You’ve worked hard to build an email marketing strategy for your Shopify store, but somehow your messages are still ending up in a digital graveyard – the spam folder.
The good news is there are many steps you can take to improve deliverability and land your Shopify emails in subscribers’ inboxes. In this guide we'll focus on simple, actionable steps you can take, no matter what your ecommerce experience level.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
1. Authentication and DMARC Policy: New regulations make these critical for all Shopify store owners
2. Best practices to improve your sender reputation
3. List management and cleanup
4. Alternatives to Shopify Email: if your emails always go to spam, it may be time to consider a new email service provider.
5. Hiring an expert to help: because sometimes you just can’t do it all
Email authentication can feel like a mess of technical jargon. Don’t worry if you’re confused by all the acronyms, we’re going to keep it simple. Instead of getting techy, we’ll walk you through the basics to keep your Shopify emails out of spam folders.
If you haven’t authenticated your Shopify Email yet, you likely received a message from Shopify telling you to authenticate and add a DMARC record to continue sending emails from your domain. Due to recent changes implemented by email giants Google and Yahoo, authentication and DMARC records are no longer optional for Shopify sellers.
To comply with these requirements in Shopify Email, there are the two things you need to do (instructions in the next section):
- First, tell Shopify that you are authorized to send emails from your domain by copying CNAME records from your Shopify admin into your domain provider DNS records. This is a basic form of authentication.
- Then, tell email providers what to do with emails that aren’t authenticated using a DMARC record. If someone pretends to be you with spam or phishing emails from your domain, your DMARC record can keep them out of people’s inboxes and protect your reputation.
In simple terms, Shopify Email authentication and DMARC involve copying and pasting bits of information in the right place and in the right order. It’s not difficult, but it must be done carefully.
Before we begin, make sure you have access to your domain provider account and know how to locate DNS management.
When using Shopify Email, CNAME records tell email servers (like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) that Shopify is authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain. This way, when you send an email from Shopify, it appears to come from your domain rather than from Shopify itself. For example:
When I send a message from Shopify Email, customers see: firstname.lastname@example.org
If I didn’t add a CNAME record, customers would see: email@example.com
Emails coming from your domain (rather than Shopify) look more professional and can greatly reduce the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.
Here’s how to add a CNAME record on Shopify:
1. Go to Settings > Notifications > Authenticate your Domain
2. Copy and paste the information from Shopify to your DNS records as shown below.
3. Repeat the process until all four CNAME records are copied into your DNS records.
4. Wait up to 24 hours for the changes to take effect, then come back to your Shopify settings and click “Authenticate” to finish the process.
You must have your CNAME record correctly configured before adding a DMARC record. Don’t move on to the next step until you’ve successfully completed CNAME authentication with Shopify.
To create a DMARC record, you need to enter a bit of code as a TXT file in your DNS settings.
A DMARC record can include all sorts of things, but for now, we’re just going to create a basic one which covers the new requirements set by Google and Yahoo.
A basic DMARC record includes the following information:
1. Required: The DMARC version. This will always be “DMARC1”
2. Required: Your DMARC policy. This is what you want to happen if an email from your domain doesn’t pass an authentication check.
You have three options here:
- none: emails will be delivered as usual.
- quarantine: emails will be sent to the spam folder
- reject: emails are outright rejected, usually with a bounce-back message
3. Optional: The email address where you want reports about DMARC activity to be sent
To write the code, we need a line of text with DMARC tags and values, separated by semicolons. You can find full instructions to do this manually here, however I strongly recommend using ChatGPT to speed things up.
Here’s how I created my DMARC record in 3 seconds:
After that, the DMARC record needs to be copied into the DNS management section of your domain provider, like we did with the CNAME records. Here’s what it looks like in my domain provider, yours may be slightly different.
After authenticating your Shopify Email and configuring your DMARC record, run a quick test to make sure you’ve done everything right.
If your messages are still landing in spam folders after successful authentication, it’s time to review Shopify Email best practices. These guidelines will help you build a strong sender reputation to improve your deliverability rates.
Just like in real life, building a good email sender reputation takes time. You may need to send high-quality emails to engaged subscribers for many months before seeing changes in your deliverability results.
Here are our top Shopify Email best practices to keep your messages out of the spam folder:
- Implement double opt in: Ask new subscribers to confirm their email address to ensure that your list is filled with people genuinely interested in your content.
- Segment your audience: Send targeted emails to smaller sections of your list to increase engagement. For example, you could create segments for first-time buyers, repeat customers, or those who showed interest in specific products. Then, send those people emails which are more relevant to them rather than blasting your whole list.
- Nail the subject line: Your subject line is the first impression. Keep it concise, engaging, and relevant. Complement your subject line with preview text that adds context. Try our subject line tester to preview how your email will look on different devices.
