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Email is an indispensable tool marketers use to communicate with customers and prospects.

Its extensive reach, low cost, and ease of customization constitute a surefire way to generate strong, dependable ROI.

But it doesn't come without risks to brands: It attracts hackers who impersonate brands and domains and use them for malware installation, phishing, scams, and spoofing. In March 2021, hackers targeted and attacked 465 brands—a nearly 28% increase from the preceding year.

Brands must protect themselves and their customers by incorporating the latest innovations in email authentication into their marketing tech stack.

But protecting your brand doesn't merely stop nefarious "bad stuff"—it also provides additional ROI for your digital marketing.

Email marketing security protects brands, campaigns, and customers

Email marketers are constantly bombarded with suggestions for improving deliverability and open rates, maintaining consumer privacy under laws such as GDPR and CCPA, and dealing with mailbox policy changes such as Apple's Mail Privacy Protection updates.

Wouldn't it be nice to have one tool that was certain to make a difference and work consistently?

Enter Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, or DMARC. This protocol—the gold standard for strong email authentication—ensures that only email actually authorized by your brand reaches your users. It provides a layer of protection to prevent hackers and other unauthorized users from targeting employees and customers with malicious emails that contain phishing links or other suspicious attachments.

And, best of all, by stopping malicious traffic sent in your name, it improves your reputation and deliverability.

Not authenticating emails? Proceed at your own risk

In 2020, attackers impersonating trusted users within organizations cost companies $1.8 billion in financial losses because of "business email compromise" (BEC), the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI IC3) reported.

Although many strategies have an impact on improving email deliverability, DMARC helps brands protect themselves. In addition to stopping phishing attacks, DMARC offers a protective wall preventing unauthorized users from impersonating a brand and sending emails with harmful intent. That additional layer of protection boosts customers' confidence and their trust in the emails they receive.

All brands are phished, and heavily phished brands can dramatically improve their deliverability rates after implementing DMARC.

DMARC stops the most painful BEC attacks

BEC attacks are rising. A full 71% of organizations experienced a BEC attack in 2020, a GreatHorn report found.

BEC refers to specific phishing attacks where hackers target and access business email accounts of company leaders, such as CEOs or CFOs. But those hackers don't target and impersonate individual people alone:

  • 68% of spear-phishing emails display company names.
  • 66% display the names of individual targets.
  • 53% appear to come from bosses or managers.

By classifying a cybercriminal's attempted use of your domain as unauthenticated—and therefore untrustworthy—DMARC blocks emails from even making it to their intended recipient.

After recognizing DMARC's efficacy in stopping BEC attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already mandated implementing the protocol for all US civilian federal government agencies.

Collaboration between security and marketing builds brand resilience

Although it can feel overwhelming to start the process of email authentication, brands benefit when security and marketing leaders share the mission of implementing DMARC.

The multifaceted process invites conversations between marketing and security teams about the risks inherent in email communication. Each department brings its own specialty, and it's important that each side understands the other's goals.

Marketing should offer insight into the tools, tactics, and strategies they use to drive conversion rates and increase revenue, whereas Security should explain the rationale behind needing stricter security controls to avoid noncompliance with regulations and highlight the direct and indirect financial consequences of a successful BEC attack.

To earn buy-in for incorporating DMARC as a digital marketing tool, both sides need a deeper understanding of each other's motivations and priorities.

Brands benefit from DMARC

DMARC strengthens and protects an organization's brand by cementing its trusted sender reputation.

Because DMARC prevents cybercriminals from co-opting and using domain names for malicious use, organization risk decreases.

To put it simply, when organizations publish a DMARC record for their domains and enforce that policy on inbound mail from external sources, they're less likely to face breaches that...

  • Drain time and resources
  • Garner legal action and regulatory fines
  • Trigger additional audit or security requirements
  • Damage brand reputation and erode customer trust

DMARC also provides visibility into the email being sent in your name, including data on the sources of messages and whether they properly authenticate. For security teams, that understanding can be deeply valuable.

Another value of DMARC? It's a prerequisite for Brand Indicators for Message Identification: BIMI enables businesses and organizations to incorporate verified logos in supported emails in exchange for putting the security of DMARC in place.

DMARC and BIMI can give brands outsized results in the inbox and increase overall brand experience.

More Resources on Email Security

Unlock the Full Potential of Your Email Marketing Efforts With VMCs and BIMI

Why B2B Brands Face Unique—and Sometimes Self-Inflicted—Email Deliverability Challenges

Why You Need to Take Domain Name Security Seriously

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Seth Blank

Seth Blank is a serial entrepreneur and startup executive with multiple acquisitions under his belt. He brings 20 years of experience in building successful teams and scalable, profitable technologies.

LinkedIn: Seth Blank