All about custom 'from' addresses (or CFAs)

The 'from' address of your campaign is the email address a recipient sees in their inbox when they receive your email. 

As a user of the platform, you automatically get given a generic 'from' address to use, which looks something like yourcompanyname@r1.ourmailer.com

However, using this unbranded 'from' address isn't something we recommend. It can degrade your online brand and trust, and could, therefore, limit your open and subscribe rates.

We recommend purchasing a custom 'from' address from us, which allows you to brand your email address, making it look friendlier and more familiar to your recipients.

A custom 'from' address is made up of two parts:

  • the alias, which is the part before the @ sign (e.g. news@...)
  • the domain, which is the part after the @ sign (e.g. ...@mycompanyname.com)

In this article, we'll look at everything you need to know about custom 'from' addresses - from why it's best to have one, to how to purchase one, to how it's best looking, as well as other useful information affecting them. 

Why is it important to use a custom 'from' address?

There are three simple reasons why it's important to use a custom 'from' address:

  • Achieve better delivery rates
  • Engage your recipients for better open rates
  • Avoid bringing down your firm's transactional email

 There are four major benefits in using our custom 'from' address service:

  1. Get more of your emails into inboxes. Our custom 'from' addresses are fully configured for authentication, confirming to the ISPs that you are who you say you are. This is essential for getting more of your emails delivered into inboxes.
  2. Build your online brand and trust to improve your open rates. Your recipients will see only your brand in the custom 'from' address - no mention of your ESP or webmail provider. Making sure your 'from' address is fully branded like this will help increase your open rates.
  3. Protect your company domain name and your transactional emails. Using a branded custom 'from' address will protect your company's transactional and business emails from being affected by blacklisting from organisations such as Spamhaus due to spam complaints.

    If your custom 'from' address domain does accidentally get blacklisted, our Deliverability team will step in and take the necessary steps to get the domain unblacklisted as soon as possible, using the excellent relationships we hold with ISPs.
  4. Our custom 'from' address service represents great value. When you order a custom 'from' address from us, we do all the work for you. For a small admin fee, we'll purchase a domain name of your choice - one which is very close to your company domain name, i.e. www.company-name.com. We'll also include custom tracking links in your emails. Then we'll set up all the configuration and authentication required, so you don't need to.

But why can’t I just use my company's existing email address as a 'from' address?

To answer this, the following reasons expand upon some of the benefits of a custom 'from' address as opposed to sending bulk email from your regular sending address, as outlined above:

Reputation risk
The primary reason, and why the industry standard is to use a separate domain name, is reputation risk.

Regardless of how much care and attention you put into making your marketing emails relevant to your lists, there are likely to be some subscribers that decide they no longer want to receive them. Rather than clicking unsubscribe, some users will just mark your email as spam/junk. This, and other

Our Deliverability team maintain excellent relationships with ISPs, so in the rare circumstance that someone does get blocked, they can step in and take the necessary steps to get the domain unblacklisted. So as not to prevent your normal business email becoming blocked, regarded best practice is to send from separate domain names for marketing and regular email.

In order to avoid your normal business email becoming blocked, regarded best practice is to send from separate domain names for marketing and regular/transactional email.

Avoid tricky MX record setup
Configuring the MX (mail exchanger) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records can be a very fiddly business, and you may not necessarily have the access and know-how to get it right. We have processes and automated systems to ensure that these are set up correctly, so the tricky work is done for you.

Easy infrastructure changes
We do, from time to time, make changes to our infrastructure, which means that the domain records need to be changed. This means that many domain records need to be updated at the same time.

As such, we require access to the records for all the domains we're sending on behalf of so we can make all the changes at the same time. This is easier when the domains are not also accessed by other agencies when used for normal email and for websites.

Avoid delays to your normal business email
As well as a risk to the reputation of your normal business email, there can also be delays to the speed at which it's delivered if it gets queued with bulk email being sent from the same domain.

We recommend creating a new domain that is similar to your email domain (e.g. marketing@mycompanyname-news.com), as this protects your company’s normal day-to-day emails from any problems that could be associated with your email marketing.

Creating a new domain also allows us to include custom tracking links within your emails, plus set up all the configuration and authentication required for deliverability, so you don't need to involve your IT department in this matter.

Please note: If you already own an alternative domain or wish to set up a subdomain that is outside the UK, please contact your account manager.

What should my custom 'from’ address be?

When you choose your custom 'from' address, try and keep it as similar to your main (business) domain as possible so that your brand recognition is retained.

