Technical setup

Custom Tracking Domain Guide - Why It Matters and How to Set It Up

April 16, 2024
7 min.

Using a custom tracking domain can help you avoid the spam folder.

A CTD allows you to use your domain to track opens and clicks instead of your email service provider’s tracking domain, which is used by most of their customers.

Because of its widespread use, your ESP’s tracking domain has a tarnished reputation, leading to deliverability problems for your emails.

By using your own tracking domain, you separate your sender reputation from that of your ESP.

Why You Need a Custom Tracking Domain ⚠️

When sending emails (ESP), the tool you use usually adds tracking pixels and URLs to the emails.

This allows you to track essential stats like opens and clicks.

However, a tracking domain is necessary for these stats to get tracked effectively.

Since the email tool’s tracking domain is used by most customers, including spammers, it doesn’t have the best reputation. 😔

With URLs from a domain with a questionable reputation in your emails, internet service providers trust them less, which can result in your emails landing in spam.

But there’s something you can do about this.

If you use your own custom tracking domain in your emails, you’ll use a domain with a clean reputation and one that only you will use. This will lead to better open rates and more ROI for your email outreach.

To learn more about CTDs and why they can increase open rates, check out our article: What Is a Custom Tracking Domain, and Why Is It Important?

Setting Up a Custom Tracking Domain 📝

When setting up a CTD, avoid using your primary domain.

Even when sending the best emails, some people could be having a bad day and hit the spam button on them.

But you don’t need to purchase a new domain, either.

Use a subdomain instead. Its reputation is separate enough from your main domain so that it won’t cause reputation issues.

The process of setting up a custom tracking domain typically consists of two steps. ⬇️

  1. 👉 Set up a subdomain through a CNAME record (DNS record) in your domain’s DNS settings
  2. 👉 Add your new CTD to your email service provider account
For exact instructions on how to set it up, please refer to: How to Easily Set Up a Custom Tracking Domain - Step-by-Step Guide. Our guide offers instructions on how to set up a CTD for specific domain providers as well as step-by-step guidelines for any provider.

Common Custom Tracking Domain Questions ❓❔

How can I troubleshoot issues related to my custom tracking domain?

  1. ➡️ Remember that DNS changes can take 48-72 hours to propagate fully.
  2. ➡️ Make sure to verify your DNS settings, especially your CNAME record. Ensure everything is correctly configured and pointing to your ESP’s tracking domain.
  3. ➡️ Check if you’ve actually added your CTD to your ESP’s account. If you don’t do this, your emails will continue being sent out with the ESP’s CTD.
  4. ➡️ Ask for support from your ESP.

How do I choose a subdomain for my custom tracking domain?

For most ESPs, it can be whatever you want. For administration purposes, we like to call it tracking.

The complete tracking domain would then be

What is a CNAME record, and how does it relate to a custom tracking domain?

CNAME stands for Canonical Name and is a type of DNS record to associate domains (or subdomains) with each other.

For a CTD, you create a CNAME record to connect your subdomain to the ESP’s tracking domain. Technically, your ESP’s tracking domain still tracks open and click rates, but it isn’t featured in your emails.

How long does a custom tracking domain take to become active and start working?

It can take up to 72 hours for your CTD to become active. Most of the time, though, it’ll be active much sooner than that.

Does setting up a custom tracking domain require technical expertise?

No. While it may seem complicated at first, it’s actually really simple. Read our guide on how to set up a custom tracking domain so you can set up yours today.

A CTD is a Must for Email Outreach!

With a custom tracking domain set up, you have more chance of landing in your audience’s inbox.

As a bonus, any outgoing links in your emails look more professional, too.

Setting up a CTD for email outreach is a no-brainer.

Combined with the rest of your technical setup, it helps you avoid spam and increase your ROI.


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