Email Thursday – A Private Domain is a Better Domain



The private domain is often a mysterious topic akin to the Wizard of Oz. You know that it exists, you know that it can be good for you, yet you may not know exactly what it is.

In the following slides, I will define a private domain, outline some key benefits, and give you some suggestions on how to implement your own private domain.

To explain the virtue of a private domain, I will use an analogy.

If you are on an email service provider, you are sharing a spectrum of domains with other users of the email service provider.

This is analogous to a system of shared water pipes. In this illustration, you and other email marketers manage a common system of pipes. You deliver water to different people, but you share the same system to do so.

In a perfect world, everybody keeps the pipes clean and everybody is able to deliver clean drinking water to thirsty people.

However, there may be some managers who cut corners and send dirty water through the pipes. Because the system is shared, the water that you traffic inevitably becomes polluted as well. Be mindful that this is not your fault – you only intended to send clean water to your recipients. But because the polluted water sullied the pipe system and contaminates the entire flow of water.

This illustration is very similar to email service providers. As a client of an email service provider, you are sharing common sending domains with a multitude of email marketers. Think of the sending domains as the pipe system. Because of this shared resource, your ability to successfully land a message in the inbox of major email platforms (such as gmail or hotmail) is tied (on some level) with whether or not the other users of the email service provider send spammy messages or not.

A private domain can help curtail this issue by creating a subsystem to deliver your emails. Granted, a private domain is not a delivery system that is completely different than the system used by your email service provider. It’s different enough to be treated differently than the other email marketers

So conceptually, you understand the need for a private domain. But in reality, why should you care?

Many email service providers offer private domains as part of your contract. You will need to do a lot of the heavy lifting in setting up your domains and modifying your DNS entries, but once you get over that hurdle, you are home-free.

Secondly, with your own private domain, you will have more control over your email marketing. Your ability to land emails in the inbox won’t be as impacted by the actions of others. You have control over your own destiny!

From a marketing perspective, a private domain will help you extend your branding. Take a look at the example under the third bullet point.

Combined with regular list hygiene, many of our clients have seen an increase in deliverability through a private domain. I must caution that a private domain is not a singular, solve-all solution to deliverability. You will need to continue other best practices to achieve maximum effect.

Hopefully I have made a convincing argument that a private domain is a worthwhile investment of time. So how do you approach this issue?

How Can I Get A Private Domain?

  • Talk to your email service provider representative
  • Ask for instructions on setting up private domain
  • Involve your Web administrator in the discussion
  • Change DNS records as requested by email service provider
  • Ask the email service provider to verify DNS records