Reply-To email addresses are used to receive messages based on the parent email address.
However, with this method comes a problem that has been causing much damage to business email domains. The method does not allow for the DMARC policy to be implemented.
Therefore, resulting in the sender’s email being flagged as spam or rejected by the DMARC policies. As well as getting flagged with false positives by the SPF and DKIM checks of the receiver’s DMARC-secured email framework.
But still, there are sure-fire ways for successful implementation of DMARC Reply-To in the email header and passing all the DMARC security checks en route set by the receiver’s mailing system.
About DMARC Reply-To Address
A reply-to address is the email address that you want a recipient to reply to. It’s like a personal email address for your company. If you’re sending an email from your company’s domain, but you want the recipient to reply back to another email address, then it’s called a Reply-To address.
And like every other rule in life, there are exceptions.
You can’t just simply implement Reply-To when using DMARC or sending your emails to DMARC-compliant mail systems.
It’s because DMARC operates on the From-address and not the Reply-To address.
And if you use Reply-To in the DMARC environment, then your messages will be flagged as spam by the receiver or rejected straightaway.
In DMARC environments, if you want to send emails using Reply-To and you want those emails to pass through the DMARC filtering system, you will need a DMARC Reply-To Implementation in place.
Why Does DMARC Consider Emails with Reply-To Address as Invalid or Spam?
DMARC protocol secures its user’s email server against spam by preventing third parties from sending emails on the behalf of the user’s domain.
Therefore, the DMARC mechanism considers emails with Reply-To address in the headers as invalid or spam. It’s because it thinks that someone else is sending messages on behalf of a domain they don’t own with the intention of redirecting sensitive information user replies from the legitimate email address to their email address for illegal activities.
To combat this, DMARC of the receiving servers use policy p=reject to deal with such incoming messages.
For example, if someone sends an email from their Gmail account and they forward it to their account—as most people do—then they’ll add a Reply-To address of “[email protected].” If a recipient receives that email, DMARC will see it as having originated from your secondary account (the reply-to email address) instead of the primary—and so p=reject applies.
Receivers are on the lookout for these primary factors when verifying the origin of your email:
1. The Return-Path address matches your From address
2. The From and Return-Path should always be from subdomains of your company’s domain
3. DKIM signs Passing results for every email sent with a valid domain key for your domain
4. SPF passes at least one of the listed IPs for your domain
5. If you are using DMARC, you should have a policy in place and your receivers should be able to see it.
Enabling a Valid DMARC Reply-To Implementation with PowerDMARC
Our DMARC Reply-To Implementation is designed to allow for the delivery of emails with a Reply-To address.
The first step in delivering emails with a reply-to address is for your sending message to be routed through our Reply Mail Management System where appropriate changes are made to the DNS record and IP address to achieve compliance.
The technical compliance of your email messages is achieved by aligning the SPF and DKIM protocols. The SPF protocol verifies to the receiver that the message sender has legitimate access to send emails, while the DKIM protocol verifies that the message sender’s identity is indeed valid. When these two protocols are aligned, they ensure that the reverse DNS of your IP (the Internet Protocol address) matches the domain of your visible “from” and “reply-to” addresses.
Your email will now leave your Reply Management System and travel to the recipient’s server.
Since now your email address with Reply-To in the header has achieved compliance, the receiving server will accept your email messages even with that additional Reply-To in the header.
In addition, depending on your DMARC plan, our Reply Management System will process any unsubscribe requests, handle deleting spam, and move any other replies to a designated address. It is highly configurable and easy to update with new addresses or modified addresses for your company.
Some Additional Manual Actions To Take
Effective DMARC reply-to implementations require several manual actions to be taken. These include verifying your identity with the receiver and/or communicating with them to confirm that your message is being received as-is, rather than as a result of malicious activity. This can be done by signing messages with your domain name, or by contacting the receiver and verifying your identity.
Sign Your Messages With Your Domain Name
It’s important to sign all outgoing emails so that they can be traced back to their source. Signing uses a digital signature, which adds an extra layer of authenticity and verification. For this reason, many businesses use their domain name as the value of the signature.
The best way to do this is by using DKIM. You can use the domain’s email address in the body of your message, or you can mention it in the header.
The DKIM signature includes a cryptographic hash of the message, which allows it to be verified by mail delivery agents as coming from the intended recipient. It also allows you to verify that no one has tampered with the message after it has been encrypted by its sender.
Mention Your Primary Email Address In The Body
To make your email messages with Reply-To in the header compliant for DMARC acceptance, you can mention in the body of your email that it was sent on behalf of your main business address. This way, the recipient can see that they’ve received an email from their main business address and not just an individual’s account.
You can mention this in the body of your email by using the following format:
To: [recipient]<[email address]>
From: <[your name]>
Subject: [your subject line] – [subject line]
Include Line 1 as follows: “This message was sent on behalf of <business name>.
Ask the Recipient to Whitelist Your Reply-To Address
Whitelisting a domain means that the domain will be allowed to send messages without having to check for feedback from the DMARC test because it has already been whitelisted by the receiver’s mailing server.
In addition, you must be willing to share your DMARC report with the receiver by giving them access to an aggregate report or by providing each recipient with their individualized report.
Contact Your DMARC service Provider for the Solution
It is possible to implement DMARC yourself as an email sender, but it is not recommended. If you do so, there are several ways in which your email will be blocked by the service provider (SP) of the receiving domain. This can lead to problems with email delivery and reputation management for both your company and its customers.
Because of these issues, it is best to work with a reputable DMARC service provider like PowerDMARC that understands how to implement DMARC correctly for you as an email sender. This will ensure that all SPs can correctly identify and achieve full compliance for a successful DMARC Reply-To implementation.
Sign up for a free DMARC trial today. Our service helps you protect your brand from spam by implementing a clear policy that makes it easier for recipients to understand what they can expect from the company they are receiving the email from—and that means your emails will be more likely to get opened and read!
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