With Ontraport, you have the choice of using our domains for sending email and hosting your pages, or using your own.
It’s okay to use Ontraport domains when you’re initially getting set up. But when you’re ready to go live, it’s really worth the extra effort to set up your own custom domain.
Here’s the difference between how shared and custom domains work, in a nutshell.
When you use shared domains, you’re essentially sharing your online reputation with everyone else who’s using that same domain. This is true whether we’re talking about Ontraport’s domain or any other service’s domain.
So let’s say that someone posts malware on a page that uses the same domain that you’re using. The whole domain might get blocked by virus protection and network security software.
The same goes for email. If someone sends spam using the same domain as you, your emails might get blocked as well.
So you can see how it’s a little bit like using a public restroom rather than one in the privacy of your own home. You keep your own bathroom clean and it stays clean!
At Ontraport, we work hard to keep our public domains clean as well. But using your own custom domain is great for building your own online reputation that no one else can mess with. It’s like having your own ensuite bathroom! Weird analogy, I know.
So here’s another one: Setting up your own domain puts you in the driver’s seat. You have complete control when it comes to hosting pages, sending emails, tracking link clicks, creating membership sites and so much more. Honestly, this capability is typically only found in very expensive enterprise-grade marketing platforms, so getting it at small biz prices is a huge score and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it. So you’re convinced now, right? Ok, stepping down from my soapbox.
There are two ways to set up your custom domain in Ontraport and it depends on how you want to use it. The options are:
1. If you want to let Ontraport manage the whole domain for hosting pages and sending email, and you won’t be using the domain for anything else, or 2. You want to let Ontraport manage part of the domain so you can host pages and send email, but you still want to keep partial control of things so you can host your wordpress site or something on the same domain.
For the first option, it’s really easy. You’ll:
1. Point your name servers to Ontraport. 2. Let Ontraport know you’ve done it.
For the second option, it’s just a tad more complex. You’ll:
1. Set CNAME. 2. Set 3 different A records. 3. Set a Text record for DKIM. 4. Let Ontraport know you’ve done it.
Let’s dive in!
This first option is for you if you’re just starting out. Maybe you don’t have a website or email account set up yet, and you plan to use Ontraport Pages for your website.
It’s also the easiest setup, and you can always switch to the other option down the road if you want.
Let’s say you just bought a brand new domain name and don’t have an email account set up yet. Or, you bought a domain specifically for use with Ontraport that’s separate from your main website. That’s cool too.
Either way, the first step is you’ll point your name servers to Ontraport.
You’ll do this by setting some settings in your domain registrar account. So, log in to your registrar. That’s the place you bought your domain name, such as GoDaddy. Once you’re logged in, go to your domain and find your DNS settings.
Set your name servers so that they say ns1.ontraport.com and ns2.ontraport.com, like this. Then click “Save.”
That’s it for the first step.
In fact, if all you want to do is use this domain for hosting your pages, there’s nothing else you need to do. And you can do this with as many domains as you like.
But if you let us know you did this, then our team can set up some stuff on our side that’s pretty tricky.
For example, it’s a good idea to use your own domain for tracking links in your emails. Also, If you want to open a Gmail account so you can receive emails sent to this domain, you’ll need to finish the second step, and it’s really easy..
Just chat or email Ontraport’s support team at email@example.com. Tell the team you want a “DNS SPECIAL” and let them know the domain you set up.
Our support reps will set up everything so that your email links and tracked links all use your private, custom domain. If you decide to use Gmail, you can do that too. Ok, now onto the second scenario, where you want to keep control over part of the domain for other uses - like hosting your main website - and give Ontraport control over parts so we can do our thing. Keep in mind that these settings are a little more complex, and your DNS settings can mess a lot of things up if you get them wrong. So, if you’re not confident adjusting these settings, don’t be afraid to reach out to our Support team or an Ontraport Certified Expert. Before we dive in, just know that our example here is the setup for one common registrar — GoDaddy. Other registrars might have slightly different formats. So, the first step is to log in to your registrar and find your DNS settings. Instead of setting nameservers, this time we’re going to find the “add a new record” button to create a new DNS record.
The first one you’ll add is a CNAME record. This gives Ontraport permission to send and receive mail on your behalf. For type, we’ll select CNAME, then for Name or Host or Host Name, we’ll use SMTP. Then where it says something like IP or Content or Points to, type in returnpath.ontramail.com. like this:
For TTL, you can leave that alone, or set it to 1 hour. Not a big deal here.
Ok, next we have 3 A records to create. Two for hosting pages and one for your tracking links.
A records give Ontraport control over subdomains of your site.
For example, if your main website is “PeanutsRUs.com” and you want to keep it that way, you’ll pick a subdomain and give Ontraport access to host pages there. In this example, we’ll use the word “Pages” as the subdomain. This means that in Ontraport, you’ll be able to host pages at “pages.PeanutsRUs.com” and also “pages.PeanutsRUs.com/anypagehere.”
To set this up, create an A record like this.. First we’ll create a new record, and for type we’ll choose A. For Name or Host we’ll write pages. If you wanted to use a different word here, you can do that too. We’re just setting a particular domain name to point to Ontraport. Our team expects you to use Pages though, so if you use something else, then let us know!
Ok.. In IP or Content or Points to - depending on your registrar - we’ll type in Ontraport’s IP address which is 126.96.36.199. And again, we can leave TTL as it is.. Save it and we’re done with that one.
Next, you’ll create a wildcard A record so that Ontraport can host pages at any subdomain of your subdomain. That allows us to create personal URLs for you, like “clientname.pages.PeanutsRUs.com.”
The entry looks just like the one before but with an asterisk and a period in front. So type is A, Name is *.pages, IP is the same: 188.8.131.52 and Save. Of course, if you used a subdomain other than pages in the previous step, make sure to use the same one here.
Next, you’ll create another A record for your tracked links. We’ll use “go” as the subdomain here, so your tracked links will look like “go.PeanutsRUs.com.” But again, you can use what you like. And again, if you use something other than GO, then you have to tell our team that so we can set you up correctly. Ok. For step 3, you’ll create a text record to authenticate your email. This is crucial for good email delivery if you’re going to send emails from this domain. So this one is type txt, and for name or host, we’ll enter “ontramail._domainkey” And.. for value… well, this is a long bunch of code that has to be exactly right, so copy and paste it from the link below this video.
Ok, that’s it for the hard stuff!
Finally, we have step 4. This one’s easy.
Just contact Ontraport support via chat or email and tell them, “Hey! I’ve set up all the basic records and I’d like a DNS LITE set up on my new domain.” And tell them your domain name.
They’ll know what this means.
As I mentioned before, if you used anything other than pages and go for the subdomains above, make sure you tell us that too. Once we’ve done our part, you can use any permutation of your “pages.yourdomain.com” link to host pages in Ontraport. For example, the following will all work if you type them in to the “Use my domain” setting of the Publish dialog in “Pages”: Now your emails will be sent from your own domain, and you’ll begin to build your own sender reputation. That’s all there is to it! Nice work! Your domain is ready. You’ve just learned how to set up a domain whether you’re using Ontraport Pages for your website or planning to do your own thing. Be sure to watch the rest of our “Getting Started” courses to get fully set up in Ontraport.