Pro-tip: Age that new domain before sending

Here’s an easy tip that I wanted to share with everyone. It’s something I knew about myself but didn’t take into consideration (I guess I got tripped up in my own "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing). As mentioned, recently I set up my own mailbox provider to host my own mail, and as part of that, I set up a new domain name. (I didn’t HAVE to set up a new domain name, but it made setup a bit easier; I could dedicate the whole domain to my new project, and I could simply jettison the domain if I decide to shut the service down later.)

I set the server up and tried sending the first few test messages, and immediately started to see Spamhaus blocks. The error messages basically said something like "mail blocked due to domain being listed on" ZRD? A quick google search later, I found this guide from Spamhaus, specifically talking about the risks of sending from a new domain, and how their ZRD (Zero Reputation Domain) blocklist helps to protect users from potentially dangerous activity from mail sent using brand new domain names.

Indeed, as I subscribe to Spamhaus’s Data Query Service (DQS), I myself have had ZRD blocking implemented on my mail servers for a while now. I just never really thought about what that was or what it meant. And ultimately what this means is any mailbox provider (MBP) or internet service provider (ISP) who subscribes to the full suite of Spamhaus filters is going to reject mail from your domain, if your domain is less than 24 hours old.

And Spamhaus isn’t the only entity who does this; they’re really just one of the few that openly talk about it. Gmail, Yahoo and others are likely to temporarily reject some or all mail from new domains, to wait and see how the initial domain reputation shakes out.

So that ultimately means that you, as an email marketer, if you’re going through a domain rebrand, make sure you don’t just register a new domain name on Thursday at noon and then expect to start sending mail at 2:00 pm on that same day. Even test messages are likely to run into trouble. And keep in mind that this is all before we start thinking about “domain warming” and building up the domain’s sending reputation over the first few weeks of sending. The spikes will damage your tires before you ever get that far.

(Also keep in mind that "24 hours" is the Spamhaus measure of newness. Others will look at different metrics. I suggest making sure a new domain is at least 30 days old, before trying to warm it up for commercial email traffic, just to be safe.)

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