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Maximizing Email Marketing Success for Community Banks: The Power of DMARC, SPF, DKIM, and More

Digital Marketing

Maximizing Email Marketing Success for Community Banks: The Power of DMARC, SPF, DKIM, and More

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of DigitalRCP.com, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.

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Summary:

In the fast-evolving landscape of digital marketing, community banks are constantly seeking ways to engage customers and prospects effectively. One tool that often goes overlooked but plays a critical role in your communication strategy is email marketing. When done properly, it can be one of the most powerful ways to convey a message and engage your audience, but you need to make sure you’re doing it the right way. 

One important factor in getting your email delivered (so that your audience can even read it) is making sure that your DMARC, SPF, and DKIM settings are in place. This is such an important step that Yahoo and Google are making big changes to their email delivery policies starting in February 2024, and suspect other platforms will follow along in their footsteps. 

In this article, we'll delve into why these email authentication methods are vital for secure and reliable email delivery for community banks. We'll also explore the immense potential of email marketing, leveraging strategic tactics such as segmentation, personalization, A/B testing, and more.

Establishing a Foundation of Trust: DMARC, SPF, and DKIM

Before we dive into the exciting world of email marketing strategies, let's establish a secure foundation. You can think of DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance), SPF (Sender Policy Framework), and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) as the sentinels guarding the gates of your email communications. They ensure that your emails reach the intended recipients without falling prey to spam filters or phishing attempts.

  • DMARC: DMARC adds an extra layer of protection by authenticating your domain and specifying how email receivers should handle unauthenticated emails. It prevents cybercriminals from using your domain for malicious purposes.
  • SPF: SPF defines which mail servers are authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain. It's like handing out a guest list to the bouncer at the email club, ensuring that only legitimate senders get in.
  • DKIM: DKIM, on the other hand, signs your emails with a cryptographic signature, proving they haven't been tampered with during transit. It's the digital seal of authenticity.

Check Your Own Domain’s DMARC Status

Given the growing importance of these settings, it’s no surprise that there are several tools available online to check the settings of your DMARC status. One of the sites that we use here at WSI is the DMARC Domain Checker. This allows you to enter your domain and after running its analysis, you’ll receive a response like the one below.

Domain check

The Power of Email Marketing: Opportunities Await

With your email infrastructure secured, it's time to unleash the full potential of email marketing. Community banks have a unique advantage in this arena, given their local presence and customer-centric approach.

  • Segmentation: Understand your customers' needs, whether they're homeowners, business owners, or retirees. Tailor your messages accordingly to create a more personal connection.
  • Personalization: Use customer data to personalize emails. Address recipients by name, recommend relevant products or services, or think about sending birthday wishes. Personalization increases engagement. One tip here: Just make sure that you Title Case your customer’s names if exporting information out of the core, as most banking systems still keep name information in ALL CAPAS (and you shouldn’t be YELLING at your email recipient)! 
  • A/B Testing: Experiment with different subject lines, content, and call-to-action buttons to see what resonates best with your audience. Data-driven decision-making is key.
  • Content is King: Provide valuable content in your emails, such as financial tips, community news, or exclusive offers. Show that you're more than just a bank; you're a trusted advisor.
  • Linking for the Details: You may not want to give them everything in the email. It’s a great opportunity to bring the reader back to your website, engage on your social channels, or even download helpful information. 

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Yahoo and Google's DMARC Changes

As of February 2024, Yahoo and Google are tightening their DMARC requirements and enforcement. This means your bank's emails must comply with stricter authentication standards to avoid being marked as spam. Ensure that your DMARC, SPF, and DKIM records are up to date and correctly configured.

Partnering for Success

At WSI, we understand the power of email marketing, and we're here to help community banks harness it effectively. We're proud strategic partners of Constant Contact and HubSpot, both of which offer advanced CRM and lead generation systems. These powerful marketing automation tools can be invaluable assets in your digital marketing (and email messaging) arsenal.

As community bankers, you have a unique opportunity to connect with your local audience and build lasting relationships through email marketing. By ensuring your technology team has secured your email infrastructure with the recommended DMARC, SPF, and DKIM settings and embracing best practices from a marketing perspective, you'll not only comply with industry standards but also create meaningful interactions that drive results.

Remember, at WSI, we're here to assist you on your digital marketing journey. If you have any questions or need guidance on email marketing or any other aspect of your digital strategy, don't hesitate to reach out. Together we can elevate your community bank's online presence and customer engagement. Interested in receiving emails from us? Opt in now!

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