What is an email domain? How can you get one?
If you’ve been asking yourself these crucial questions, you will get all the answers today.
Emails are an integral part of our personal and professional lives. At a personal level, emails help us convey information and stay connected with loved ones.
In the workplace, having an email domain allows you to communicate with workmates and connect with prospects and customers. Email marketing is a mega revenue driver worth 10.89 billion U.S. dollars .
And choosing a good email domain comes with a host of benefits.
This guide will explain what an email domain is, how to get one, and of course, what the benefits are.
📚 Table of contents:
- What is an email domain
- What are the benefits of owning an email domain
- How to buy an email domain
- Is it possible to get a free custom email domain
What is an email domain?
An email domain is the part of an email address that comes after the “@” symbol.
It typically represents the organization, company, or service provider associated with the email address. For instance, in
example.com is the email domain, indicating the realm within which the email address is registered or operates.
One email domain can have many email addresses associated with it. Each email address uses a unique username (the part that comes before the @ symbol) to differentiate it from other addresses sharing the same domain.
The email domain helps to organize and route emails on the internet. However, it doesn’t reveal specific details about where the email server is physically hosted or which company provides the hosting service.
Now that we’ve answered the basic question of what is an email domain, let’s move on to other related questions that you might have.
How is an email domain different from an email address?
Next, how does an email domain compare to an email address?
Many people often confuse email domains and email addresses. Although a relationship exists between an email domain and an email address, they are distinct entities.
Let’s unpack the difference.
What is an email domain?
As I’ve explained, the email domain is the part of an email address that comes after the @ symbol. This can be – but doesn’t have to be – the domain name of the website your email address is connected to.
An email domain is crucial for routing emails to the correct mail servers. When you send an email to someone, your Email Service Provider (ESP) looks at the recipient’s domain to determine the appropriate mail server responsible for handling emails for that domain. The ESP then delivers the message to the recipient’s inbox.
What is an email address?
An email address is the complete address used to identify an email recipient.
It consists of two parts – the local part and the domain part. The local part or username appears before the @ symbol and typically represents the individual user or mailbox within the domain. In my earlier example, in the email address
, user is the local part or username, and
example.com is the domain.
In short, all email addresses have email domains in them, but an email domain is just one part of your email address. Your email address has three major components, as shown below:
Email address = local part/username + @ symbol + email domain
Pretty straightforward, right?
Is there more than one type of email domain name?
Yes, there are two significant categories of email domains: public and private domains. The latter are also referred to as custom domains.
Public email service providers offer public email domains. As the name implies, public domains are available to everyone for personal use. The two most common examples that you’re most likely already familiar with are Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
These popular ESPs offer free email accounts and are widely used for personal communication.
Unlike public email domains, private domains are administered privately by different companies and organizations.
We can group private email domains into many sub-categories:
- Corporate email domains: These domains are associated with businesses, corporations, and other organizations. They usually use their own domain names for email addresses to maintain a professional appearance and branding. For example, a company named Apps Loft might use the email domain
- Educational email domains: Educational institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities often have email domains for students, faculty, and staff. These domains are used for official communication within the educational community. For instance,
@university.educould be the email domain for a university, and an email address using it might look like
- Government email domains: Government entities, agencies, and departments often use specific email domains for their employees and official communication. These domains help in distinguishing government-related emails from other types of communication.
- Country-specific email domains: Many countries have their own country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs), such as .us for the United States, .uk for the United Kingdom, and .th for Thailand. Organizations or individuals often use these ccTLDs as part of their email domains. For example, a business in the UK might have an email domain like
@businessname.co.ukand an email address like
These are just some examples of the different types of email domains. The kind of email domain used depends on the purpose and requirements of the email account holder, whether it’s for personal use, business, or any other specific use case.
What are the benefits of owning an email domain?
Owning an email domain has several benefits for businesses, organizations, and individuals looking to establish a professional online presence. Here are some advantages of having an email domain:
- Branding: Using a custom email domain (e.g.,
email@example.com) reinforces your brand identity and professionalism. It looks more polished and trustworthy compared to generic email addresses from public providers anyone can get.
- Credibility: A personalized email domain gives your organization a sense of credibility and legitimacy. It shows that you have invested in your online presence and are serious about communicating with customers, partners, or clients. This makes people less likely to assume that your email is a scam. Many email marketing services actually require you to use an email with a custom email domain for this reason.
- Memorability: A unique email domain can be more memorable for your contacts, making it easier for them to remember and reach out to you.
- Flexibility: Owning your email domain allows you to create and manage multiple email addresses for different purposes. As an illustration, you can create email addresses like:
firstname.lastname@example.org per your requirements.
