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Email Marketing / Debate on What domain to send from, I am involved in a large group on LinkedIn and we are having a conversation about email marketing.

I would love to know peoples thoughts on whether you should use a custom domain when email marketing instead of your website domain. What are your views?

One of the people in the group wrote:-

Dotmailer, Mailchimp and Constant Contact have very similar reporting functions and include all the features mentioned in Jonny's offering and I don't see how it would be cheaper to go through Jonny or anyone else. Prices are shown on all these sites.
One of the most misleading comments or tips on Jonny's site is this one..."what email address do you send from? – DON’T use your website domain, you could harm either your email deliverability or more so your importance of your own domain! If your emails get classed as spam your website gets classed as spam too! Use either a custom email address of a custom domain, for example or" This is, quite simply, misleading advice.
Using alias email addresses attached to "unknown" domains or are only going to create more distrust in the receipient's mind and spam filters do not like aliases or what are often regarded as spoof email addresses.
For many of the best practice guidelines, please just read the various FAQ and tips pages on various email sending software sites mentioned above...they are extremely helpful and factual... or give me a call.

I replied with:-

Thanks for your comments XXXX,

As a dotMailer reseller I can offer their enterprise portal (set up price £995) for a set up price of £0-£250 depending on needs, and the costs of sends is also cheaper than going direct. It would be silly for me to say I can offer a cheaper package if I can’t?!

The simple reason being is that as a reseller, I have already paid all the upfront costs, and I have a number of clients using portals under my agreement which means the deal I get with dotMailer is a better deal than an individual going direct. Unless you are sending circa 100k emails per month yourselves coming to me would be cheaper.

With regards sending emails from your website domain, if you were to ask dotMailer (one of the uk’s biggest email marketing broadcasters) they would categorically advise you not to send from your own domain. See (Can I send from my own email address?) (AS XXXXXX SAYS "For many of the best practice guidelines, please just read the various FAQ and tips pages on various email sending software sites mentioned above...they are extremely helpful and factual..." ;-)

Let’s think as a human for a moment, and ignore anything that we may or may not have read. Your website is and you have just sent 5000 emails out, let’s say that 10% of the users class that email as spam. The next time you try to email one of your friends or clients from there is a potential that has been blacklisted. You friend or clients email client checks the spam blacklist, sees that is on it and wow you suddenly have created email deliverability problems for your own brand!

Let’s be more specific, a customer of yours has had enough of your marketing emails, classes it as spam, wether that was in outlook, gmail, Hotmail etc. He than makes an order from you next week, but you can no longer email him to advise him about his order as his email client automatically puts in into junk!

Moving onto search rankings, Matt Cutts from google has said online that "email reputation does not effect ranks", but again thinking as a human being, if Gmail (the biggest email provider in the world and owned by Google) get reports from its users that is sending spam emails (simply by users clicking “mark as spam”) would it not make perfect sense that Google search may think, hang on a minute is sending a load of spam out, are they really more important than

In answer to how using a new/unknown domain creates distrust, this is simply not the case if done correctly. Taking dotMailer again as the example, you have two choices, the first choice is to use their domain which is extremely highly trusted by all the major ISP’s or alternatively using or similar, would be sent from dotMailers own servers with SPF records that clearly indicate to the ISP’s that the email has been sent from dotMailer, again a trusted and reputable company.

Does it not make sense to protect your brand and your domain, I think so, I think that companies have to do everything in their power to protect their domain name. It makes sense that you want to ensure that your own customers receive your normal company emails and email marketing can have the potential to stop that. And if there is any doubt in your mind that Google could use it in there ranking algorithm whether that is now or in the future, then again you have to separate them. And finally if there is no downside, then why not?

I welcome further thoughts and feedback on this one, and wonder why Boots use, Pizza Express use and dotMailer use ?

AJ Kohn's profile photoChris Lang's profile photoJonny Ross's profile photoJonny Ross Consultancy Ltd's profile photo
I second it, Jonny. When Matt Cuttis says "email reputation doesn't count" he is talking about how it is now, and with Google we never know when it will start using that reputation as a "quality signal".

And your line of thought on protecting your domain from being marked as spam is right. and I think even if it's not that clear, why take chances? You never know when 'email reputation" will become a quality signal and it turns out to be too late.

