All You Need to Know About Whitelabeling

Overview

Have you ever noticed that email you send through your SendGrid account displays “sent on behalf of” or “via sendgrid.me” as the message signing entity and wondered how to get rid of it?  Depending on your package type, you may have access to a very useful feature that we refer to as whitelabeling.  So, what is it?  Whitelabeling is a process that allows you to mask SendGrid as your relay point in all of your emails and replace it with your domain.  This can be accomplished with the addition of a few new DNS records and can lead to a better sending reputation and more consistent inbox delivery.

Who?

All users on the Silver package and higher with a dedicated IP address have access to whitelabeling.

How?

The whitelabeling process involves the creation of several new DNS records which establish a new subdomain in your domain registrar.  When creating this new subdomain it is very important to choose one that has not yet been established within your DNS settings in order to avoid conflicting records.  We also highly recommend that you do not choose “sendgrid” as your subdomain, since doing so would defeat the purpose of whitelabeling!

These records all work in tandem in order to remove SendGrid as the message signing entity and display your chosen subdomain as the authenticated sender.  Please refer to our whitelabeling article for more information on the process and required DNS records.  More of a visual learner?  Check out this video walkthrough that one of our support gurus, Mohammed, has so graciously contributed.

The Records

To complete the whitelabeling process you will need to create five DNS records as stated in the article and video above.

1.  SPF Record (Sender Policy Framework)

What it should look like:

yourdomain.com.  |  TXT  |  v=spf1 a mx include:sendgrid.net ~all

What it does:

A Sender Policy Framework record states what domains and IPs are allowed to send on your behalf.  If SendGrid is not included in your SPF record then we will not be able to send on your behalf and you will probably receive bounces pertaining to authentication issues.  If you already have an existing SPF record for your domain then you will just need to append “include:sendgrid.net” to that current record at the end, but before the “all” mechanism.

Please note:  We recommend configuring your “all” mechanism to be a soft fail, which is expressed as “~all” at the end of your SPF record.

2.  CNAME Record (Canonical Name)

What it should look like:

subdomain.yourdomain.com.  |  CNAME  |  sendgrid.net.

What it does:

The CNAME record creates an alias for subdomain.yourdomain.com and points to sendgrid.net.  The CNAME is needed for our click and open tracking features in order for those statistics to be routed back to your SendGrid account.  This will also be what your messages are signed by, so your recipients will be able see what you have chosen for your CNAME.

3. & 4.  DKIM Records (Domainkeys Identified Mail)

What it should look like:

smtpapi._domainkey.yourdomain.com.  |  TXT or CNAME  |  value

smtpapi._domainkey.subdomain.yourdomain.com.  |  TXT or CNAME  |  value

TXT value: k=rsa; t=s; p=MIGfMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA4GNADCBiQKBgQDPtW5iwpXVPiH5FzJ7Nrl8USzuY9zqqzjE0D1r04xDN6qwziDnmgcFNNfMewVKN2D1O+2J9N14hRprzByFwfQW76yojh54Xu3uSbQ3JP0A7k8o8GutRF8zbFUA8n0ZH2y0cIEjMliXY4W4LwPA7m4q0ObmvSjhd63O9d8z1XkUBwIDAQAB

CNAME value: dkim.sendgrid.net

What it does:

The DKIM records are responsible for associating a domain with a message, which allows a person or organization to take responsibility for that message.  When an email is sent the DKIM signature is included as a part of the message headers.  The recipient server then gathers that digital signature and tries to match it with the public DNS records for the domain that sent the message.  If the message signature matches the DNS records then DKIM will pass and the message will be accepted.

5.  A Record (Address)

What it should look like:

o1.subdomain.yourdomain.com.  |  A  |  192.168.250.1

What it does:

The A record is what links your dedicated IP address back to your chosen subdomain.  Creating this record will point traffic for o1.subdomain.yourdomain.com back to your dedicated IP, and vice versa.  You can create multiple A records for a domain with as many IP addresses as you wish, however you can only whitelabel one IP to one domain at a time.

Implementation

After you start the whitelabel wizard you will be presented with a list of these five records that have been specified to match your domain and chosen subdomain (our system uses “email” as the subdomain by default, but this is not mandatory).  Next, you will want to add these records to your DNS settings.  Depending on your hosting provider, the time it takes for these new records to propagate publicly will vary between 10 minutes and up to 48 hours.

After those records have become public facing you will be able to verify them within the wizard and your whitelabeling process will be complete.  If you notice that any records are not validating after you have added them to your DNS settings then it means that either the record was improperly configured or it has not become public yet.  You can use www.xnnd.com in order to verify that your records have propagated in case you don’t want to keep the whitelabel wizard page open (you can re-run the wizard at any time).

We understand that this process can be challenging, especially on the first attempt, so if you have any questions or concerns about whitelabeling then please feel free to contact our support team.  We’re here to help!

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