Why Use Email Subdomains for Email Marketing - Benefits and Best Practices

Team MessageFlow
15 min
February 19, 2024

Putting all your eggs into one basket is a risky move. This applies to business Emails as well, which are best delivered when distributed carefully across multiple sender subdomains. There’s a number of reasons why you may want to branch out from the root to improve the performance of your campaigns down the line. Let’s talk about using Email subdomains for marketing and transactional communication purposes.

In this article we explain:

  • The difference between an Email domain and subdomain.

  • The benefits of using Email subdomains.

  • The importance of separate subdomains in light of Google and Yahoo policy changes.

Understanding Email subdomains

A subdomain is a branch out of the parent domain, which can be used to send Emails just as any other address. Importantly, this branch can have its own IP and develop a reputation independently of other Email addresses.

Domain is the part that comes after the @ symbol, for instance, xyz@yourcompanyname.com which helps the recipient easily recognize you.

Subdomain is the part inserted between @ and the main domain, for instance, xyz@newsletter.yourcompanyname.com used for specific purposes like tracking, branding, or separating different types of Emails. 

Email subdomain examples

Let’s have a quick look at some real-life examples of how different subdomains are used for specific purposes. 

Importantly, to make the best use of subdomains, make sure you have a system in place that supports user engagement tracking and analytics for these individual addresses. Dividing subdomains in an Email marketing platform will allow you to better understand the overall effectiveness of your efforts and how well the particular audiences react to your communication.

1. Old Navy has a subdomain which allows them to track and compare the engagement they see against other channels, getting a better understanding of their customer preferences.

email subdomain example

2. Udemy, on the other hand, uses an Email subdomain to measure the engagement of a particular group of their users, which is students who just signed up to learn with the platform.

email subdomain example

3. HubSpot employs a subdomain to get a better understanding of which of the many content types they produce is getting the most engagement. 

email subdomain example

Using Email subdomains - best practices

If you’re still wondering why can’t you just send all your transactional Email and marketing Email from the address you already have, keep reading. The split of different types of communication you dispatch makes a lot of sense and can significantly benefit you. Here are best practices for using a dedicated subdomain to enhance Email deliverability.

Better communication segmentation 

Using subdomains you can better segment your communication to maintain consistent engagement levels across different groups of recipients, which in turns boosts deliverability. If you’re sending your entire communication from a single address and there’s a segment within your audience that’s not too engaged, it will hurt the overall Email deliverability and the ability to reach those users who are interested in hearing from you indeed.

Once you have your audiences segmented, using distinct subdomains to reach them will further support your marketing campaigns. For instance, you may create a super simple division of customers into new ones, who just bought something from you for the first time, and those that have been consistently making purchases for some time already. Each of these groups can be receiving communication from a separate subdomain, helping you get a better grip of the engagement and informing further business decisions.

Control over root domain reputation

Since sender reputation is based mainly on the individual domain and IP address history, if any issues occur in the course of using a subdomain, they won’t affect your main domain or the other subdomains, keeping their Email reputation intact.

Tracking and analytics of marketing Email

Email subdomains allow for closer tracking of specific campaigns or types of content being sent. When setting up your analytics environment, simply create separate workflows for each subdomain to get more granular insights into performance or narrow down the source of issues, should they ever occur. 

Setting up a subdomain for better branding 

Depending on your individual business goals, you may want to create a distinct identity for each specific communication type. A subdomain allows you to succinctly convey a clear message from the start, letting them know what they can expect from this particular address.

Alignment with Email providers 

In general, Email service providers like it when the same type of traffic is steadily coming from a specific subdomain. In the analysis process, bots learn to better recognize and distribute Emails into relevant inbox tabs when the same type of traffic is being consistently sent from the same subdomain which increases Email deliverability over time.

Why you should use a subdomain in the light of Gmail and Yahoo Mail policy changes

The recent policy changes Google and Yahoo introduced regarding sender domain authentication directly relate to the domain and subdomains you’re using for your Email campaigns. 

In an effort to curb spam, phishing, and other cybersecurity threats, the two webmail giants now require everyone who dispatches 5,000+ Emails a day to authenticate their sender domain using the SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols.

The default implementation of DMARC in particular applies to your global domain. The way you set it up can impact all types of Email you send if you’ve been doing it from a single address so far. This means that in case something’s not correctly set, all your marketing campaigns will become affected.

Send Emails and protect your domain reputation

The recommended course of action is to still follow through with the Email authentication of course, but test the process first on a subdomain and not have to worry about your main domain taking a potential reputation hit because of a sudden drop in performance.

Using MessageFlow, you can add a new subdomain Email address directly in the panel at no cost once you create it with your hosting provider. Each of them can have its own individual settings, giving you room to trial-run the implementation of authentication in an isolated environment. If you notice traffic from the separate subdomain not performing well, you can investigate and adjust with no impact on your main sender address. 

If you’re ready to cover all bases of Email marketing, contact us at MessageFlow with any campaign or implementation questions you may have. We offer a complete suite of integrated and scalable business messaging solutions backed by infrastructure built over 20 years operating in the industry. 

Now back to the topic at hand…

Email subdomains and their role in Email marketing

The main purpose of separating different types of your business communication using multiple subdomains is to protect the IP and sender reputation of the root. These factors contribute to high Email delivery rate which most likely sits at the top of your Email marketing strategy priorities list, along with conversion. 

Besides, different addresses will provide you with more detailed metrics once you create a subdomain for Email marketing, for individual teams, events, or departments. Subdomains are perfect for any business niche and they allow you to sort your communication according to any criteria you like. 

That said, changes to DNS settings of the type discussed earlier in the article may take some time, especially at larger organizations. Getting a subdomain name set up to implement and try out these modifications is way easier and safer than operating on the root domain and allows marketers to experiment in a sandbox while not putting a strain on the change management process. 

So, are you currently using your main domain or subdomain to send different types of Emails?

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