Improving email delivery from your ChurchSuite account
This article explains how to complete a domain verification process so that ChurchSuite is able to send emails using your verified church/organisation domain, rather than through ChurchSuite's verified domain. Domain verification increases email security and deliverability while also helping protect your domain reputation from 'spoofing'.
Overview of domain verification
Until your church's domain name has been verified all outbound emails sent from your ChurchSuite account will show as being sent from yoursubdomainname+user-username.out.churchsuite.com. "out.churchsuite.com" is a verified domain.
Note that the 'Reply to' email address will always show the sending User's email address so that replies are correctly routed back to their mailbox, however, there are a some email applications that do not support or respect 'reply to', which would result in email replies not being delivered to the sending User. We therefore encourage you to take time to complete the domain verification process for your domain. This only needs to be done once for each of the registered email domain names that your Users may use when sending emails from within ChurchSuite - it doesn't need to be done for every user!
ChurchSuite uses an email service provider called Mandrill when sending all emails authored by Users from within the ChurchSuite ecosystem. Mandrill are the people behind the incredibly popular mailing subscriber list system MailChimp, which immediately gives your emails a greater chance of not being treated as spam. There are, however, a few things you can do to improve your email deliverability. Here's why...
If you're sending out an email from within ChurchSuite from your personal Hotmail address, Hotmail will know that the email didn't originate from their email servers (it will originate from Mandrill) even though the sender email address suggests that it should have done so - this disparity is what can increase the chances of Hotmail marking the email as spam. We would therefore strongly recommend that your ChurchSuite Users use an email address that is specific to your church/organisation by making use of your owned domain name. We also recommend you have your owned domain name verified with Mandrill. We've provided a simple-to-use Mandrill integration in the Integrations section of the Administrator area. Here's how to complete the process...
Stage 1 - enter your email address
Begin by entering a valid Email Address within your church's domain - preferably an email address that you receive replies to. Click Save and Proceed. Now check your email inbox - Mandrill Client Services will send you a domain verification email that must be forwarded to us at ChurchSuite. If the email doesn't arrive, check your spam folder. The email comes from email@example.com and contains information that the ChurchSuite Support team need in order to process the verification of your domain against your ChurchSuite account.
Note that you can abort and Reset the Integration at any time in order to request another email from Mandrill if you need to. Be aware that each Mandrill verification email causes all previously requested emails to expire, so you must send us the latest email that you receive.
Stage 2 - forward your Mandrill email to ChurchSuite Support
This stage simply involves ticking to confirm that you have forwarded the Mandrill email to us at ChurchSuite Support. Once we receive that email and process it, we'll send you a confirmation email back advising that you can proceed to the final stage. Now you can tick the box in Stage 2 and click Save and Proceed.
Stage 3 - configure the SPF and DKIM records in your DNS
This stage can be trickier as it requires a little technical 'know how' and access to the DNS settings in your domain host's user control panel. Essentially you are going to add two new text records (TXT) to your DNS settings. Navigate to the advanced DNS settings in the control panel for your domain host. Follow your domain host's instructions for adding the following two DNS records. Your domain host should provide support articles on how to add DNS records; alternatively you may wish to reach out to their online support for help with this.
DNS Record #1: Add a DKIM record to your domain name
A DKIM record authorises an email service to send out emails on behalf of your domain name, in this case, it authorises ChurchSuite to send out emails from your @yourchurchdomain.org.
You will need to create a new TXT record for mandrill._domainkey.yourchurchdomain.com (where yourchurchdomain.com is your church's domain name). Note that some host providers will automatically append your church's domain name to a DNS record, and so you may simply need to add in the prefix part, i.e. mandrill._domainkey.
For your TXT record add the following TXT value (be sure to copy and paste the full value from the box below - it ends with a semicolon):
v=DKIM1; k=rsa; p=MIGfMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA4GNADCBiQKBgQCrLHiExVd55zd/IQ/J/mRwSRMAocV/hMB3jXwaHH36d9NaVynQFYV8NaWi69c1veUtRzGt7yAioXqLj7Z4TeEUoOLgrKsn8YnckGs9i3B3tVFB+Ch/4mPhXWiNfNdynHWBcPcbJ8kjEQ2U8y78dHZj1YeRXXVvWob2OaKynO8/lQIDAQAB;
DNS Record #2: Add an SPF record to your domain name
An SPF record is similar to a DKIM record in that it authorises emails to be sent out from your domain name by a third-party service.
You will need to create, or edit an existing TXT of SPF record for yourchurchdomain.com (where yourchurchdomain.com is your church's domain name) with the following value (be sure to copy and paste the full value below):
v=spf1 include:spf.mandrillapp.com ?all
Note: Most domain hosts do not require a host name to be entered for SPF - the text value above is sufficient. If an entry is required in the host name field, try entering just the @ symbol (which symbolises your root domain name), or enter your domain name in full. Do not enter mandrill._domainkey in the host name field for SPF - that's for DKIM text records only
If you have an existing SPF record, with an existing value, perhaps with other 'include' statements, you need simply edit the existing record and adding include:spf.mandrillapp.com before the final all statement - be careful not to overwrite any of the existing 'include' statements - just append include:spf.mandrillapp.com before the final all.
Note that you can only have one SPF record in DNS. If your SPF entry isn't being recognised as valid, check that you don't have more than one SPF record! While you might have multiple DKIM records, you should only have one SPF record in your DNS.
If you've done everything correct, clicking Save and Proceed will set the integration progress bar to full completed.
If you have more than one domain to verify - perhaps because your organisations sends emails through more than one email domain name, you can click Add another domain and repeat Stage 1 again. ChurchSuite tracks the progress of each domain's verification through each stage.
Once you have completed adding the two DNS records, switch back to ChurchSuite and head back into the Mandrill integration once again. It can sometimes take a few hours for DNS changes to propagate over the internet, however, if you've done everything correctly then the Mandrill integration will show four green ticks and the progress bar will be 100% green. You can safely navigate away from the page - you're all done and your domain has been verified! Now, all outbound emails sent through your ChurchSuite account will show correctly as originating from the email address within your verified domain.