In today’s post I want to focus on the skeleton of an email. Moreover, a part of the skeleton that a lot of email marketers tend to ignore. I’m talking about the “From” address.
It seems to me that countless senders, especially in the beginning of their career as email marketers, ignore the “from” field. I noticed that a lot of our smaller customers treat this part as something that’s just there for the sake of being or something that simply needs to be filled, not giving any though to what they are going to place there, as long as it’s filled.
The truth here is quite the opposite. In fact, you should treat this address more as your personal ID. After all, this is one of the first things that ISPs, and later your subscribers, look at. This is the true indicator of who sent this message.
Read more: How to improve your email deliverability
Why you should use a custom email domain
Let’s start by discussing the importance of using your own domain in your sends. I know that it’s a lot simpler to just use the email address you had for years, that was created with some of the free providers. I will not go so far as to say that this will delay your deliverability (if you do everything else correctly then your deliverability will still be off the charts), but making it on your own domain can still benefit you in a couple of ways:
- From fields based on free email addresses are a bit looked upon due to the fact that they are so easy to create (a lot of spammers just roll through them by creating a new one for each send).
- There already are ISPs that block the use of their domain in From addresses through their DMARC setting (so far, yahoo.com and aol.com). The general feel in the anti-abuse community is that other ISP will also make this change at some point.
- From address on a private domain seems to be also a bit more trustworthy. After all, it is you who controls the domain and allows or creates new accounts on it.
- From address on private domain makes you look more professional (a lot of subscribers does in fact look at this).
It is not really necessary, but a good practice, and something you should really consider if you want to keep to the best practices of email marketing. Now, if you’re convinced, what’s next?
I would say that the hardest part here is figuring out a proper domain name. In my mind this is just as important as figuring out your company name. The idea here is that once you start use this domain you should stick to it. It becomes your brand, it “stores” your reputation, it is something that your subscribers will see with each of your sends and associate with you – so make sure that the domain you decide on suits you.
How to choose a custom email domain – best practices
To make it a bit simpler (or just narrow down the choices a bit :)) here are a few guidelines you should keep while deciding on the domain name:
1. It needs to refer to you
Meaning that if needs to relate to the name you identify yourself under, being it company name, your own name or an alias you came up with. The key thing here is that if someone subscribes to your list they should not have any issue in associating this domain with that subscription (so in other words with you).
For example, for me registering a domain name: “buyakasha.com” would accomplish nothing, whereas domain “irekgr.com” or “irekrybinski.com” can instantly be associated with me and, in the first case my company.
2. It should be unique
Now I know that all domains are unique as you cannot register a domain name that someone else already registered, however, registering a domain similar or even almost identical to an already recognized brand can easily backfire.
I mean, people should instantly think of you when they see it, not about some other company. Trying to give yourself a bit of a head start with a domain similar to something your subscribers probably already know can easily backfire in form of phishing accusations.
3. It should be for years to come
This is why I wrote that you should be comfortable with your choice, once you decide on your domain you should stick to it. One of the worst things you can do is jumping domains every other week. Instead of building reputation and trust with ISPs and subscribers the effect will be opposite.
Also, one of the things ISPs check while looking at a domain is how long was it in use, so every new domain not only resets the progress you made, it even sets you back a bit. And I’m not talking from address only here, it refers to all of the links that you use in your message, so again: constancy is the way to go.
The technical aspect of registering a domain
Nowadays this topic is so easy to tackle, that I do not think it’s necessary for me to go through it. Just google for a hosting company you like (there is also a lot of site ranks for that) and go to their site to register. Hey, if you can send emails you will also be able to easily register a domain.
There is one more technical aspect here however that needs to be addresses: the WhoIs record of your domain.
For those of you that do not know, while registering a domain you provide your information such as name or contact info. Later this can be access through the WhoIs record of your domain. For example if you go to: http://who.is and check the information for getresponse.com domain you will find our CEO name, company name, physical address, phone number, and email address.
This is in place in order to allow for easy contact if there will be something that we need to address, ie. someone is abusing our platform, someone finding irregularities, or violations on our site, etc.
There are also companies that specialize in hiding this information, making it impossible to retrieve this data. I noticed that there is a large group of senders that does in fact use those companies to hide their data. Most of the time when I asked why they do it I received an answer that this is to protect their information, which for me is not really a reason and here’s why: your information is already out there.
When you decide to use the Internet to help your business out, or even run your business through it, you have to give this information one way or the other. Otherwise you’re just a person that tries to do business without actually saying who is behind it. Now would you trust that person? I know I wouldn’t.
Back to the point, a lot of companies (ISPs, anti-spam organizations) also often checks this record, and if they see that this information is blocked you are automatically a suspect. I think that Return-Path (provider of the one of still most respected sender certification programs) puts it the best here: if you do everything how you should, you don’t have a reason to hide your identity.