What is a verified sending domain?
A verified sending domain allows you to set up authentication records (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) with your web host. This tells mailbox providers like Gmail and Microsoft that you are a real business, and you have given ConvertKit permission to send using your domain on your behalf.
Want more nitty gritty details? We've added more information to the bottom of this article.
Note: It is possible that you will see a temporary drop in open rates after setting up a verified sending domain. This is because mailbox providers re-evaluate your sender reputation any time there is a major change to the way you send email (IP address, from-address, return-path address, DKIM-signing domain, etc.)
While your reputation is being re-calculated, it is normal to see open rates temporarily drop or improve.
They should return to normal after sending through your verified sending domain consistently for 2-3 weeks. Suppressing cold subscribers for 2 weeks is a great way to speed up the reputation calculation process.
Enable your VSD easily with our new tool
Click your account name at the top right of the ConvertKit dashboard, followed by Settings. Then, click Email in the left sidebar.
Under the Verified Sending Domains section, click Set up your verified sending domain (if you've added a verified sending domain to your account previously, click Add a Verified Sending Domain instead).
Enter the domain that you want to verify for sending (note: you cannot use a subdomain), and click Next.
Click set this up for me and follow the prompts. You may need to know who your DNS host is and the login to that account.
You will see a pop up for Entri
Click continue. Entri may find your DNS provider for you. You may be asked to find your DNS provider on your own. Once you log in to your DNS provider Entri will begin configuring your domain.
You’ll be asked to log in to your DNS provider in the pop up. Entri will get to work on configuring your domain after you log in.
Finally, you may need to click “validate” once the domain has been configured. Note: this may take a few minutes so be sure to give the system enough time to reflect the changes.
Manual Setup instructions
To set this up, you'll need a basic understanding of CNAME records.
How to set up a verified sending domain
To get started:
Click your account name at the top right of the ConvertKit dashboard, followed by Settings. Then, click Email in the left sidebar
Under the Verified Sending Domains section, click Verify your domain (if you've added a verified sending domain to your account previously, click Add a Verified Sending Domain instead)
Enter the domain that you want to verify for sending (note: you cannot use a subdomain), and click Next
Add the records that appear to your domain's DNS records manager. For more information on this, see the "Configuring your records" section below.
Once you've added the records, click Validate
If your records are set up correctly, you will see a message that your sending domain is verified. Some hosting providers require truncated versions of the host values (for example, just ckespa instead of ckespa.yourdomain.com, and just cka._domainkey instead of cka._domainkey.yourdomain.com). You can find instructions for the most commonly used hosting providers at the bottom of this article. If you continue to have trouble after trying both full and truncated versions of the host values, we recommend reaching out to your hosting support or an IT professional for assistance.
Configuring your records
Once you get the DNS records from ConvertKit (in Step 4 above), you need to configure your records with your DNS.
Do I need to set up a subdomain?
Short answer: no.
We do ask you to set up your CNAME records on a top-level domain.
Your authentication records will not interfere with your top-level domain.
If your DNS provider is suggesting you set up a totally separate subdomain, please feel free to reach out to us so we can help walk you through how to communicate with them.
Behind the scenes of verified sending domains
Your deliverability is based on a few factors. One of the most important is your sender reputation.
Your domain has its own reputation at each of the mailbox providers (Gmail, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.). You can think of this sort of like a credit score. Your sending reputation is the most important factor that determines whether your message is placed in the inbox or the spam folder.
There are two from-addresses in an email: one for machines (return-path), and one for humans (friendly-from). The return-path is hidden in the message headers, but the friendly-from address is visible to your subscribers.
By default, your friendly-from address will be your sending address that you choose to send from, and the return-path will be a ConvertKit address (convertkit.com).
If you need strict authentication on your domain or want to have more control over your message's reputation, a verified sending domain will:
Put your from-address in the return-path (the from-address that machines see)
DKIM-sign your messages using your domain
Authenticate with SPF using your domain
Allow your ConvertKit messages to pass DMARC