As far as lack of trust with new domain is concerned, one can overcome it by having similar sounding domain...i think adding mail or domain at the end (like should do the trick.
Yes, you should be using a different domain to sent from. But in my opinion you should use a sub domain instead of a completely new domain. The latter is a commonly used tactic of phishing emails: Use a domain that looks a lot like the real domain and abuse the people who think the mail is sent by the original company behind the 'normal' domain. Since sub domains can only be set by the domain name holder, these domains are more secure in my opinion. And yes, SPF records can be used, but the end-user isn't aware of these techniques. Here in the Netherlands there are commercials on TV that advise to check which domain a mail is sent from to prevent phishing. Chances are that mails from a different domain get marked as spam because of these 'altered' domain names.

We advice our customers to use sub domains such as or

Also, there is another problem if a newsletter generates more than 10% of spam complaints (or even more than 5%) ;-) A good list hardly ever generates much spam complaints. And good lists (double opt-in!) should always be the main concern of every email marketeer.

In short: Yes use a sub domain to sent your email from, but be aware that it does not trigger people into thinking your domain is a phishing domain.
@bikram thanks for your thoughts, i would agree, you just never know what google may do next, so you have to be doing something not only to protect your ranks but also your email reputation.

@Maarten great to see an insight from the netherlands! And wow that you have TV commercials advising you to check the domain a mail is sent from!!

yes the more you say the more sense it makes to use a sub domain, whilst protecting your main domain you are also managing to keep your brand url! like it!

the 10% was a fictitious and i would agree, you would have serious problems if that was the case!!! i suppose i was just trying to make a point! double opt-in's are absolutely the way forward!

thanks to both of you, interested to hear what anyone else has to say
Won't using sub domain on the "brand site" create a problem for the main domain when people mark the mails as spam?

I think one can even try other extension of the same domain. For example, if the main domain is one can try sending mails from or something like that, and inform users which ID they will receive mails from...

Just a thought...could be wrong
For anyone that is following this post, The link below is an email marketing benchmarking report into retail marketing performance and well worth a read:

Now i can't speak for all, but some email service providers (ESPs) may not fully support best practice guidelines in email marketing and some allow the "spoofing" of email addresses (pretending your email comes from, where in fact it doesn’t - the true address is hidden behind).

Certain spam filters and ISPs are filtering this traffic out (so although it is marked as delivered) the ISP may well have marked it as junk, quarantined or even silently deleted your email. This will mean that the recipient may not see your email, meaning a lost sales or relationship management opportunity. Moreover this will affect your sending reputation for future campaigns.

The best practice solution around this is to…follow best practice by:
1. Having a dedicated sending domain (new or vacant sub domain setup for your bulk email communications.)

This could be
Creating a club (identity) behind your marketing efforts (alias@companyxclub/, setting up a sub domain (should your registrar allow)
Larger clients go further and also set up a dedicated IP address for their own marketing activity. Some clients even register with certified email services such as Return Paths Sender Score certified (something we partner with for the clients that require this).

2. Ensuring your data is of a good quality and actively kept up to date. - I can’t speak for every ESP, but dotMailer as standard offers integration within the major ISP feedback loops to ensure that every recipient who has marked you as junk or spam in their email client is taken off your email list. ISPs also build their own reputation for or against you depending on your own sending activity/history to that domain. Also managing hard and soft bounces is a must.

3. Ensure your emails are ISP and inbox friendly – too many points to mention here, but this is down to common sense, testing to see what works and sticking to best practice guidelines. The links below are a good starting point!
I. Best practice
II. Creative/technical best practice
III. General email delivery

4. Good expertise at hand – having someone to help you navigate the minefield that can be email marketing is a must. This can save you making costly mistakes to your brand and online reputation and avoid losing customers unnecessarily. Accountability is good, but professional guidance coupled with this is much better! If anyone does require more information, please feel free to get in touch and apologies for the essay!

When talking about 'risking your domain' and 'protecting your reputation' I think the main fear is risking the deliverability of other channels on the same domain.

For example, if you're sending out promotional and transactional emails, you should always separate the two, so if you decide one day to test a new way to promote your products in a more aggressive manner, you're not risking the deliverability of your transactional emails which are vital.

