What is a custom return-path and why is it important?

What is a custom return-path and why is it important?

When you send an email campaign, you can gauge the performance of the emails that land in the inbox by calculating the open rate, click to open rate, and more. But what happens to the emails that bounce? Is there a technique to handle email bounce? Yes, you can use the return-path address to monitor email bounces.

What is a return-path address? 

The return-path address is an SMTP address used by email senders to receive notifications about email bounces. Email senders can analyze the bounce receipts and take necessary corrective measures. It's important to understand that an email can have only one return-path address. You can find the return-path address in the email header. 

Click here to learn more about viewing the return-path address for various email clients.

The role of the return-path address in email authentication

To offer a safe email experience for their users, mailbox providers thoroughly scrutinize the emails they receive. This includes the emails sent by legitimate businesses as well. When mailbox providers receive emails, they validate them by verifying SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. For an email to pass the DMARC validation, it must either pass the SPF authentication and alignment or DKIM authentication and alignment.

For example, if the sender address is mail@mybusiness.com and the return-path address is bounce@zylker.com, the domain of the sender address and the return-path address does not match. In this situation, the SPF alignment will fail. In this situation, if you had implemented DKIM and if its validation and alignment passes, DMARC validation will be successful. The best way to achieve SPF alignment is by having a custom return-path address.

What is a custom return-path address? 

A custom return-path address will use the domain that is used by the sender address. For example, if your sender domain is zylker.com you can create a custom return-path address as bounces@bounce.zylker.com. When the domain of your sender address and that of your return-path address match, you can achieve SPF alignment.

Advantages of using a custom return-path 

Having a custom return-path address is very beneficial as it will help your emails pass the SPF alignment in DMARC validation. When DMARC validation is successful, you can implement ‌Brand Indicators for Message Identification‌ (BIMI), an emerging email authentication technique. BIMI intends to help email recipients identify trustworthy email senders by displaying the logo of businesses next to their email in the inbox. So, having a custom return-path address will help you secure your sender domain and increase the chances of achieving inbox placement for your emails.

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