Campaignion emails setup or how we comply to DMARC standard

If you set up a successful email protest with Campaignion, our mailserver will be handling a massive amount of emails. And for the success of an email protest, it's crucial that the emails land in the inbox of the target. 

To ensure this, we use all technical means to stay off any spam blacklists and we also get our server whitelisted for big mail companies. We have the best rating, which means you won't find Campaignion emails in your junk or spam inbox.

After some time, most bigger targets will block emails from Campaignion manually, but by then they'll already have a flooded inbox and you bet, they'll have got the message.

But with the introduction of the DMARC policy we've needed to make some extra changes and get authenticated custom domains to be able to send complying emails.

What is DMARC anyway?

DMARC means "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance" and is a validation system that aims to detect email spoofing (emails with a forged sender address) and to give spam a hard time. It provides a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to check if the domain of the mailserver that sends out the emails, matches the domain specified in the email address of the 'From:' field and that neither email nor attachments have been modified on the way.

The DMARC specification was published in 2013 and it wasn't until mid 2015 that most big email providers like Gmail or Yahoo implemented the DMARC policy for receiving emails.

If the sending email server isn't allowed to handle emails of the domain www.mycampaignsite.com and tries to send an email from me@mycampaignsite.com to target@some-evil.gov - the receiving email server of some-evil.gov will detect it as spam and if working correctly, it won't place the email in the inbox.

How does a DMARC complying email protest work?

To get the email setup to work correctly, we get a subdomain such as subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org for your Campaignion installation, with specific DNS settings which you get from us. Now, our email server is the official email server for this specific subdomain - subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org (but not for your-ngo-domain.org) - and hence, emails from it using this subdomain will be DMARC compliant.

Why are the supporter email addresses weird?

Since we can't use this subdomain solution for your supporters (e.g. for supporters with email accounts at Google we won't get a subdomain of the type campaignion.gmail.com from Google), we aren't able to send DMARC complying emails if we use the real supporter email addresses. That's why we generate a new email address for every supporter using your Campaignion subdomain, and this generated address is used as the sender for the protest email. Now if the target writes an answer to this generated email address, our server receives it, looks up the real supporter address and forwards it to the real address and your supporter will receive it.

Let's go through this with an example:

Consider a supporter called Susan Mayer, who has a private email address of susan.mayer@gmail.com. She participates in an email protest and our mail server sends an email to the protest target with "susan.mayer@gmail.com" written in the "From:" field. Now the target mail server receives the mail and reads the "From:" field. According to this field, the mail should be coming from a Google Mail server. But it doesn't, as the mail was sent from the mail server of subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org. Because this is not allowed according to the DMARC standard, the target server discards the mail as junk.

How does Campaignion solve this problem?

We generate a new FROM address like susan.mayer.HASHNUMBER@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org and send the protest mail with this address in the 'From:' field. Now the target mail server sees a match between the sending mail server and the FROM address and accepts the mail.

But what happens when a target wants to reply to the protester?

The target can simply answer to this generated email address, because Campaignion saves a mapping between the real supporter address (susan.mayer@gmail.com) and the generated one (susan.mayer.HASHNUMBER@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org). Then, when the target answers to the generated email address, our mail server receives the answer, looks up the real supporter address and forwards the email to the supporter.

As a nice side-effect: this helps protect the privacy of the supporter email addresses too. The target is able to reply but not to collect the real email addresses!

My site sends mails from info@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org (or something similar) in the 'From:' field, but I want the email address of my NGO! What can I do?

To comply with the DMARC standard, we not only can't send emails from a real supporter email address, but we also cannot send emails to a supporter using the domain of your NGO (e.g. office@your-ngo-domain.org). It's the same reason as described before when sending protest mails from a supporter to a target. Our mail server can only send emails for subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org but not for your-ngo-domain.org for the emails to be DMARC compliant. Again, the domain of the email address in the 'From:' field has to match the domain of our mail server. Thus, all the thank you emails or confirmation emails to supporters will have to use an email address using the subdomain you provided us.

However, you can set a REPLY TO email address to whatever you like!

What is the difference between a REPLY TO and a FROM Email address?

With DMARC, your choice of 'From:' email address is limited, but you can set a different 'REPLY TO' address. This can be set to any email address, but a working email address you maintain and have access to is advisable.

What does 'REPLY TO' do? Even if the 'From:' email address is a different one, if you hit reply in your webmail or mail client you will reply to the email address specified in the REPLY TO field.

This sound great! Where can I set this REPLY TO address?

Go to the emails settings of your action. (The URL will follow this format: subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org/node/XX/wizard/emails).

There, enable for example the Thank you email as in the picture below.

2017-09-15_Demo2_Custom_Email_From.png

Have a look at the 'E-mail from address' settings. You first see the default email address, which we configured at your Campaignion launch and which is set in this example to admin@more-onion.com. This is the DMARC compliant default email address that will be used by default for sending all emails to supporters.

Just below, you see the 'custom e-mail from address', which is set to Phil@savingpandas.com for this action. As an address is entered here, this address Phil@savingpandas.com will be used as the REPLY TO address for your supporters to answer you directly, instead of admin@more-onion.com.

What else can I customise?

For more details on the general setup of emails, you can have a look at our emails setup userguide.

My site sends mails from info@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org and I would like to use fundraising@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org

But just for this one action

Then, you can add this e-mail address in the Custom 'E-mail from address' field, and as the subdomain matches our mail server, this address will be used to send the emails too, for this action.

In general, if in the custom e-mail 'from' address field you enter a DMARC compliant address like anything@subdomain.your-ngo-domain.org, then this address will be used as the FROM email address (not just the REPLY TO).

For all my actions

Then, contact support at support@more-onion.com and ask them to change your Campaignion mail settings :)

 

 

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