- Scalability and Consistency: While both custom and public email domains allow for the creation of new addresses, owning a custom email domain lets you easily establish a consistent naming convention, like
email@example.com. This ensures immediate recognition and alignment with your brand. In contrast, with public email domains, desired names might already be taken, leading to inconsistencies like
Control and security
- Security: Some public email services have experienced security breaches in the past. Thousands of email addresses’ and information associated with them were leaked into the public domain. Using your own email domain allows you to have better control over your email security and implement additional security measures if needed – though this might require some technical know-how.
- Zero Ads: Public email services often display endless pesky advertisements, irritating you and your recipients. Using a custom email domain (usually – but not always) removes these annoying advertisements, resulting in a cleaner and more reader-friendly email experience. However, it’s worth noting that some hosting packages or inexpensive email services might still have some ads, so if this is a decisive factor for you, then it’s essential to read the fine print.
Overall, owning an email domain gives you more control in the ways discussed above. A domain is a valuable asset for individuals, businesses, and organizations of all sizes. While some initial setup and maintenance costs might be involved, the benefits often outweigh the investment in the long run.
How to buy an email domain
Now that we’ve answered the questions of what is an email domain and why you should use one, let’s explore how to purchase one. The first step in this process is to identify what your main goal is: email hosting or web hosting.
Email hosting vs web hosting
Email hosting is a specialized type of hosting that provides you with a custom email domain and a set number of email addresses.
Web hosting is hosting that gives you all of the tools you need to build a website. This often includes domain registration and email hosting, plus server space for a website and the ability to install a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress on that server space. The CMS is the core system used to build your website.
In simple terms, web hosting casts a wider net compared to email hosting, which has a much more narrow focus of only providing email services.
How to choose a company to register your email domain with
Now that you understand the difference between web hosting and email hosting, you’ll be able to choose a company that aligns with your goals for registering your email domain.
If your goal extends beyond just having a custom email and includes website hosting, then platforms like Namecheap or GoDaddy are fitting choices. They offer comprehensive services that cater to both domain registration and web hosting needs. They do also offer email-specific plans, so you may want to choose one of these companies if you want to start with email for now and have an easy way to expand into website building later on.
However, if your only goal is to buy an email domain and you have no intention of building a website at any time, you’ll want a company that’s laser-focused on email domains.
Zoho is one of the most well-known and highly reputable companies for email hosting and they will offer you a more streamlined experience if all you want is an email domain and storage space for sending/receiving emails.
Regardless of the company you plan to work with, there is one thing you’ll have to do with all of them: choose your email domain name. If you don’t already have one in mind, you can find one using our domain name generator.
Is it possible to get a free custom email domain?
It depends on how technical you want to get, but even in the best case scenario, there is going to be a caveat. Simply put, there is no real way to get a 100% custom email domain for an indefinite period of time. The three most common options that come the closest are:
- Free email domain hosting, but you’ll still need to buy the domain name itself
- Free custom email domain for your first year of service
- 100% free email domain and hosting, but the domain is not fully custom, nor exclusive
Let’s take a look at the three options in more detail.
Free plans with limited features
Some email hosting providers have free plans with basic features, including custom email addresses connected to a domain you already own. However, these free plans often restrict storage space, the number of email accounts, or other limitations. Additionally, they might display ads in your emails as a trade-off for the free service.
Zoho Mail offers a forever free Mail Lite Plan with custom email hosting services. You get 5GB of data, a 25MB attachment limit, and up to five people can use the account. However, remember you must already have purchased a domain to set up your free custom email.
Web hosting plans with free email domains
Many website hosting companies offer custom email hosting as part of their hosting packages. Once you pay for hosting, they give you a free custom email domain at no additional cost, but this only lasts through to the end of the initial term. Once the term is up, you will have to pay to renew the domain name. GoDaddy is one example of this. They offer hosting plans that come with a free domain name for the first year:
100% free semi-custom email domain name
The third option comes from mail.com, which lets you choose a “semi-custom” email domain name for absolutely free.
Semi-custom in this case means that they have a pre-defined list of over 100 email domain names that you can choose from. It’s a step above having a generic
@yahoo.com email, but it’s not completely custom, nor is it exclusive because someone else can also choose the same email domain name as you from the list.
It is, however, completely free (with optional paid plans).
Final advice on what is an email domain
One last time: what is an email domain?
In summary, an email domain is the part of an email address that appears after the @ symbol. An email domain is an integral part of an email address. Choosing an email domain is a vital step in setting yourself up for online success.
Choose your domain wisely for a stronger online presence.