Why You Should Be Using A Subdomain

As an email marketer, inbox placement is probably something you think about a lot - you know that avoiding the spam folder isn’t as easy as clicking send. One of the main things to keep in mind when it comes to landing in inboxes is your sending reputation - the key in determining where your email will end up.

Your reputation depends on many different factors, from the content and format of your email to avoiding spam complaints. This post gives a pretty good overview: How To Improve Your Sending Reputation. Though everything listed here matters, an additional aspect you may miss is the actual email domain you send from. This post breaks down why it’s best practice to send from a subdomain for email marketing instead of your parent domain. Let’s get into it!

What is a subdomain?

subdomain-example
First off: a domain is a unique identifier of a specific website. In the above example, ‘hive.co’ is referred to as the “parent” domain. The subdomain is the “child” domain - the prefix you choose that indicates it’s a subsection of the larger domain - in this example, it’s ‘mail’. You can also think of the subdomain as what comes immediately after the @ symbol.

Last thing: you can put anything you’d like in front of the @ symbol - from michaela@mail.hive.co to grapefruit@mail.hive.co.

What’s the point of subdomains?

Subdomains are key in building a strong, stable sending reputation. Each individual subdomain you use gives you a separate reputation (which is also separate from your parent domain). Separating out your reputations is especially important for brands sending lots of email, which often gets split into transactional (think: order receipts, shipping notifications, password resets) and marketing emails (promotions, new releases, etc.).

It’s pretty typical for transactional emails to get much higher engagement, because they’re emails people need to receive (just think about how quickly you opened your last password reset email). On the other hand, it’s likely your marketing emails will have less engagement - not necessarily poor engagement, especially if you’re using personalization and segmentation - but on average they will have less.

These kinds of emails are totally different in the purposes they serve, which is why you shouldn’t let the sending reputation of one affect the other. The most likely scenario is that the sending reputation of your marketing emails will bring down the deliverability of your transactional emails - which leads to the next point.

Using subdomains is less risky

If you make an email marketing mistake - let’s say you send out a bulk email campaign with no option to unsubscribe - it’s less of a big deal on a subdomain. If you did this on your main domain, there’s a high risk that you’ll get blacklisted by internet service providers (ISPs) - very difficult to recover from. Unfortunately, getting on an ISP blacklist is much easier than getting off one!

By using a subdomain in this situation, you’d be protected. Only the specific subdomain would be blacklisted, and your parent domain and other subdomains would remain unscathed.

Using subdomains gives you more insight

When all of your emails go through your parent domain, it’s hard to tell what’s affecting your sending reputation. With subdomains, it’s easier to find the root of the problem by identifying which emails have deliverability issues and why. And once you find the issue, correcting becomes simpler, because you’re only looking at one domain.

At the end of the day, email is only a powerful tool if your customers receive your messages! By using subdomains to cleverly isolate different types of campaigns, you’ll be on your way to great email deliverability.