Why You Shouldn’t Use a Free Email Domain to Send Messages to Subscribers

Your emails may go undelivered if you use a freebie address from Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, Gmail, or MSN. Here’s what to use instead

Want your emails to land in subscribers’ inboxes instead of their spam folders? Then don’t send your messages from a Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, MSN, Outlook, rocketmail.com, ymail.com, Zendesk or any other free Internet service provider (ISP).

The reason: Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance, a.k.a. DMARC.

DMARC is the current policy for email authentication. Basically, it’s an ISP’s way to protect itself from spammers pretending to send emails from their network. Any unauthenticated email — no matter how legitimate the content — could end up in a subscriber’s spam folder.

Say you’re sending a bulk message to your subscribers from your Yahoo! address through AWeber (which has its own servers). If Yahoo! can’t verify your email was actually sent through one of their own servers, the email is rejected.

Note: This is not an AWeber-specific issue — it will happen from any Email Service Provider you choose.

How AWeber Handles DMARC

As a work-around to DMARC, AWeber changes your “From” address. This rewriting process is automatic, so you don’t need to take any action for it to happen. Most of your subscribers won’t even notice the update and you can use your free domain address without any issues moving forward.

For example, if you are using:

Then it will automatically be rewritten as:

(Your Reply-To address will still be shown as testerjones@yahoo.com.)

Why You Should Use a Custom Domain

However, we recommend taking things a step further and signing up for a custom domain name to send your messages.

It not only improves long-term deliverability, but it also looks professional, builds authority and creates brand awareness. For instance, a new subscriber will be more likely to open an email from a custom domain name like Tony@AnthonysAutoRepair.com than from TonyLuvsCars73@hotmail.com.

Need more help with deliverability? Contact AWeber’s award-winning customer solutions team, 24/7 via live chat and email, or by phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

This post was updated to reflect the most recent changes to DMARC policy on 1/4/2018. 


  1. Neil @ CoffeeMoney

    4/8/2014 12:56 pm

    I’ve thought this was the case for a while – anyhow, why would you want a free email address for your reply to email? crazy. (and very poor branding) 🙂

  2. Ryan Nagy

    4/8/2014 3:00 pm

    We use an email address from one of our main websites: myname@mybrand.com

    No problem there. Though I do forward the email to my gmail account and reply from there. Although that is invisible to the client. It still shows up as my personal email myname@mybrand.com

    Does is matter if my mail gets forward to or through gmail? Thanks.


  3. jim cockrum

    4/8/2014 5:05 pm

    As far as I know we aren’t using a free email “from” address on any of our 100+ aweber lists, yet I got this warning today in the top banner about it. Did the warning go to everyone, or only those who have this issue?

  4. Brandon Olson

    4/9/2014 7:42 am

    Hi Jim. Our mistake. The notice was intended to only go to customers using Yahoo! addresses. If you aren’t using a Yahoo! address, please disregard the notice.

  5. Laura

    4/9/2014 12:27 am

    Do iCloud.com addresses fall into the category you are talking about as bad FROM email addresses? You didn’t mention them in your list of poor choices, although an iCloud account is not free.

    Thanks, Laura

  6. Jo

    4/9/2014 5:54 am

    A lot of people use the free email addresses because they can read their email from anywhere. They also use them because the ‘housekeeping’ emails for running email marketing lists can go there without jamming up their regular email box.
    A third reason, of course, is that they either do not have, or do not know how to set up, a custom email address for the website/s that they own. They might also get maybe one free one from their hosting service, and then have to pay for more thereafter.
    If you have a CPanel, a control panel, for your hosting service, such as at Hostgator, you can set up unlimited emails very easily, such as help@, support@ and so on.
    If you are with GoDaddy, you get one free one, and can buy more for relatively little cost compared to the benefits of having more professional looking email addresses.
    Check with your hosting provider to see how many addresses your account comes with. One other solution if you do not get any response from them is Google offers custom email addresses for business for $5 to $10 per month.
    Whatever choice you make, your own email address from your domain should boost deliverability and you do not need to be a rocket scientist to set it up, or a lot of money to do so.

  7. James

    4/9/2014 7:04 am


    I have known for a long time that Aweber does not fancy a client using a free email service, but the problem and issue then was that no detailed explanation was given, and basically lots of people, including myself ignored this. Due to this issue, I have noticed that most of my emails were not effectively delivered, but there was no way for me to determine the cause.

    Honestly, thank you Justin for sharing this detailed explanation, Its time to have a email address with my domain extension.