Words we would suggest steering away from to avoid triggering spam filters are:

  • offers
  • special
  • promotions
  • credit

Words that are often used that work well are:

  • news
  • events
  • latest
  • email
  • updates

Here are some examples that we'd suggest, for instance:

  • updates@companyname-news.com 
  • news@company-name.co.uk
  • email@company-name.com

The domain must only consist of a combination of the letters a-z, the numbers 0-9 and the hyphen sign (-). Please note that your chosen domain cannot start with the hyphen sign.

Please also be aware that if you use a dot (.), you'll be creating a subdomain.

Ready to purchase a custom 'from' address? Find out how.

Can I use an existing/purchased domain or subdomain as a custom 'from' address?

Yes, please have your IT department get in touch with your account manager or support@openmoves.com to discuss and get the NS records details so the domain can be that pointed to our primary, secondary and tertiary name servers.

With regards to a subdomain, you'll need to check with your IT department and/or domain provider whether the subdomain can be pointed to us. This is because some domain providers don't allow subdomains to be pointed to different name servers to the parent domain.

Some domain providers will also require an SOA record to be created.

Once the domain/subdomain has been pointed to us, we can then setup your custom 'from' address.

Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for the custom 'from' address to be activated.

Can I have a dynamic alias in my custom 'from' address?

No, not currently. Our infrastructure doesn't support dynamic aliases.

You can, however, use a personalized friendly 'from' name by using the relevant personalization placeholder.

There's an option to apply this in the 'Create' stage of the campaign creation process (the 'Provide a few campaign setup details' page).

As long as the staff member/adviser's name is included as a contact data field against the contact, then this will dynamically populate.

Contact data fields have an option to set a default value when setting them up, so if there's an instance where a contact doesn't have a staff member/adviser assigned to them, then the default value (e.g. 'Your [company name] adviser') will be used instead.

Can replies to my emails be dynamically forwarded?

Yes. As well as the friendly 'from' name, the forwarding address can also be a personalized, dynamic value taken from a contact data field. It means that replies from contacts can be forwarded to an address you set on a per contact basis.

For example, let's say you have three account managers that look after all of your customers, and these customers are all contacts stored with us. You'd create a contact data field called something like 'ACCOUNTMANAGEREMAIL', and making sure each contact has the email address of their account manager stored under it.

When creating your campaign, you'd enter @ACCOUNTMANAGEREMAIL@ in the 'Forwarding address' field. 

If a contact replies, you'll get their response not only stored in the app (in campaign reporting), but it will also get sent directly to their account manager. 

Can I move my custom 'from' address that I use with my current ESP to you?

Whereas this is technically possible, it isn't recommended. Please keep in mind that all of your old campaigns sent with your previous ESP will be impacted.

Your old campaigns' images and links will be held on your previous ESP’s servers, which means after the NS records have been changed to ours, the links and images of those old campaigns may stop working. Some users may open their emails weeks after the initial send, so that’s something to consider.

Can I just provide the MX records for my existing domain?

No. We require the NS records to be pointed to us rather than just the MX records.

This is because we need to set up some of the other services on the domain, such as the hosting of landing pages, and the enhanced reporting of opens, clicks and bounces. If the domain is delegated to us only using the MX Records instead of the NS records it isn't possible to set this up.

If the domain is delegated to us through only the MX Records and not the NS records, then it isn't possible to set up everything we need to.

Can I run a domain myself by being given the DNS records or a copy of the zone file?

No, we don't provide DNS records, or a zone file, or anything of this nature, for you to then manage.

In order for you to have your own domain, we provide two options:

  • purchase one through us that we manage, or
  • delegate a domain or *subdomain to us that we manage

In the case of the latter, all you need to do is ensure the domain or subdomain is pointing to our name servers (as given above in 'Can I use an existing/purchased domain or subdomain as a custom 'from' address?'). This will ensure full functionality of our services.

* Note: There may be some restrictions and further requirements associated with delegating a subdomain to us.

How do I receive replies and emails sent to my custom 'from' address?

Replies are handled directly by us and can be viewed in the 'Replies' report in campaign reporting. 

Replies can also be handled and forwarded at either:

  • account level through the management of automatic replies
  • at campaign level by using 'Forwarding address' when setting up a campaign. You can also set an automatic response whenever a contact replies to your campaign.

How do I purchase a custom 'from' address?

Please email your account manager or support@openmoves.com to purchase a custom 'from' address

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