We receive a lot of enquiries about how to help emails end up in the appropriate inbox and not hidden away in the SPAM or Junk folder. To be honest, this is a tricky question as it doesn't take much for this to happen. Email providers these days are fairly quick to start marking emails from a domain or a server's IP address as spam, for example too many emails sent to their recipients, just a few being accidently marked as spam by the recipients or some words within the email can do it. Troubleshooting the issue can be hard work and labour intensive.
The first thing to identify is if it's emails from your inbox or from your website that are having the issue. In either case having an SPF record in your DNS can certainly help with deliverability. An SPF record tells receiving email providers who is authorised to send mail on behalf of that domain. Please note, you should only ever have one SPF record, so merge all authorised 'senders' in to one request. Here's an example of an SPF record:
v=spf1 ip4:220.127.116.11 include:_spf.google.com ~all
This SPF record tells us us that the server with the IP address of 18.104.22.168 and Google are both allowed to send mail on behalf of that domain. If there was another server authorised you would add it like this:
v=spf1 ip4:22.214.171.124 ip4:126.96.36.199 include:_spf.google.com ~all
Or perhaps you use an outside company for mail shots:
v=spf1 include:servers.mail.net include:_spf.google.com ~all
This tells you that servers.mail.net and Google are authorised.
The other thing to note is that the example end ~all this indicates a 'soft' fail, emails will go through from other senders but will end up in SPAM. Using -all is a 'hard' fail and will result in emails being rejected.
MXTools have a really good SPF record checker which will look for your SPF record and let you know if it can see any issues with it.
The SPF record needs to be added in to your DNS zone which is located on the nameservers that you use, and the type is a TXT record. Which nameservers you use is set with where your domain is registered, if you're not sure then a couple of useful tools are who.is or gwhois.net. If you use our nameservers you can edit your DNS by following this guide.
If you've added an SPF and it's still happening then let's go back to which emails having an issue. If it's the ones from your inbox then you need to contact your email provider, our servers don't host email so it's not likely to be us so unfortunately we won't be able to help. If it's emails from your website then here are a few more tips for you.
We really, really, REALLY recommend using SMTP relay. This will then bypass the server for sending these emails out and will instead use a system created and focussed on delivering your emails. There are a number of companies out there that do it, please search the internet for SMTP Relay and take a look for one that fits you. Once you're signed up we have a new feature which will help you set it up on the server. Here's a guide for that.
When you're sending emails from your website always set the sending email address in the CMS (content management system), otherwise all mail is sent from the site's default email address (assigned by the server) which is made up and will be something like firstname.lastname@example.org As this isn't a real email address, with no relevant DNS to verify it validity, emails will end up in Junk or just not delivered. Setting the default sending email address means that your server's IP address needs to be in your SPF record, or again emails will end up in junk.