Set up Custom Domains on Gist (for Advanced Users)
By Jitta Rao
updated about 2 months ago
Important: This is a guide for advanced users with the tech know-how. If you a novice user and aren't comfortable customizing your DNS records, or if you don't know what they are, you shouldn't proceed. If you still want to proceed, you should consider hiring a developer to help you with the setup.
By default, if you send an email to your users using Gist, your users will see the sender's address as email@example.com. For example, if you're John Doe and your domain name is example.com, then your sender's address will be firstname.lastname@example.org.
A custom sending domain allows you to send messages via your own domain, rather than Gist's. This means that by default your emails will be sent from Gist's domain 'gistmail1.com'. If you'd like to use your domain URL in place of this, for instance, email@example.com, you will need to set up a custom domain on Gist.
Setting up SPF and DKIM
Your email deliverability depends on two factors:
- the reputation of your email marketing provider
- your own domain reputation
Gist's domain has a high reputation, and we send your emails via top email service providers, in order to ensure very high deliverability every time.
If your domain already has a high reputation, and you're confident of your email deliverability, we also offer you the option to set up your own custom sending domain, which allows you to set up authentication records with your webhost. This tells email providers like Gmail and Outlook that you are an actual business, and that you have given Gist permission to send emails on your domain's behalf.
The two most important settings that you would need to do this, are SPF and DKIM.
SPF, or Sender Policy Framework, protects end users against spammers sending emails in your name. An SPF record in your DNS Settings gives email providers a way to check or verify if the email sender is really you. This ensures the emails are really coming from you and that your users and subscribers are not being spammed by malicious senders. You can read more about SPF here.
DKIM, or stands for Domain Keys Identified Mail. It too was designed to prevent domain spoofing, or someone pretending to send from your email domain, when they really aren't. DKIM uses cryptographic authentication, which means the records we generate will be unique to you and your domain. Read more about DKIM here.
These records are required in order to send emails from your own domain and improve your deliverability to your subscribers.
How to setup custom sending domain on Gist
Step 1 - Go to Settings > Marketing > Email Sending Domain
Step 2 - Click on Add New Address
This is where you add your email display name and your custom email address. Whatever name you enter here will be visible to your users as the sender. Some examples of display names that would look professional would be:
- Jitta from Gist
- Team Gist
- Gist Support
- Gist Sales Team
You can use any such name as you may require, as long as it is relevant to the email address that you want to add
Important: There are three conditions here that would need to meet in order to add the email address successfully.
1. The domain of the email address that you add here must exactly match with the project domain.
Even if your business is the same, you would need the exact same address in order to go forward. Any deviation in the domain address would lead to an error in adding the email address.
2. You must have an account on Gist with the same email address.
3. The email address you enter must actually exist and be currently valid.
If you do not meet any one of these conditions, you will not be able to add the email address.
Step 3 - Add email and verify
Once you complete the above two steps, a verification email will be sent to the email address that you just added. You will need to complete the verification process.
Step 4 - Configure your DNS records
This is the most crucial step of all, and it is important to exercise caution when doing this.
Once you verify your email address with Gist, you need to configure your DNS records - this is to verify that you own the domain name and helps increase the deliverability of the emails you send.
This is typically done through your host or domain registrar ( godaddy.com, cloudflare.com, etc.). Instructions to configure DNS records may vary - make sure to check with your host support if the instructions are different or if you get stuck.
Gist will now provide you with a list of TXT records that you'll need to enter into your own DNS settings.
But, these are the basic steps that should work for most DNS providers:
- Scroll to the TXT section within the DNS editor.
- Create a new TXT record by clicking the "add" button.
- Set hostname to "gist.yourdomain.com"
- Fill the TXT Value field with your domain record ("gist.yourdomain.com").
MX records may be set up similarly, depending on your host. The most important things to note are:
- The record type will be "MX."
- The hostname will be "gist.yourdomain.com" or just "gist"
- The priority will be 10.
- You will need to set up one MX record, mx.sendgrid.net
Lastly, you will need to setup your SPF record. You can copy and paste the record seen below into your provider:
v=spf1 include:sendgrid.net ~all
Important Note for MX records
Many services by default add the domain to the sub-domain while a few do not add them.
If you have a domain "example.com", you will need to set up your MX record as "gist.example.com".
However, in some domain hosting services, when the hostname is added as "gist" in MX record, It automatically adds suffix ".example.com" to gist to make it "gist.example.com" as expected.
In this case, if the hostname of the MX record is set as "gist.example.com", it again adds another suffix to make it "gist.example.com.example.com" which leads to verification failure.
However, in a few other domain hosting services, when "gist" is added as the name for MX record, it won't let you save the record and it expects ".example.com" to be added. The same applies to SPF and TXT record as well.
If you already have an SPF record, it is important that you don't add a second.
Instead of having two SPF records, you should just add “include:sendgrid.net” to the current SPF record, like this:
v=spf1 include:sendgrid.net include:_spf.google.com ~all
The time it takes for the DNS records to be updated varies between 24 and 48 hours for most providers. If you're using Cloudflare, your DNS records will be updated within a few minutes.
Once your DNS records are in place, click the "Verify" button.
Once the verification process is over, you will see 'VERIFIED DOMAIN' in green, next to your domain, and you can then start sending emails from your own domain. This means your emails will be signed with your domain name.
Note: If you have multiple agents/teammates who you want to add to your project, just repeat the same process for each email address individually.
If you have any questions about setting up custom domains, reach out to support via chat in the lower right side corner.