The From Line

Sending, Managing & Monetizing Email

Custom DNS - Another Reason Why You Need It

Below is another example of how using a custom DNS with your email service provider can help increase trust and deliverability.  In this example, TechTarget sent me an email to sign up for their Online ROI Summit.  However when clicking on the link my email client warns me that the link could be fraud.  Why?  Because the link resolves through the email service providers domain instead of TechTarget.  This is why custom DNS coupled with a unique IP is the gold standard for deliverability and trust.

custom dns for email

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Custom DNS – The Last Link for Your Reputation & Branding

There is a dizzying array of information, discussions and banter regarding the importance of sender reputation, however very little substance about how the process technically works. Even more surprising is the continuous debate among ESPs as to whether its better to have a client on a shared IP address verses a unique IP address. Please tell me how a sender establishes a good reputation using a shared IP address? I still haven't figured out the risk logic to this yet. What's most shocking is that very few ESPs offer their clients custom DNS. What is custom DNS you ask? It's when you have the ability to send email from your own domain name such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. instead of your ESPs mail server domain such as This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This involves pointing certain DNS records to the unique IP address your ESP provides. The IP has to be unique since reverse DNS needs to be configured as well and only one reverse DNS is permitted per IP address. Instead, many ESPs allow their clients to "spoof" a sender email address, violating many ISPs acceptable use policies (however rarely enforced).

The importance of custom DNS stems from the fact that it's the last link in ensuring your email sending reputation and one that is rarely implemented. In fact, if you don't have a custom DNS and a unique IP address, you will not be able to participate in sender verification, white listing and reputation management programs. Also, many corporate phishing filters block links in messages that point to other domains other than the receiving authenticated domain. Meaning if you send an email from mx345.myesp.com and have a link in your message that is pointing to yourwebsite.com you have a higher probability of it being filtered in a corporate network environment.

So what's a concerned marketer to do? The first step is to get a unique IP address. If you send a significant volume of email and your ESP doesn't offer a unique IP address then its time to consider a new ESP. The second step is to ask your ESP to help you with your custom DNS. They should provide you with a string of DNS entries that include authentication. If your lists are relatively clean and branding is important, choose a derivative of your corporate domain name such as email.yourdomain.com or click.yourdomain.com. If your list gathering practices are even slightly questionable then you should purchase a domain specifically for email marketing. If your ESP tries to charge you an arm and a leg for this service kick them in the shins and demand that they do it for free. It should take an experienced network admin no more than 15 minutes to get your account configured correctly.

Custom DNS is the only way to go with email marketing. The setup process will take a little extra effort however it will pay dividends with email reputation management, branding and overall trust with your recipients.

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SPF And Email Deliverability In 2007

Another year in email marketing is almost gone and the good guys' battle against spam has barely made a dent.  Black lists, content filters and challenge response are all a joke to spammers.  Ninety-nine percent of spammers are never identified because of their uncanny ability to hide behind hijacked pc's and servers.  As an email marketer, the only real silver bullet to combat spam is the unified use of SPF or Sender Policy Framework.  SPF is a simple string of code attached to a domain that forces an email sender to be identified hence there is no place for spammers to hide.  The biggest issue to using SPF in the battle against spam is getting network administrators to implement it on their DNS (Domain Name Service) in addition to them not allowing email to enter their network from a sender who has not implemented SPF.  Two very simple things that need to be done in concert. 

However there is a dirty little secret among domain registrars and DNS providers.  This dirty secret is the simple fact that many of them do not support SPF. 

2007 is going to be a lull for deliverability and email marketing in general is going to suffer.  I think that network admins will be so fed up dealing with spam that there will be a quiet revolution to push DNS providers to support SPF.  Once this happens these revolutionary network admins will be able to implement it causing a chain reaction down the network admin pyramid forcing broad-base implementation.

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The Email Monetization Playbook
Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!

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Email Monetization Playbook
69 Must Scan Pages For Publishers!