  8. Justin Premick

    4/9/2014 12:38 pm

    @Neil, I couldn’t agree more. Branding alone should be a good reason to use an email address on your domain.

    @Ryan, as long as you aren’t publishing your own SPF or DMARC records on your domain (and unless you went out of your way to do so, you aren’t), you should be fine.

    @Laura I include it, yes. I realize it’s not free, but the things that make using a Yahoo/AOL/etc address a bad idea also apply to iCloud. For one thing, even though the change that happened this week only applies to Yahoo right now, it’s of course possible that other mass providers of email accounts might do the same. Plus using an iCloud.com email address reinforces the Apple brand, not your own. So I strongly recommend setting up and using an address on your own domain.

    @Jo, thanks for sharing! Agreed, it’s pretty easy to do in any major webhost’s admin/backend area.

    @James, thanks for that feedback! It’s good to learn why people may not have taken the advice before. Glad to hear you’re setting up your address.

  9. jim cockrum

    4/9/2014 2:36 pm

    @Brandon – Actually I DID discover one of our lists that had a generic address being used! Thanks for the heads up!

  10. Kelly Rudolph

    4/9/2014 4:29 pm

    I’m with Ryan. I use my domain email address although it’s conveniently delivered into my gmail inbox and is sent via gmail as me at my domain name.com.

    Not a fan of free-looking things for business anyway like WordPress.org blogs or business cards that read, “Free business cards at VistaPrint.com” on the back because the business person declined the extra $9.99 or whatever it is now to remove that line.

    It’s VERY important to look professional and only requires a small investment usually to do so. It also helps business people FEEL more professional and that increases confidence, self-esteem and vibration to attract more business.

    I’ve been with AWeber for 6 years and am always proud of the professional way my emails and forms look and feel while I see many entrepreneurs seeking the cheapest and ending up looking that way. Thanks, AWeber! You guys and gals ROCK! 🙂

  11. Boris

    4/9/2014 4:42 pm

    Gmail allows you to change your e-mail address to one with your own domain name. So for example I changed my from boris@gmail.com to boris@mycompany.com. But this is still a Gmail e-mail address.

    My question is whether I’m save using these e-mail addresses as my FROM address.


  12. Jane

    4/9/2014 4:54 pm

    Justin, I have my own domain email, but all of my domain email goes through Google Apps to my gmail account, where I manage all my mail. But the actual email address that is in the From line is service@healthychild.com. Is that ok?

  13. Jaymar

    4/9/2014 6:51 pm

    I am interested to know if there is delivery problem if you use Google email app. I mean where the actual address is your own e.g enquiries@domain.com but you are using Google apps for delivery.

  14. Kay

    4/9/2014 11:55 pm

    I have a question or rather just a thought.
    My email is my business@FreeEmail.com
    Company name for branding and email service for free.
    Is this still bad?

  15. Justin Premick

    4/10/2014 7:41 am

    @Kelly, it’s funny you mention that. Tom (AWeber CEO) and I had that exact conversation yesterday about this issue. Totally agree w/you. And thanks for the kind words about our tools!

    @Boris, Jane, and Jaymar, you’re in the same boat as Ryan above. As long as you aren’t publishing your own separate authentication records (and if you aren’t sure, the answer is no, you aren’t publishing them – you’d know if you were), you should be just fine.

    @Kay, I don’t recommend that. Think about if I emailed you from AWeberJustin@gmail.com or something like that, claiming to be from AWeber. How seriously would you take me? I mean, it doesn’t exactly scream credibility (see Kelly’s excellent comment above for more on this). Plus there’s the risk that whatever free email service you’re using might do the same thing Yahoo did this week.

    If you’re serious about your business, it’s worth the time and cost to use your own domain. Most web hosting plans come with email as an included feature, and if you prefer Gmail, you can either set up a personal Gmail account to send as your business, or get Google apps, which starts at only $50 per year.

  16. RitzP

    4/12/2014 1:58 pm

    Hi Justin

    Would not it be better if you use your name like justin@aweber.com instead of using help or admin..or info


  17. Mitchell

    4/14/2014 1:13 pm

    After reading this, I made an email from BlueHost. I sent out a message to my list. I had a lot of open/click rates increase after that.

    Now I realize the difference when I had my FROM: to my @yahoo.com email address.

    Good looking out! 😉

  18. Justin Premick

    4/14/2014 2:07 pm

    @Ritz, that’s a business decision that will vary from business to business. In our case, we’ve opted for the help@ address because it routes to our Customer Solutions Team, who can quickly and consistently handle questions or issues that come in from those replies.