- Make it personal: Personalization, such as including the recipient's name, can also help keep your emails out of spam folders. For example, “Exclusive Offer Just for You, Sarah!” is more engaging than “Monthly Deals.”
- Send high-quality emails: Prioritize content quality in every email. Ensure all links work, the layout is clean, and the message is clear. A/B test different designs and messages to see what works best with your audience. Avoid spam triggers like excessive use of capital letters and exclamation marks. Also avoid spammy phrases, like “Earn $$$ fast!!”or “Congratulations! You’ve won!”
- Add your physical address to the footer: Depending on your location, you may be required to include a physical address in your emails to comply with anti-spam laws. If you're uncomfortable using your own address, consider renting a post office box.
- Send enough (but not too many) emails: Regular communication keeps your audience engaged and your brand top of mind. However, too many emails can lead to unsubscribes and spam complaints. Start with a monthly newsletter and adjust based on engagement and feedback.
- Optimize open tracking: Open rates are a key performance indicator (KPI) for any email marketing campaign, but it's also important to respect customer privacy. Select “optimize open tracking” in your Shopify Email settings to strike a balance and protect your sender reputation.
How you build and maintain a list of subscribers has a huge impact on Shopify Email deliverability.
To keep your Shopify emails out of the spam folder, we recommend the following strategies:
1. Build your list organically: Buying an email list can severely harm your domain's reputation and result in delivery issues. Instead, focus on building your list through:
- Email Sign-Up Forms on your Shopify store's homepage, checkout page, or blog.
- Lead Magnets: Offer incentives like discounts or freebies in exchange for email sign-ups.
- Social Media Campaigns: Encourage followers to subscribe to your emails with exclusive content.
2. Make it easy to unsubscribe: Making it difficult to unsubscribe can lead to increased spam complaints.
- Enable One-Click Unsubscribe in Shopify Email so your customers don’t get frustrated. This is also required to comply with the new policies set by Google and Yahoo.
- Ask for Feedback: Optionally, provide a short feedback form to understand why they are unsubscribing.
3. Remove unengaged subscribers: Regularly clean up your list to remove subscribers who are not opening your emails.
- Send a Re-engagement Campaign: Before removal, try to re-engage inactive subscribers with a special offer.
- Say Goodbye: If there's no response to your re-engagement efforts, remove inactive subscribers from your list.
4. Track Delivery Issues: Use Shopify Email analytics to monitor bounce rates (emails that couldn't be delivered) and complaint rates (subscribers who marked your email as spam).
- Maintain List Hygiene: Regularly update your list by removing invalid or fake email addresses.
- Address Issues Promptly: If you notice an increase in bounce or complaint rates, investigate and take action. Shopify Support can help you identify any technical problems and offer suggestions. If problems persist, it may be time to hire an expert.
Even if you’ve taken all the right steps, your Shopify emails might still end up in spam folders. If this happens consistently, it’s possible that your emails are being sent from an IP address with a poor reputation.
Many other senders using Shopify Email are associated with the same IP address. A shared Shopify IP address might have a poor reputation (or even be blacklisted) due to other senders’ spammy emails. As a result, your deliverability will suffer.
Unlike a sender reputation which depends only on you and your emails, Shopify Email’s IP reputation is outside your control. It’s not fair, but we don’t make the rules!
If your Shopify emails keep going to spam despite authenticating and following best practices, you might want to switch to an email service provider (ESP) with better deliverability rates. A good ESP will strictly enforce anti-spam policies to keep their IP reputation spotless.
Here are a few of our favorite ESPs that have ranked highly in our deliverability tests:
ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign has consistently scored highly in our deliverability tests. Their average over the last three tests sits comfortably at 93.4%. ActiveCampaign excels in providing advanced automation, offering tons of pre-built automation templates to run your email marketing on autopilot.
MailerLite: MailerLite stands out for its ease of use, making it a favorite for small ecommerce businesses. Over the last few rounds of testing, it averaged a decent 92.7% deliverability rate. MailerLite delivers emails reliably and its billing is straightforward – two things we really value in an ESP.
Mailchimp: Mailchimp has been inconsistent in their deliverability rates over the years, but we’re happy to report that they’ve shown a lot of improvement in our most recent tests. They currently enjoy a 92.6% deliverability average. Mailchimp offers a solid range of features suitable for businesses of all sizes. It isn’t the cheapest option on the market, but Mailchimp provides good value with a user-friendly interface and an extensive template library.
Running an ecommerce store is a full-time job, and grappling with email authentication and deliverability might not be where you want to focus your limited time.
That's where we at EmailTooltester come in. Our authentication service is designed to ensure your business adheres to key email regulations, saving you time and hassle.
Select which authentication setup is right for you:
Unsure about where your emails are ending up, or frustrated that they're still hitting spam filters despite your best efforts? Our email deliverability audit can uncover the root of the problem and guide you towards a solution. We’ll handle the technical side, so you can concentrate on growing your ecommerce business.
This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.Our Methodology