Why a custom return-path might improve your email deliverability

September 28, 2021 | 2 minute read
Josh Nason
Senior Email Delivery Consultant
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An often-overlooked component of building up a sender reputation and getting more email into the inbox is setting up a custom return-path. The return-path is an address located in the header of every outbound message to collect and process bounce messages from providers.

Enabling a custom return-path that aligns with your sending domain acts as an aid in improving both deliverability and your sending reputation. Most mailbox providers check this domain upon receiving your emails. This customization is also the most likely way a provider will green light your sending domain because it’s a static address on every outgoing message.

For DMARC purposes, you can use a custom return-path to get into SPF alignment, as opposed to DKIM alignment. Providers see that the return-path domain matches the send-from domain and is authenticated with SPF. Having both SPF and DKIM alignment methods is the gold standard for DMARC compliance.

If you don’t use a custom return-path, the alternative is using your provider’s default return-path. However, if you want to put more control in your hands over your sending reputation, custom is the way to go.

Creation and implementation

Setting up a custom return-path is quick and easy to implement with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Email Delivery service, using the following steps:

  1. Create a subdomain from your sending domain, such as bounce.yoursendingdomain.com.

  2. Add an MX record for your specific sending region: ~10 bmta.email.<REGION IDENTIFIER>.oci.oraclecloud.com. A list of region codes can be found here.

  3. When you’ve made your DNS changes, contact our support team with the following information:

    • Your tenant OCID

    • Your SMTP endpoint used to submit mail

    • Your approved sender email address (and OCID if setting at Sender level)

    • Your custom return-path domain

Our team then makes the configuration changes so your new custom return-path points where you need it to. Then, you’re done.

Final thoughts

While it’s not the most glamorous aspect of email, getting the technical basics down is crucial to getting email to the inbox and building up a strong sender reputation. In a few short steps, you can have a custom return-path that puts you one step closer to full alignment with your sending.

For more information, see the following resources:

Josh Nason

Senior Email Delivery Consultant

An email marketing veteran of more than a decade, Josh came to Oracle through the acquisition of Dyn. He currently works on both the Dyn and OCI Email Delivery teams, both assisting customers with email delivery issues and helping keep the network clean.


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