    @Mitchell, great! Glad to hear that it helped you.

  19. Dusty

    4/16/2014 10:31 pm

    I use the email set up on my hosting account, so I guess its good. I’m thinking I just need to see more traffic before I can determine where to adjust.

  20. Detry

    4/21/2014 9:43 pm

    How does this apply if I’m doing clickbank affiliate links to start?

  21. Wendy

    4/22/2014 3:02 pm

    This is kind of frustrating for one reason: whichever email address I use as my “From” address in Aweber immediately starts getting bombarded with tons of SPAM messages. That’s why I’ve deliberately always used Yahoo addresses, and kept my real business email addresses for paying customers. Now that won’t be possible. Is there any way to stop these “from” addresses from getting added to spammers’ lists?

  22. Juliel Perry

    4/22/2014 7:51 pm

    Hi Justin – I saw this warning a few weeks ago on the blog, and I wondered if I would be affected. I just received an alert from Aweber that notified me that my messages are being forwarded to an old yahoo account. I just logged in and removed that.

    Here’s the problem though: I received the alert even though my return email was officially from my domain (workonayacht.com). That domain is hosted via WP Engine, but the email is a different story. When I first set up this website back in 2006, I took advice from a friend to use Yahoo Small Business to build my site. The site has since been redone and is built on WordPress now, and as I mentioned, I took it off of Yahoo’s hosting by moving it to WP Engine. *BUT, the email stayed via Yahoo Small Business Apps. (I would have had to lose 7 years of emails that I still reference otherwise.)

    Therefore, this is similar to the Google Apps scenario, where someone’s email is name@thedomain.com, but the domain is hosted via Google (gmail). In my case, that email app host is Yahoo Small Business. The email shows up as being from my domain though.

    Receiving the notification from Aweber tonight could therefore either be b/c I had email notifications forwarded to an old Yahoo.com email, OR it was sent b/c you guys detected that my email is being run through Yahoo.

    I hope that makes sense. The question is then: do you think I’m safe from the problems that Yahoo email address holders will have?


  23. Justin Premick

    4/23/2014 2:35 pm

    @Detry – even if you are promoting others’ products as an affiliate, I recommend having a domain and an email address associated with it.

    @Wendy – what I suggest there is using a service like Google Apps to manage the email for your domain. I believe pricing starts around $50/year. It’s also possible to set up your regular webmail account to handle email for your domain.

    @Julie – I think you may have received that message accidentally. The program/client you use to fetch the email isn’t the important thing; the FROM address itself is. If your FROM address is your own domain, you should be OK to check the email for that address using a webmail client. I suggest giving our Customer Solutions Team a call to confirm that you’re in the clear.

  24. Juliel Perry

    4/23/2014 5:45 pm

    @Justin – Thanks for the reply. It is possibly I received it by error. Yet I logged in again and am still seeing the alert message at the top, so it makes me think something is getting triggered. The “From” address is, and has always been, my domain. (And the Small Biz Solutions service through Yahoo is a paid service — not the same as free @yahoo.com mail.) I assumed what was getting picked up was that I was forwarding information regarding subscribers to an @yahoo.com account, and with that removed, the alert is still there.

    I will give the Customer Solutions Team a call tomorrow.

    Thanks for your attention to my situation.


  25. Will

    5/1/2014 5:12 pm

    Just wondering…

    My aol address is not at all free as I am paying monthly for this service. Have been for years. How does this affect me?



  26. Tam

    5/30/2014 1:19 pm

    Wish I could do this with godaddy, but I’m not sure how to get the email from their account, nor how to send it through gmail. Ughhh….

  27. Tina

    6/20/2014 10:52 pm

    I purchased a Domain from GoDaddy.com is that what I would use for “sender name”?

  28. Thriving Elite

    6/25/2014 7:09 pm

    I can definitely understand how this can affect branding, and delivery rates and more, it seems like aweber is actually trying to help as opposed to just producing a service and forgetting about their customers, well done Aweber, cheers.

  29. James

    7/20/2014 8:01 am

    If I use an email address provided by bluehost which is my hosting site vs godaddy who I bought my domain through is there a difference? I can get one for free through bluehost but need to spend 4 dollars per month through godaddy? I want to save money, but don’t want to hurt my deliverability. Thanks!

  30. Travis

    7/22/2014 6:46 pm

    I actually switched my email to godaddy domain after seeing the suggestion a few weeks ago. As soon as a I did my delivery rate dropped 50%…

    So I am not sure what I should do.