Authors

Dylan Damsma, Customer Enablement & Partnerships at Autopilot

Lesson 5: Set Up Your Custom Email Domain

Setting up your custom email domain with Autopilot can be a bit technical, but fear not! We’ll guide you through it step by step.

Ever received an email that came from an email address that was completely unrecognizable to you? There’s a good chance the sender used the default address provided by their email platform. Apart from making it hard to recognize the sender, this can also raise serious doubts about the legitimacy of the email, which impacts deliverability rates. That’s why it’s important to set up your custom domain in Autopilot.

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to:

sender email address default domain
Example of an email sent from Autopilot's default domain (left) and an email sent from a custom domain (right)

Configure your custom email domain

Autopilot can be configured to deliver email on behalf of your email domain. That doesn’t mean the email will come directly from your email provider (e.g. Gmail). Rather, it will be sent on behalf of your domain via Autopilot’s mail servers.

Think of it like this: We are sending a letter on your behalf—but with your return address on it. As far as the recipient is concerned, the email looks exactly like it would if you sent it yourself.

To send an email from Autopilot using your own domain name as the from address, you’ll have to authorize Autopilot’s servers to use your domain name. This authorization can be done by adding DNS (domain name system) records to your domain.

Start the setup in Autopilot

First, you’ll have to select the domain you’d like to use. More often than not, it’ll be the same domain you’re using for your website.

In the following example, we’ll be setting up the domain for “betterpresented.com”—but the same steps apply for your company’s domain.

Once you’ve chosen a domain, log in to Autopilot and navigate to “Settings” > “Mail Settings”.

Once you've chosen the domain you want to send emails form, log in to Autopilot, navigate to settings, select mail settings, and click configure mail domain
custom email domain setup

Next, click “Configure Mail Domain” and enter the domain you want to configure without the www. or http:// in front of it. It should look something like this:

To set up your custom email domain, enter the domain name of your choice (without the www or http in front of it)
custom email domain setup complete

Tick the checkbox for “Accept Terms & Conditions” and then click “Set Domain”.  On the next screen, you’ll see five DNS records provided by the system:

The DNS records you must update to set up your custom email domain
custom email domain updating DNS records

These values need to be added to the DNS manager at your domain provider, which authorizes Autopilot to send emails on your behalf and informs Autopilot that you’re the true owner of the domain.

There are three different parts to each DNS record: type, host record, and value. It’s important to understand that these parts define the DNS records required to complete the next steps.

Add the DNS records to your domain

Now you’ll have to log in to your DNS manager. Most of the time, this is the same company as where you bought the domain. However, it can also be the hosting provider of your website. If you’re not sure, check with IT or your consultant. Otherwise, if you set up your own website, go ahead and assume that it’s the same provider as where you bought your domain.

After logging in to your domain provider, navigate to the DNS manager. Below you’ll find the links to the support documentation about the DNS managers of the most common domain providers:

Once you’ve located the DNS manager of your provider, you’ll be presented with a screen like this:

What your email address provider's DNS manager might look like
email provider DNS manager

Each domain provider will have a different layout, but you should see an option to add a record. Click “Add Record” in the DNS manager. Then, go back to the Autopilot screen showing the provided DNS records.

The first record we’re going to add is the CNAME record. In this example, our CNAME record attributes are as follows:

  • Type: CNAME
  • Host record: em.betterpresented.com
  • Value: sendgrid.net

Your domain provider will present you with the option to enter these values. In our case, it looks like this:

CNAME DNS record
Enter the values for your CNAME record

In the example above, you’ll see that I’ve only entered “em”. Almost all DNS management tools automatically append the domain name to the host record, meaning “em” will automatically become em.betterpresented.com.

Once you’ve added the first DNS record, continue to add the four remaining records:

Enter the four remaining DNS records

In the above screenshot, you’ll notice [email protected] was entered instead of “betterpresented.com” on the third DNS record. This is because [email protected] symbolizes the root domain, which is “betterpresented.com”. If “betterpresented.com” was entered, the DNS manager tool would’ve returned “betterpresented.com.betterpresented.com”. This is something you’ll have to look out for when adding DNS records to your own domain.

Verify your domain in Autopilot

Once you’ve added all the DNS records to your domain, go back to Autopilot and verify the records.

Once back in the “Mail Setting” screen, click “Test DNS Setup”. If the records were correctly added to your domain, green check marks will appear on the left side:

Green check marks on the left side indicate that the DNS records have been successfully added to your domain
verified custom email domain DNS records

Important note: DNS propagation can take up to 24 hours, so don’t panic if you don’t get the green checks immediately after adding the DNS records. If you’re interested in learning more about why this occurs, we recommend reading this article from Smashing Magazine as it gives a great explanation on how DNS works behind the scenes.

If none (or not all) of the records are checked, we recommend waiting 24 hours before checking again. If after 24 hours one or more of the records have still not been verified, jump forward to step three.

Do all five records have a green check mark? Then click “insert confirm domain button” in the top right-hand corner. Our support team will then receive a request to verify and activate the domain. This verification may take up to 24 hours. You’ll be notified when the domain has been activated and is ready for use.

Note: If you would like to add multiple domains to your account, please contact [email protected] for further assistance. 

Use your new custom domain

Now that you’ve configured your domain with Autopilot, you’re ready to start sending emails!

If everything is correct, you should see the following under “Mail Settings”:

Once you've set up your custom email domain, your default from address will look something like this
custom mail settings autopilot

As you can see in this example, the default email address is [email protected]. This is the default address used whenever you create a new email or enter an invalid from address. You can also use another address, which we’ll show you in the next two steps.

Changing the default email address

Changing the default from address is simple. Simply click the edit icon in the input field:

Click on the edit icon to change your default from address
edit email address sender
Type in your new preferred default from address
change email address sender

Once finished, click the green confirmation icon. Congratulations, your new default is set!

Configuring your from address per email

Personalizing email senders for email campaigns can dramatically improve results. Sometimes you’ll want to send from a specific individual, like your CEO, dedicated account representative, or a general email address, such as [email protected] That’s easy to do in Autopilot. In fact, you can use anything before the @ sign—as long as the domain is the domain you’re currently using.

Whenever you create a new email, you’ll see a designated area to specify the subject line, from name, and from email address:

When crafting a new email, you can write anything before the @ sign—as long as the domain remains the same
customize email address

You can fill in the from address however you like. In the example above, we used [email protected]

Troubleshoot your domain setup

If after the 24-hour waiting period your DNS records are still not validated, there’s a good chance that a small mistake was made along the way. In this article, we explain how to troubleshoot the most common issues that occur when setting up a custom domain.

If you find yourself stuck after trying the resolutions provided in the article, don’t hesitate to contact our support team at [email protected].

Now that you’ve set up your custom domain, your recipients will see that your emails are really coming from you.

Next Lesson

Lesson 6: Manage Your Content

Emails, Headsup messages, and internal notifications… Here’s how to best manage your growing content library in Autopilot. When you’re creating customer journeys, the very last thing you want to do is ...

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