Email Integration Process

This article will give you an overview of the email integration process necessary for starting to use email campaign features in Bloomreach Engagement. In addition, it will provide you with an explanation of the key concepts and terminology.

Some aspects of the process are the responsibility of the client, whereas some need to be done by Bloomreach Engagement. Nonetheless, this is the list together with the correct order of the tasks that need to be fulfilled. Our consultants will take you through this process.

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Deliverability questionnaire

The deliverability questionnaire is a starting step in the email integration process with Bloomreach Engagement. Here, we as Bloomreach Engagement ask you to enter details about your current email lists and practices. This questionnaire is very important for us to understand your business and make suggestions on what type of email integration is the most appropriate and what are the best ways we can help you in the future.

Subdomains

A subdomain is a 'child' of the parent domain. For example, if your parent domain (website) is called website.com, your subdomain for your marketing emails could typically be emails.website.com.

It is the best practice in the industry to send emails from your subdomains, rather than your parent domain. Subdomains will, therefore, be the addresses you will use to send your emails.

In the form received from Bloomreach Engagement, it is required to list these used subdomains together with all of the necessary technical information.

As for usage, using separate subdomains for different purposes is very beneficial. Every subdomain has its reputation. You want to distinguish between, for instance, transactional emails and marketing emails, as you don't want the former to be affected by the latter. In other words, transactional emails need to have perfect deliverability as opposed to marketing, and you want to ensure that by using different subdomains.

DNS setup

In this step, Bloomreach Engagement contacts the email service provider and provides DNS settings to you as the client. You then set up the required DNS (A/PTR/SPF/DKIM/MX) records concerning all of your ESPs. Afterward, Bloomreach Engagement verifies and confirms the whole setup. DNS records are vital for reaching high deliverability.

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ESP (Email Service Provider) in basic terms is a company that provides you with email marketing or bulk email services. An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a company providing access to the Internet for a fee.

There are several essential DNS records:

  • "A" record - maps the name to the address
  • PTR (Reverse DNS) record - does the reverse of "A" record, they map IP addresses back to hostnames.
  • "MX" (Mail Exchanger) record - tells other mail servers the name of the server on the Internet to send mail to for your domain.
  • "SPF" (Sender Policy Framework) record - provides other mail servers with an option to verify that mail claiming to be from your domain is from one of your IP addresses. It is essentially a DNS TXT record that specifies what IPs and other systems are allowed to send emails on behalf of your domain.
  • "DKIM" record - used for security by allowing you to be certain that a message from domain.com is indeed from domain.com. To do this, DKIM automatically adds a digital signature based on a private key to each message, securing the email during its transfer.
  • โ€œDMARCโ€ record is used for verifying authentication and preventing phishing - it stops any unauthenticated emails sent using your brand domain. You are the owner of this record, as it is not provider-specific, but impacts all domains within your organization.

Mailgun

Completely new domain or subdomain

In case of new subdomain, you should not have any obstacles setting up records required by Mailgun.

They require SPF record (TXT) and DKIM record (TXT) as mandatory records. By default, it uses softfail qualifier (~al), but you can also use fail qualifier โ€œ-allโ€ policy in your SPF record (TXT). DKIM record (TXT) might have different domainkey selectors (e.g. โ€œemail.โ€, โ€œmta.โ€), if you are setting up multiple domains, this is expected. For DKIM record (TXT), we generate 1024 bit keys, but you can request 2048 bit key.

As an optional, there are two MX records to be set. We recommend to set these, as it might help with reputation with certain providers and it also enables you to process responses via Mailgun.

The last record is CNAME record, we do not advise to set this, as it interferes with open/click tracking from Bloomreach.

In some specific cases and deliverability issues, we might ask you to set the A record as well, this comes with specific instructions from our emailing experts, on ad-hoc basis.

Reusing existing domain or subdomain

In case you need/want to reuse existing domain/subdomain, there is some clash between records. SPF record (TXT) needs to be merged to existing record. Multiple DKIM records (TXT) can be set, so there is no conflict in this requirement.

