Set up Look-alike Domains to Protect Your Primary Domain

Article author
Sarah Malone


Set up look-alike domains to protect your primary domain and improve email deliverability when you reach out to contacts via Apollo sequences.

A look-alike, or cousin, domain is not the same as your company's primary operating domain. Automated systems do not see it as a match. Nonetheless, it is a domain that most casual observers affiliate with your primary domain. For example, if is Apollo's primary domain, Apollo might choose to create a cousin domain like or

When you send cold emails from a look-alike domain, you help protect the sending reputation of your primary domain and eradicate the risk of negatively impacting the deliverability of your company's regular operational email.

Got Deliverability on Lock?

Does your team consistently follow good sending practices and targeting tactics and use compelling messaging that's optimized to drive engagement with your contacts? If so, it is safe to send messages via a tracking subdomain when using Apollo sequences. If not, Apollo strongly recommends that you create and use look-alike domains to protect the sending reputation of your primary corporate domain.

Refer to the following sections for the recommended steps when setting up look-alike domains for your cold outreach in Apollo.

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Step 1: Set Up a New Domain

To set up a new look-alike domain:

  1. Set up a new domain with your domain provider:
    Every domain provider has a different domain management interface. If you need help setting up a new domain, visit your domain provider's knowledge base.

    Here are some popular domain provider resources for guidance:
  2. Create a new email address: When you have set up a new domain, you need to create a professional email address with your mailbox provider (MBP) using your new domain. For further guidance, please refer to your MBP's knowledge base.

    Here are some popular MBP help centers for support:
  3. Finalize the setup: Head to your domain provider and configure the settings to finalize the setup process.

Now that you have a new look-alike domain, follow best practices to set your team up for success.

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Step 2: Follow Setup Best Practices

Before you link your mailbox to Apollo and begin your cold outreach, there are certain best practices to follow. Although a look-alike domain isolates your primary domain from the damage that poor targeting, content, and sending practices can have on your sending reputation, you should still follow best practices with your look-alike domain. It takes very little time to burn a sending reputation, and recovering or rebuilding it on another domain is a slow process.

To protect the reputation of your look-alike domain and optimize your sending efforts:

  1. Do not use more domains than necessary:
    When an MBP sees the same message coming from many different domains, it looks like snowshoe spamming. This is where a spammer spreads sends across multiple domains and IPs to avoid being caught.
  2. Allow your new domain to age:
    Spammers often register new domains and immediately start spamming through them. Almost all filtering systems will flag a domain as potential spam if it is less than a month old. Wait 30 days before you send any emails from this domain, and then begin sending emails slowly. Start by sending 10 emails daily and monitor open and click rates. After a few weeks, if your emails are performing well, slowly increase the number of emails you send. Remember not to exceed Apollo's recommended sending limits per mailbox.
  3. Publish a website on your domain:
    A simple landing page will suffice. Filters do automated vetting on a domain, including looking for a website.
    Play It Safe

    Please note, Apollo recommends that you don't forward traffic from your landing page to your main corporate site. You should also avoid including links or images that direct users back to your main domain. These tactics tie your domain reputations together and counteract the purpose of creating a look-alike domain for your cold outreach efforts.

  4. Avoid using DNS privacy:
    It's common spammer practice to hide behind anonymized registrars. As a result, if you register your domain with anonymized contact information, servers are more likely to treat you as a spammer.
  5. Follow domain authentication best practices:
    • Whitelabel everything to ensure all URLs in your messages and on your landing page link back to the look-alike domain and not your main domain.
    • Use a custom tracking link at the domain.
    • Set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC for the domain and ensure all links run through it.

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Step 3: Link Your New Mailbox to Apollo

When you've set up your new look-alike domain, link the associated mailboxes to Apollo and follow the mailbox configuration steps.

View all search filters.

When you link the mailbox(es), make sure you configure:

Now you're ready to create and enroll contacts into your Apollo sequences. Just make sure you adhere to the following best sending practices when you do so.

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Step 4: Follow Sending Best Practices

When you build your sequences in Apollo, follow best sending practices to optimize your campaigns for engagement.

  1. Don't link back to your primary domain from within your emails:
    Avoid linking to or including images hosted at your main corporate site. You must isolate the reputation of the look-alike domain from your primary domain. You don’t want automated link followers to add your main corporate domain to the reputation that the sends from your look-alike domain generate.
  2. Use different email templates for each domain:
    If you set up several look-alike domains and use the exact same messaging across each one, you risk aggregating your sending reputation across domains. This is because servers apply fingerprinting tactics to evaluate how recipients treat your messages. Data points include your domain and IP, the URLs in your messages, and the general structure of the messages you send. When you send the same message across multiple domains, you also risk being flagged for snowshoe spamming.
  3. Avoid "batch and blast" messages:
    Optimizing for engagement is key. Follow email best practices and avoid the common mistakes of inauthentic personalization. Resist the temptation of gathering a large list and bulk-sending all your contacts the same generic message. Instead, focus on clearly identifying your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), using search filters to segment your contacts, and enrolling them into sequences with highly targeted messaging that speaks to their specific goals and needs.
  4. Auto-assign emails in a sequence to increase your daily reach:
    When you add contacts to a sequence, select the auto-assign email toggle to rotate between the mailboxes you use to send your emails. View all search filters. Apollo then dynamically manages which email you send a message from based on the sending limits and availability of the selected mailboxes at the time of sending.
    Don't Mix and Match!

    For each sequence, you should only select mailboxes from the same look-alike domain to avoid aggregating sending reputation across your domains.

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