Sending email from a decoy, pass-through email domain which forwards to your primary domain is never a good idea, yet there are people who do this. (Some people call this a ‘dummy domain’, but that’s actually something different.) What they do is set up a decoy domain and send their cold email from it, with links in the cold email which point to their primary domain. They do it this way in an effort to protect the reputation of their primary domain; aren’t they so clever? Here’s the thing; actually two things: 1. It doesn’t work, it will still drag down their primary domain’s reputation, and 2. it doesn’t work because they are spamming. Calling it “cold email” when what you’ve done is scraped or purchased an email address and put it on a mailing list without consent is spam, no matter how much you try to polish it up and call it something else.

Now, we know that there are email marketing consultants out there, and even self-annointed email deliverability experts, who are advising people to do this. But you have to ask yourself: if the email that you are sending is really ok, 100% kosher, and not spam by any definition, then why would you need to pull the old switcheroo, emailing from one domain but pointing people to another? It’s like the email version of catfishing.

Trying to get around something which inbox providers have put in place to help deal with spam and spammers generally means that you are spamming. Trying to send email out in a way that legitimate ESPs forbid also, generally, means that you are spamming. YOU may not consider it spamming. But let’s be honest, how you think of it doesn’t matter. If you are in a store and take a candy bar without paying for it, you may think of it as liberating the candy bar from “the Man”, or you may think of it as “not a big deal because a lot of people do it and it’s only a $1.00 candy bar”, or you may even think of it as “addressing an urgent need to eat”, but none of that matters. It’s still stealing. As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

And really, you already know that, because you have already had to answer for yourself why you are doing this round-about method of sending your email instead of the straight-forward, open and honest way that legitimate businesses do.

It also goes against nearly everything that your common sense says about building a great domain reputation, not to mention your SEO, and, of course, your deliverability. The perfect setup from all of these standpoints is when your email domain and your email ‘from’ address are the same, and when any links in your email that go back to your website match the sending domain! Spam filters check for these things, and when something doesn’t match up, the spam filter can add 1 to 1000 spam points to your email, causing your deliverability and, yes, your reputation to take a hit.

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And in this case it isn’t even just the spam filters and inbox providers who are noticing the mismatch. Consumers know to look for these things too. People are becoming increasingly savvy and now, more than ever, are checking to see that email they receive passes the ‘sniff’ test before they click on a link, and that includes checking the ‘from’ address to see if it coincides with who is actually sending the email, and their website address.

No legitimate business that sends legitimate email to a legitimately-built mailing list uses a decoy mailing domain. They don’t have to, because they aren’t doing anything wrong. If you have to then it’s probably time to re-think your emailing practices.

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