How to set up a custom mail server domain

Custom mail server domains are available on Enterprise plans.

If you're on an Enterprise plan, you can set up a custom mail server domain. Doing so will mask the email sending server with your own domain instead of an ActiveCampaign domain.  

What is a custom mail server domain?

A custom mail server domain is the actual name of the server that is sending your email. By default, all emails sent from our platform will show the name of our email sending servers in the "sent on behalf of" or "sent via" email headers:

ScreenSteps

When you set up your own custom mail server domain, you will see a different "mailed-by", "sent on behalf", or "sent via" field. If you want to completely remove "sent via" from your emails, you can follow the instructions in this "How do I remove the sent on behalf of header" help article.

Setting up a custom mail server domain will not change your ActiveCampaign account URL or tracking links. For more information on this topic, please see the "Custom domain versus custom mail server domain" help article.

How to set up a custom mail server domain

Customers on an Enterprise plan can set up a custom mail server domain. If you're not on an Enterprise plan, you can upgrade your account.

To set up a custom mail server domain:

1.  Set up a DNS custom domain (CNAME) record with your webhost. This record will need to point to the subdomain to cmd.emsend1.com.

For example, with GoDaddy, you will need to enter acmail as the Name and cmd.emsend1.com as the Value.

You can leave TTL to the default value.

Every domain host will have a slightly different method of doing this. Here are instructions for common providers:

Do not edit any other DNS records when setting up the CNAME record.

Please be especially careful not to replace or modify other CNAME records you may have set up like a CNAME for our Domain Alias feature.

Note that it can take from a few minutes to 24 hours for the CNAME record to propagate publicly. You can use this tool to verify that the CNAME record for your subdomain is set up correctly.

You should see a result like this:

2. Create a ticket and send it to help@activecampaign.com when you have set up the CNAME record successfully.  We will complete the rest of the set up for you.

Common questions

What is the difference between a custom mail server domain and a domain alias?

A custom mail server domain is a completely different feature than the Domain Alias even though both are set up via a CNAME record.

  • If you choose to use both features, you must use a completely different subdomain for each
  • These features are not dependent on on another, you can use one, both, or neither
  • You can only have one of each per account
  • Be sure not to edit the CNAME records that have already been setup or you can cause problems with your ActiveCampaign account that is using these domains
  • The domain that you use for a custom mail server domain cannot be used for anything else, including another email service

Read the custom domain vs custom mail server domain help article for more information on this topic.

What subdomain should I use?

To set up a custom mail server domain you will need to pick a subdomain of your domain to use exclusively as the custom mail server domain. If you are also using the Domain Alias feature, you must use a completely different subdomain. We recommend using a subdomain of the same domain you are using in the From Address which helps with domain alignment.

For example, if you are using jane@example.com as your From Address, you could use acmail.janescompany.com as the custom mail server domain, so long as that domain is not used for anything else.

What if my CNAME is not set up correctly?

If you have modified your DNS records and the CNAME is no longer resolving correctly, you may see an error like this when you go to send a new campaign in ActiveCampaign:

To resolve this:

1. Go to your DNS provider and re-add the CNAME record pointing to cmd.emsend1.com.

2. Wait 5-10 minutes and then refresh the Campaign Summary page. The error should be resolved.

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