If an email has a DKIM signature from ‘mailservice.com’ but says it’s from ‘example.com,’ this mismatch also causes a problem.

In this case, an email fails the security checks.

Errors in DMARC DNS records can also lead to such failures. When an email fails DMARC authentication, it’s often directed to the spam folder or rejected, depending on the domain’s policy. 

How to know if you had a DMARC failure happen?

There are a few signs that show your message failed DMARC authentication:

👉 You get DMARC reports that indicate failures. These reports are sent by email receivers and contain information about emails that pass or fail DMARC authentication.

👉 There are bounce-back messages or notifications about delivery issues.

👉 Emails are marked as spam or not delivered. Email headers will often contain information about DKIM and SPF authentication results, which are part of the DMARC authentication checks.

👉 You’ll get notified by DMARC monitoring if you use those. They can analyze your email traffic and alert you of any DMARC failures.

TIP:  Monitor and analyze DMARC reports regularly.

What is the DMARC record?

It’s a type of DNS TXT record for a domain. It controls what happens if a message doesn’t pass authentication, so when the recipient server can’t confirm that the sender is who they claim to be.

The DMARC record has two main functions:

#1 It tells the recipient server what to do with emails that don’t pass the check. Options include quarantining the message, rejecting it, or allowing it to continue to the recipient.

#2 It sends reports to specified email addresses with data about all the messages sent from that domain. Reporting helps the domain owner track and analyze mail-sending practices, and address any DMARC fails.

How to fix a DMARC fail – three main ways

DMARC fail might occur even if you take steps to avoid these failures from happening. 

In this case, there are three main ways that might help you fix a DMARC failure.

#1 Set up SPF and DKIM authentication

SPF (sender policy framework) is a part of email authentication that helps in preventing spam. So make sure it’s ready. It verifies the sender’s IP address against the DNS record. 

Also, check the DKIM setup – if emails have the correct DKIM signature and match with the DNS record. It’s an important step for DKIM authentication and DMARC compliance.

📰 See the top 5 email spam checker tools to keep your inbox clean.

#2 Change your DMARC policy

Sometimes, changing your DMARC policy helps. The options are:

  • reject
  • quarantine
  • none. 

Setting it to ‘none’ means emails will still get to inboxes even if they fail DMARC. 

But remember, ‘none’ is not the safest, so it’s better as a short-term fix​.

#3 Regularly review and update DMARC records and policies

Keep an eye on the reports for any signs of DMARC fail errors. They provide post-delivery message details that can help you resolve DMARC failures.

Try to spot any common issues in these reports. Figure out why some emails are failing. Is it because of SPF or DKIM issues, or maybe something about the domain?

If your DMARC issues are tied to SPF and DKIM, it’s important to fix them. For SPF, make sure to list all the IP addresses that are authorized to send emails on your behalf. And for DKIM, check that your emails are correctly signed with the right digital signature, and verify that the DNS has the correct DKIM information. 

Another way to prevent a DMARC fail from happening 

Email validation is checking that you’re sending emails to real, valid addresses. It’s also one of the ways to prevent a DMARC fail from happening

On top of it, email validation helps maintain a good reputation for your email campaigns and makes your email messages land in the intended recipient’s inbox.

First, you validate your email addresses before sending any messages. This reduces the risk of your emails failing DMARC checks. 

DMARC fails often occur when emails are sent to invalid or non-existent addresses. So it’s better to remove these addresses and make your email list updated.

To check if addresses on your list are valid, you need an email validation tool. 

And here, Bouncer can help.

You can fix dmarc failure with Bouncer email validation

Bouncer checks if email addresses are deliverable without sending an actual email. It verifies the syntax of an email, runs DNS and MX record checks, and establishes a connection with the recipient’s server SMTP. 

Bouncer is very easy to use. There are only three steps to take:

STEP 1: First, sign up for Bouncer. You can start verifying the first 100 free email for free. It allows you to experience Bouncer’s capabilities, like email verification, integrations, toxicity checks, and deliverability kit.

STEP 2: Upload your email list to the platform. This is done easily by dragging and dropping your list onto the platform. 

STEP 3: Let Bouncer do the work. The platform’s powerful email checker starts verifying the syntax of emails and employs proprietary algorithms supported by artificial intelligence to ensure the most accurate results.

Bouncer shows that you have invalid email addresses through its email verification reports. The invalid email addresses are marked or categorized in the reports, so it’s easy for you to identify and remove them from your list. 

Key takeaways:

  • Using tools like Bouncer to check if email addresses are real before sending helps a lot. It lowers the chance of DMARC issues and makes your email campaigns perform better.
  • DMARC (domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance) allows verifying that the sender of an email is legitimate, and helps to prevent getting spam.
  • A common reason for DMARC failure is domain misalignment and errors in DMARC DNS records.
  • Check and update DMARC, SPF, and DKIM settings regularly. You’ll avoid DMARC problems and keep your emails secure.

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Conclusions on fixing DMARC fail

DMARC is your first line of defense against of spam and phishing, so keep DMARC, SPF, and DKIM records in tip-top shape. 

Tools like Bouncer are invaluable companion – it lets you validate email addresses with no effort. You’ll get better email deliverability, plus you’ll have stronger DMARC defenses.

Sign up for Bouncer today! Start for free, with 100 credits for a good start!

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