You will not be able to set MX records as they would be in conflict with existing ones, and you will not benefit from potential improvement of reputation with certain providers.

CNAME record is again not advised to be set.

In case it is needed, you might not be able to set the correct A record for your domain, if there is an existing one.

Brevo/Sendinblue

Due to combination of records required by Brevo and certain DACH mailbox service providers, it is not possible to reuse existing domains without running into issues.

Completely new domain or subdomain

In Brevo, there are two types of domains to be set. One is the main domain attached to the IP provided, others are connected to it. They require different sets of records.

Main domain

This is the main domain, that might appear in certain providers, e.g. Gmail, when opening the details of the message. For this reason, we recommend to set up something generic, e.g. โ€œ.comโ€ if you have multiple domains for different countries. In case you need to separate your domains/brands, you will need to ask the team for separate accounts/records for each brand/domain.

In this case, all records listed below are mandatory.

First record is A record, which points the domain to IP that was assigned to you. Only the main domain has this record set.

They require SPF record (TXT) and DKIM record (TXT) (TXT) as mandatory records. These will be the same for all domains created. You can request 2048 bit key for DKIM, it will be solved on ad-hoc basis, as it requires some manual steps.

In addition, there is TXT record needed for verification from Brevo side, and there is also an MX record to be set.

The last records are CNAME records, you will need to set them, even though the open/click tracking is not enabled in the integration.

Other domains

For other domains to be used with Brevo, there are two mandatory DNS records - DKIM record (TXT) and TXT record for Brevo verification. We also recommend to set the SPF record (TXT), it will be the same one as on the Main domain.

Mailjet

Due to combination of records required by Brevo and certain DACH mailbox service providers, it is not possible to reuse existing domains without running into issues.

Completely new domain or subdomain

They require SPF record (TXT) and DKIM record (TXT) as mandatory records. On top of this, there is TXT record required by Mailjet to validate the domain.

There are two additional CNAME records to be set, with different selectors, โ€œbnc3.โ€ and โ€œmail.โ€.

Even though Mailjet does not provide A or MX records out of the box. They are required. The A record / MX record is a requirement by some of the German mailbox providers e.g. Freenet and T-Online.

Where to point the A record? The A record can point to the A record of your main organizational/brand domain, e.g. www.bloomreach.com so that it directs to the landing page of your brand.

Generally, the MX record should be one that is already in use by your brand and from which you are able to receive the emails that are sent to an address under this subdomain. Again, you should be able to re-use records from your main domain, e.g. bloomreach.com.

EmailLabs

Typically, there are 2 records to be set - SPF record (TXT) and DKIM record (TXT). However, in certain specific cases, we might send you instructions on ad-hoc basis with a different configuration.

Completely new domain or subdomain

In case of new subdomain, you should not have any obstacles setting up records required by EmailLabs.

They require SPF record (TXT) and DKIM record (TXT) as mandatory records

Reusing existing domain/subdomain

In case you need/want to reuse existing domain/subdomain, there is some clash between records. SPF record (TXT) needs to be merged to existing record. Multiple DKIM records (TXT) can be set, so there is no conflict in this requirement.

Bloomreach Engagement project

Email integration into an Bloomreach Engagement project

Firstly, Bloomreach Engagement sets up the email integration in the respective project. The following step is you as a client accepting the Terms & Conditions of the emailing service inside the project. Lastly, you should test sending emails and confirm the desired functionality.

Customer information and Consent management

To start sending emails from Bloomreach Engagement, you will have to integrate your customer data and consent management. Do not worry, this should be part of your onboarding and your Bloomreach Engagement consultants will help you with it.

You will need to import all existing customers' data and email addresses through a one-off import at first, as well as set up a process to regularly add and update new customer info, especially email addresses.

Next, you will need to set up consent management in Bloomreach Engagement and import all customers' current consent data as a one-off import. In case you plan to keep sending emails outside of Bloomreach Engagement or have other systems that will manage subscribers such as your e-commerce platform, you need to set up a process to regularly add and update consent information.

