Question: Should I send my e-mail under my domain name or under my service provider’s domain?

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Answer: E-mail recipients put more weight on who the e-mail is from than any other item when choosing which e-mails to open, which to delete and which to complain about.

Our “from address” testing shows an increase in open rates and click-through rates when the “from” name, “from” address and subject line are appropriately branded. It also shows a reduction in spam complaints.

An e-mail service provider should give you a choice of how your “from” address is managed. For example, possible options for XYZ Brand include:

Option 1: [email protected]

Option 2: [email protected]

Option 3: [email protected]

Option 4: [email protected]

In options 1 and 3 above, the “name” side of the e-mail address (left side of the @ symbol) isn’t branded. This is the first item I’d recommend testing in your business. We recently changed to option 2 (a branded e-mail name) for several clients based on statistically significant tests showing a response increase and a complaint reduction when compared to option 1.

Options 3 and 4 are typical implementations with an e-mail service provider (ESP). Both options use a subdomain of the ESP (, enabling the ESP to more easily support reply mail management or manage DNS issues, such as Sender ID or SPF authentication (since they maintain control of the root domain).

How does using an e-mail domain different from your own affect response rates and complaints? The jury is still out. However, a recent Gartner Group survey of 5,000 online buyers found that more than 1 million consumers were scammed out of $925 million in 2004 because of phishing attacks. Think that makes consumers aware of the brands their e-mails come from? Of course it does.

If consumer reactions to spam and phishing are any indication, it would seem the best solution is one that doesn’t obfuscate your brand in any way. Leverage your asset and use your name in your “from” name, “from” address and subject line.

Chip House is VP-privacy and deliverability at ExactTarget, an Indianapolis-based provider of permission-based e-mail marketing solutions.

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