Cold Email · · 4 min read

Custom Tracking Domains: What They Are and Why They Matter

No email campaign would be complete without open and link click tracking, which is what a tracking domain does. But what are the benefits of having a custom one for yourself and how can you create one? Read on to find out.

custom tracking domains

What Is a Custom Tracking Domain?

A custom tracking domain is a URL specific to you that tracks your email open rates and the number of link clicks that result from an outreach campaign.

Imagine the links in your email are wrapped in a special domain URL. Whenever a recipient clicks on a link in your email, they first pass through this URL which logs their click and then quickly redirects them to the original link destination.

Unlike a commonly shared tracker that can carry risks, a custom tracking domain allows you to track click rates by first directing recipients to your own private domain tracker instead.

Why Use a Custom Tracking Domain?

Other than simply tracking open and link click rates, a custom tracking domain can positively impact your outreach campaigns in many ways. Here are the top advantages of using one.

Custom Tracking Domains Reduce Risk

Depending on the email tool you use, default tracking domains can be in use by thousands of users for their email campaigns and potentially worse, to send spam. Just like legitimate email marketers, spammers need to keep track of open and click-through rates to gauge how well their spam campaigns work.

Instantly and other top email automation tools do their best to keep spammers out, but there's always a risk that one breaks through. Similar to how a public wifi service carries some privacy risk, why use it if you have your own private and secure wifi available instead?

Custom Tracking Domains Help Avoid Landing as Spam

If you have proper SPF and DKIM authentication, a custom tracking domain will allow your emails to be fully marked as your own with no outside domains mixed in. Having an email come from one domain and route to another that’s completely different (the tracking URL in this case) can raise red flags with spam filters.

This is especially so if the tracking URL has been compromised by spammers as we covered above.

Custom Tracking Domains Boost Your Sender Reputation

You’ve warmed up your email and are ready to start your outreach campaigns. Similar to how you’ve established your sender reputation through email warm up, your custom tracking domain will establish a healthy sender reputation over time.

In contrast, a default tracking domain will have an overall sender reputation that is the culmination of all its user’s sending habits combined. Even without the risk of spammers, this can compromise your email deliverability.

How to Create a Custom Tracking Domain

There are some technical steps involved with setting up a custom tracking domain but we’ve made it a quick and easy step-by-step process.

First Step: Activate Custom Tracking Domain

When you log into your Instantly account you will see your associated emails. If there is a radar icon visible it means there is currently no custom tracking domain for that account.

instantly dashboard

Click on the account and under the Settings tab you can activate Custom Tracking Domain.

how to set a custom tracking domain

Next, you will notice a dropdown box appear that includes the necessary inputs for the next step.

tracking your domain or subdomain

Instantly provides the value ( and name (inst) for the CNAME record you will create.

Second Step: Create a CNAME Record With Your Domain Provider

Depending on your domain provider, the steps here will differ slightly but are largely the same. Here are detailed guides on how to add a CNAME record with the top domain registrars:

When adding a new CNAME record for your domain:

  1. Use inst as the name of the CNAME.
  2. Use as the value of the CNAME.

Once you’ve added and saved the new CNAME record with your domain provider, give it a moment to register.

Third Step: Check Status

Now that you’ve created a CNAME record with your domain provider, we need to verify if it’s working.

Back to your Instantly Settings tab add the new CNAME as with being your domain name that you added the CNAME record under.

record tracking domain

If everything was set up correctly you will receive a CNAME Verified and SSL Verified notification under the Check Status button.

CNAME Verified

We’re not done yet! Don’t forget to save your new settings to activate your custom tracking domain.

Daily campaign limits

Key Takeaways

And that’s how you create a custom tracking domain! Easy, right? It’s a quick and simple process that is well worth the effort. By having your own custom tracking domain, you will be able to:

  • Boost your sender reputation and deliverability.
  • Avoid spam filters by having matching domains in your emails.
  • Not be associated with other users’ sending habits and potential spammers as you would with a default custom tracker.

Need to create a custom tracking domain? Get in touch with the team today!

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