SPF/DKIM/SMTP: Prevent your system emails being caught by spam filters

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This page will help you set up an SPF Record and DKIM or SMTP Relay for your emails that are sent out from accessplanit, to prevent them being caught by spam filters.

Why do I need an SPF/DKIM Record or SMTP Relay?

When you send emails from your accessplanit platform, manually or automatically, we set the sender to an email address of your choice to make sure your customers receive emails from a friendly, recognisable sender and they know that it is you that is contacting them!

If you would like to change this email address, please contact the Support team.

As the emails are not actually sending from yourselves, some email services such as Hotmail, Outlook and Gmail identify these emails as spam. This means that your emails are more likely to be picked up in spam filters, meaning that it lowers accessplanit's email reputation which ultimately leads to a higher risk and more of your emails being labelled as spam.

It is therefore important that we work together to reduce this risk as much as possible. The earlier you set up an SPF Record, a DKIM Record or an SMTP Relay in your journey with accessplanit the better, which is why we encourage you to complete this during implementation with your Implementation Manager.

To make things a little easier, we have three methods available for you to choose from - an SPF record, DKIM records, or an SMTP Relay.

It is completely up to your IT Team which their preference is and we are more than happy to talk you through both so that you fully understand what is involved and how long you can expect it to take. An overview of all options is available on this page.

SPF Record

The SPF Record route is essentially where a note is added to your email address, saying that accessplanit can send emails on your behalf.

As your emails are sending from accessplanit but with your chosen email address, this method involves adding an ‘SPF Record’ to your email address’ domain (i.e. jane@companyabc.com) to say accessplanit will be sending emails using this domain.

You may already have SPF Records set up for other suppliers that you work with as this is quite a common process.

You can check what SPF Records you already have in place by visiting https://mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx and searching using your email domain (this is everything after the @ symbol in your email address).

Setting up an SPF Record

You must first contact your DNS hosting company or internal IT Team and ask them to add the following SPF information to your DNS record. Or, if you can log into the control panel for your DNS, you can make this change yourself.

See table below for SPF record values

We are unable to provide an IP address as it is subject to change.

DKIM Records

We also strongly recommend that during this process you also set up DKIM records.

This is not as straightforward as the standalone SPF Record; however it is extremely beneficial as it allows mailboxes like Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook to verify the emails that your customers receive from you via accessplanit.

The process works by adding a digital signature to each of the emails sent from accessplanit, the mailbox (i.e. Gmail) that receives the email decrypts the signature and compares it against the expected DKIM for your email domain that we set up together. If it is a match then the email is accepted as authentic, the mail avoids being caught by spam and the reliability of the emails increases! 

You can read more about DKIM here

Again, you can set these up by contacting your DNS provider or internal IT team and asking them to add the following two records for DKIM signing. Or, if you can log into the control panel for your DNS, you can make this change yourself.

Record Type

Name

Value

TXT



"v=spf1 include:_spf.accessplanit.com -all"

CNAME

aps1._domainkey

dkim1-domain-com._domainkey.accessplanit.com

CNAME

aps2._domainkey

dkim2-domain-com._domainkey.accessplanit.com

The key bit here is to use dashes between the domain parts within the CNAME values. The examples below show what the values would be if  accessplanit was configured to send emails from info@mytrainingcompany.co.uk:


dkim1-mytrainingcompany-co-uk._domainkey.accessplanit.com
dkim2-mytrainingcompany-co-uk._domainkey.accessplanit.com

 

Creating these two records will allow for accessplanit to manage the DKIM signatures for signing emails on your behalf and reduce the risk of emails going to Junk / marked as SPAM.

Verifiying your SPF/DKIM Records

You can verify your own SPF or DKIM Records using the below pages:

SPF Recordhttps://mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx

DKIM Recordhttps://mxtoolbox.com/dkim.aspx

If there are any errors in your records, or these don't exist, the web pages above will flag this for you.

Excluding 3rd Party Email Providers Such As SendGrid

_spf.accessplanit.com not only allows accessplanit to send emails on your behalf, it also includes a reference to sendgrid.net for e-Campaigns.

If your platform does not include the e-Campaign module then you may prefer to use _spfaponly.accessplanit.com. This spf record only references the accessplanit mail servers and no other 3rd parties.

SMTP Relay

Email relaying is the alternative approach that traditionally take a little longer to set up but means that you have much more control over the emails that send from accessplanit  and you are not reliant on our email servers.

We recommend using your own SMTP relay when at all possible.

Using your own SMTP relay not only gives you full control over your mail server, email is accepted from your own domain and no methods such as DKIM or SPF records need to be set up.

Using your own SMTP relay can also take traffic off the accessplanit server and this reduces the chance of the accessplanit server getting blacklisted as a spam delivery server. This can happen and is easily fixed but, can cause you an inconvenience whilst the ban is lifted.

An SMTP relay is where the emails from your platform are sent from your email server instead of the accessplanit email server. You will provide the details of your server to your key contact at accessplanit and they will add them into your platform and work with you to test that the emails are sending successfully.

The following information is required:

  • Email Host: The host name or IP address of your company's SMTP server.

  • Port: The port number of your company's SMTP server.

  • Username: Credentials required to access the SMTP server.

  • Password: Credentials required to access the SMTP server.

Our SMTP uses Port 26, so please ensure this is not blocked.

If your SMTP server sits behind a firewall then it’ll need to be configured to allow a TCP connection through on the port your SMTP server is using. Please contact accessplanit to get the IP address of your platform so that the SMTP port can be opened to just accessplanit.

Considerations

When you are setting up your SMTP relay, there are some considerations that you need to think about when choosing the best option, so that you choose the correct solution for your business.

If there are limitations on how many emails can be sent per day, minute, etc. from your SMTP relay choice, then you will need to make yourself aware of these and limit your accessplanit communications accordingly. Otherwise, you risk your emails being flagged as spam and you may be blocked by your provider from sending emails, and as accessplanit do not control your SMTP relay and any settings within this, we aren't able to offer any support with changing this.

For example, if you choose to use an Office 365 SMTP relay, you will need to check the limitations that Microsoft place on emails sent from this, to make sure that you are not expecting to go over these limits.

As of August 2021, the current Office 365 limits are as follows:

  • 10,000 email messages sent per day

  • 500 recipients total for a single email

  • 30 emails sent per minute

The above figures are subject to change by Microsoft at any time, and should be verified with your provider before setting up the SMTP relay.

To estimate the number of emails you believe you will be sending, you can look at your average class sizes, bookings per day, etc. along with the active workflow templates you have on your platform.

For example, if you have an automated communication to send out certificate emails to Delegates after they are set to 'Completed' on a course, and there are more than 30 Delegates on the course, you run the risk of exceeding your limit if you change the Delegates' Status in bulk.