The above example is relevant to your question, which is why should I use a sending domain which is not my root domain. The reason for that is that if you are marked as spammer on your promotional emails, you don't want this to affect you B2B efforts (for example) in which you approach companies with your myname [at] or any other internal communications that you use with your root domain.

Note: When you separate the sending domain you should also use different IP addresses for each channel.
+Ian Weinstock makes an interesting read ( well i have skimmed so far, lots of pages to go through ) thanks for the info, and even more best practice advice!!!! I love dotMailer!! :-)

+Or Weinberger yes i agree, forgetting ranks in search engines, you could harm your email reputation and that is something all companies should protect. Think you hit the nail on the head with promotional and transactional emails should always be seperate.

what are other peoples thoughts on this? some would strongly disagree, i'd be interested to hear all sides.

+Jonny Ross I've recently had this problem where a spammer has been sending emails with the sender as an email on our root domain. This has caused no end of trouble with Spam filters.

Luckily when we set the business up our billing/transactional/support emails were setup on one sub-domain & our marketing list emails are set to another sub domain.

We only use the root domain email addresses for inbound emails now.

So I totally agree with the advice on here as its so easy for a spammer to fake the sender on an illicit email campaign.

Best of luck

+Chris Dyson This is why you should always use SPF and DKIM. If you do use it, you should not have any issues with spammers identifying as your root domain (they CAN do it, but all provider SHOULD ignore them and put them straight to the junk folder).

If a spammer caused you issues by using your root domain he could have easily done the same for your sub-domain. So using a sub-domain isn't a proper solution to your problems.
AJ Kohn
+Jonny Ross, I'm probably not the right person to respond to this thread but +Chris Lang may have some experience in this arena.
Thanks for the reference +AJ Kohn and here's my response.

Number one, if you are running an open affiliate program thru say ClickBank or one of the other programs then you DO NOT want to use that domain in your email marketing.

Look at Whishlist that I just bought to add to a site today. They have tons of affiliates sending spam to get sales. And remember spam is in the eye of the beholder, not the owner, getting spam button clicks from the end recipients is how most bad endings to email campaigns begin.

Even if the affiliates have a opt in list or as I always recommend a double opt in list affiliates linking to their affiliate program are going to pull spam button clicks.

Also there are tons of guys out there, both US based and forgein that buy big lists and then send to them. The words ClickBank alone pull a Spam Assassin rating of one. Use the word 3 times in a email, you are going to a spam folder. That is because of the scenario above.

Use the ClickBack URL 3 times and guess what? The URL creates the text clickback 3 times. Bye email delivery.

Bottom line, your domain is going to get blocked by any number of filters because of this same scenario. Getting back to whishlist they went to the spam folder because of this.

I will never run an affiliate program to a domain that I ever care to main on again.

Also new domains are pulling high spam filter ratings now as of course spammers just hop domains after and there are 20 major securtiy software companies blocking domains this way. Trend Micro ran me out of business in 2008 in what they said was a false positive. All because of payment software that redirected to PayPal. On a 7 year old domain too. I went from 30,000 visitors a month and 5K a week in sales to nothing in a month.

By the time I found out why, I was out of business. So keep as what we are calling crusty old domains out of the reach or spammers that will get you banned in security software by running your sales pages on domains that you can always walk away from.

At the same time, brand new domains are not getting delivered to thru email marketing either, so let your domains age while you build the product, that way the can get delivered to the inbox.

If you want to get everything I know on this you can get my full report here at:

Just updated that for 2012 and I have been selling that product for over 4 years now. All the details on how to avoid URL filters that can block domains for no reason are in there, cost me a few $100K to learn all this.

Hope it helps, need personal advice, I do offer consulting on a limited basis as I am snowned under with my new G+ book for Sybex.. - Chris
Actually I am working on a well written blog post on this, this is just off the top of my head notes. Kinda the end of the day here, with it could have been more organized.
+AJ Kohn thanks so much for pointing +Chris Lang this way! Chris thanks for the great advice, I wasn't even considering email marketing for affiliates!! Great advice! also love the buy the domain and let it afe whilst you build the product!! I would recommend everyone to sign up to Chris's Blog! thanks!
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