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What is Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Why it Matters for Marketers

Email is the backbone of the internet. Businesses, government agencies and individuals rely on email for official communication and also as a solid marketing channel. Newsletters, registration informations, product updates, passwords resets, everything flows through mails. That’s why ensuring the email comes from a trustworthy source (sender) is mandatory.

When email is being sent, simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) is used to get a message from the sender to the receiver.

One security weakness in the email infrastructure is that it allows any computer to send email claiming to be from any source address. It means that (theoretically) anyone could send emails pretending to be any sender (domain). Imagine you receive an email from @facebook.com email address but the actual sender is a stranger who is trying to obtain some private informations. Pretty crazy, right?

Fortunately, in the early 2000′, a couple of smart people such as Paul Vixie and David Green, came up with the concept of Sender Policy Framework (SPF), an extra security layer which helps keep emails trustworthy and viable as a form of communication.

What is an SPF record?

The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a text (txt) record stored in the Domain Name System (DNS).

An SPF record is a short line of text that the administrator of a domain adds to their txt record. The txt record is stored in the DNS  alongside their A, PTR, and MX records. The SPF record is usually added via something like GoDaddy or Namecheap. An example of an SPF record is something like this:

“v=spf1 ip4:128.21.06.71 include:example.com -all”

Why implementing SPF matters (for marketers)

As marketers, we tend to focus on content and strategies, rather than technical particularities. When it comes to emails, small details can make a big difference. In our case, there are two main reasons why a business would want to implement SPF records:

  1. It keeps the email protocol secure by reducing chances of phishing and spamming attempts
  2. It increases the inbox deliverability

It goes without saying, emails that don’t reach the customer’s inbox means not only money left on the table, but also a sure way to lose customer loyalty and engagement. Ensuring maximum email deliverability is not a minor technical detail, but an active duty all companies should work on.

In short, even if some of the technical details above seem complicated, one thing to take from this blog post is that implementing an SPF record is a sure way to increase the deliverability of your email campaigns.