Improving email deliverability 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 using ChurchSuite's verified domain. Domain verification increases email security and deliverability while also helping protect your domain reputation from 'spoofing'.

Overview of domain verification

Introduction

Until your church's domain name has been verified all outbound emails sent from your ChurchSuite account will show as being sent 'From' subdomainname.out.churchsuite.com.

Note that the Reply to email address will always show the sending User's email address, so replies will still be correctly routed back to their mailbox. If you would prefer emails to show as coming 'From' your owned domain email addresses, you will need to complete the domain verification process explained below. This only needs to be done once for each of the domain name that your Users use when authoring emails from within ChurchSuite - it doesn't need to be done for every user!

ChurchSuite uses an email service provider called Mandrill when sending emails authored by Users from within the ChurchSuite ecosystem. Mandrill are the people behind the incredibly popular mailing subscriber list system MailChimp. While Mandrill and MailChimp already have excellent deliverability reputations, there's a few things you can do to further maximise the deliverability of your email communications.

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 risk 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 using an 'owned' domain name and then having that domain name verified with Mandrill. To do this, we've provided a simple-to-use Mandrill integration in the Integrations section of the Administrator area of ChurchSuite. Here's how to complete the integration process..

Stage 1 - enter your email address

First, ChurchSuite's email service (Mandrill) needs to send you an email that you'll forward to ChurchSuite Support for actioning.

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 you need to 'forward' to support@churchsuite.com. If the email doesn't arrive, check your spam folder. The email comes from help@mandrill.com and contains information that the ChurchSuite Support team will use to process the verification of your domain. The content of that email is not something that you can action.

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 confirming that you have forwarded the Mandrill Client Services email to 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 for your domain - typically accessed through some sort of control panel or dashboard. Essentially you are going to add two new text records (TXT) to your DNS. Once logged in to your domain provider account, navigate to the advanced DNS settings. Follow your domain host's instructions for adding the following two DNS records. Your domain host will 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 @yourdomainname.org.

You will need to create a new TXT record for mandrill._domainkey.yourchurchdomain.com (where yourdomainname.com is your organisation's domain name). Note that some host providers will automatically append your domain name to a DNS record, so you may simply need to add in the prefix part, i.e. mandrill._domainkey

For this 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 either create a new SPF record or edit an existing SPF record. Your DNS can only have one SPF record. The SPF record will need 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.

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.

It can sometimes take a few hours for DNS changes to propagate. 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!

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.

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