SPF, DKIM, EXIM… WTH?

Whew… It’s been a loooooong night.  It’s 9:30am and I haven’t been to bed yet.  Not terribly uncommon… but this is probably the 3rd time in the past week it’s happened.  Uggh.

Why this time?

I’ve slowly been moving off my GetResponse account and onto my own mail serving platform (i2icontact.com).  It’s been a long, slow process.  I’ve owned i2icontact.com for *years* and never really got it much past logging in.

But I finally went live with a new list on it last week.  And it was a smashing… headache.

The deliverability was abysmal.  If you bought Site Sniper Pro from me last week you know what I’m talking about.  It didn’t seem like my emails were getting through to *anybody*.

If I had any hair to pull out it would be gone by now.

So I  kept the list on my server and outsourced the smtp sending portion of it, thinking that would make a difference.  Not really.

So I got really serious about it last night and was determined to solve the deliverability issue (at least to the extent that it’s reasonable again).

And that led me down a crazy path of emerging standards and security and authentication and hassles and triumphs that everyone wants to know about… but it seems like very few ever figure out.

Now, I’m not about to claim I’ve figured out how to deliver everything… but I’ll take even a small victory right now.

And here it is…

Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of support@i2icontact.com designates 207.58.191.151 as permitted sender) client-ip=207.58.191.151;
DomainKey-Status: good
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=pass (google.com: domain of support@i2icontact.com designates 207.58.191.151 as permitted sender) smtp.mail=support@i2icontact.com; domainkeys=pass header.From=support@i2icontact.com
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws; s=default; d=i2icontact.com;
	h=Received:MIME-Version:Date:From:To:Subject:Message-ID:X-Sender:User-Agent:Content-Transfer-Encoding:Content-Type;
	b=ajo1KCm/+flKwwdR9+pcbijbcYMy9/upJ8lptmb9DV9magDeoHjCPHDEq+umvaQMo9sil4GVxRuI6P/KB1eRCc4Om90FcCm76TJGAj3bPDNksDiNCOShHMEljPBtrSiw;

That’s a partial email header from gmail for a message I just sent from my server.

I know… it doesn’t look like much… but it means I got both SPF and Domain Key authentication working on my exim MTA server last night / this morning.  Woohoo!

Don’t know what any of that is?  That’s ok… I barely did when I started this whole thing.  But do a little searching and you’ll find it’s pretty cool.  And pretty hard to piece everything together (until you know where to look).

And, in a nutshell, it means Google and Yahoo (not sure about AOL) can now authenticate my email messages back to me and my server.  And that means they let me (so far) have a free pass to the inbox… provided I don’t screw it up.

I still have some other things to implement, since it seems like everyone has a different standard they want me to support… but I’m closer than I was yesterday.

I’ve oversimplified what this lets me do… but it’s been a thorn in my side for several years now.  Heck, just figuring out what I needed to do took a virtual act of God.  Maybe I’m just dense (not), but it certainly shouldn’t be this hard.

Anyway… I’m off to bed.  Sleeping peacefully knowing that I’m 1 step closer to getting past the demon gatekeepers of the email world.

3 Comments SPF, DKIM, EXIM… WTH?

  1. Charlie

    Dude, You are quite a combination of persistence, cleverness, ingenuity and presence of mind.

    I tip my hat to you. Knowing of your penchant for automation, I’m betting this is all folding into a much greater marketing plan.

  2. Wes

    Matt…

    Hope all is well. Sorry about your Paypal nigthmare. I had a similar issue when I used to sell on Ebay. Out of the blue…I got the paypal slap, and it took about 3 months of calls and faxes to get it reopened.

    Just curious about SSP 3.0? Are you still developing for SSP?
    Keep us posted!
    – Wes

  3. Terence Milbourn

    Stompernet did an article on this which was quite helpful –> Vol. 1 Issue 01 “Armor Piercing Emails (Part 2): Deliverability De-Mystified”.

    The basic message they were trying to get across was/is…

    1. Get an ESP
    2. Ensure Double Opt-In
    3. Establish bounce handling
    4. Authenticate your domain
    5. Whitelist with reputation service

    They say (Tom Ham and Colin Theriot) that doing this will get you 95%+ delivery to in-boxes.

    The other really important factor, of course, is the quality of the list you’re mailing to.

    And I would imagine, yours is second to none!

    Terence.

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