Shared IP or dedicated IP

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is an address that is assigned to each domain on the web and these IP addresses are then mapped to domain names using DNS (Domain Name System). Thanks to that you can access other IP addresses through convenient domain names.

The decision of whether to use a dedicated or shared IP address in your specific use-case will be made taking into account a variety of factors. The decision itself is confirmed by the ESP as well.

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Dedicated IP address

A dedicated IP address is a unique IP address that is used only by your domain as opposed to sharing it with other domains.

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Shared IP address

A shared IP address, unlike a dedicated one, means that your domain is mapped to an address that is shared between multiple domains.

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It is essential to know that the IP address is different for each instance, and you can find it in the tooltip next to the feature in the app.

If the total number of emails sent per day is lower than a certain amount, a dedicated IP is not recommended and Bloomreach Engagement suggests using our reputable shared IP pools.

Small population dedicated IPs cannot build a strong reputation easily. In addition, a mistake in sending emails is more costly on a dedicated IP, as there is a smaller volume of email traffic. Since a shared IP pool includes many domains, using it would mitigate various sudden problems and minimize potential risks. Furthermore, a dedicated IP is more difficult and costly to maintain, which is another reason to use it only if you regularly send large amounts of emails.

On the other hand, being a business that sends a larger amount of emails using good mailing practices, you might consider a dedicated solution. The reputation of a shared IP is affected by everyone who is emailing from it. If you have excellent deliverability practices and you still do not achieve desired deliverability, the reason might be the shared IP. The change to a dedicated IP comes with greater independence, but also with greater accountability. Nonetheless, it is still easier to manage and address your deliverability issues, if the IP address belongs only to you.

Warm-up

With email campaigns, the number one goal, before any other, is to reach the customer's inbox. In addition to following best deliverability practices (Email deliverability tips), email warm-up is a very good way of improving your chances with new contacts and customers.

The issue is that you cannot send too many emails to too many new contacts (that have never received an email from you before) at once. This is because you want to avoid getting greylisted or blacklisted. Instead of that, you need to gradually increase the number of emails sent to new contacts = email warm-up.

Ideally, you should use only NEW, PASSIVE and ACTIVE segments of your mailing list during warmup. Read the Health of your email list article for the explanation of the mentioned segments as well as a full guide on how to properly segment your mailing list.

If there is a warmup, there are few other steps you need to follow in this process.

  • Firstly, you as the client have to import past engagement information for all of the customers into Bloomreach Engagement.
  • Secondly, you will fill in the campaign calendar and set email dates and targets.
  • Thirdly, you will need to create an email design for warmup's first 3-4 campaigns.
  • After all of these steps, Bloomreach Engagement creates the warmup plan, which the client subsequently approves. In addition, Bloomreach Engagement also informs the ESP about the warmup plan. In the plan, you will have a summary of the campaign's total volume as well as information about the volume in regards to types of used IPs.
  • At the end of this process, if necessary, we will create scenarios for the warmup.

Domain reputation

Whether you use a dedicated IP or a shared IP, you are responsible for keeping a high domain reputation by sending relevant and useful emails to your customers. If your emails are marked as spam by customers or if your open rates are low, you might be blacklisted by the ISPs. This responsibility does not lie with Bloomreach Engagement or ESP but with you.

If your IP or subdomain gets downgraded, ESP and Bloomreach Engagement will help you to get upgraded again with some suggestions. However, some changes to your emailing practices might be necessary. Remember, more volume does not always mean more revenue. In other words, fewer emails with more personalized, relevant and useful content might bring you more revenue in the long term.

Troubleshooting

Sometimes, after setting records, the emailing team in Bloomreach is not able to verify them. The most common reasons are:

  1. Not enough time between updating and checking - records take time to propagate, it usually takes a few minutes, but might take up to 24 hours.
  2. Wrong hostname used - you might have set the records for main organisational domain, instead of subdomain dedicated to emailing. Please check this.
  3. Typo in value - sometimes, extra characters are copied by accident, or some are left out. Please double check the records you set.