Domain masking helps concealing the identity of your primary installation domain by forwarding your visitor to another website/domain name. Following passage will further help to understand few terms like primary domain, remotely hosted domain and masking domain. All these terms are important to understand before you setup domains for masking, and use these domains to conceal the identity of the primary sending domain.
a) Primary Domain/Local Domain
Primary domain refers to a domain using which you have installed Mumara. It can better be considered as main domain, local domain, primary sending domain or domain of current installation. To understand the whole process of setting up and making use of masking domains, let’s assume the primary installation domain is www.testprimary.com.
b) Tracking Domain
The primary installation domain/local domain is responsible domain for tracking visitor’s activity. Therefore the tracking domain isn’t different than the primary domain or domain of current installation. For our test case, the tracking domain will be www.testprimary.com.
Plus, by default, your emails will be sent using the primary installation domain/tracking domain. So, before it has gone through from any process of mask forwarding, your primary installation domain, tracking domain and also the sending domain would be one and the same.
c) Body Domain/ Link to Click
You might want your subscribers to land on a particular domain, which not necessarily requires being the link of your primary domain. You can provide the link of that domain in the body of your email for the recipients to click and land on it. This can be a complete URL or an anchor link tag as well. It is called the body link or body domain. Let’s for our test case assume this domain is www.testlink.com/land .
d) First Scenario: (Without Masking)
If no domain is available to conceal the identity of the primary domain, means domain for masking hasn’t been setup. Then the emails will be sent using the domain of current installation, which we have assumed as www.testprimary.com.
If the campaign has been scheduled to track the clicks, before the clicker lands on the destination domain which is www.testlink.com/land, application goes to the current installation domain (www.testlocaldomain.com) and stays there for a while to track the recipient’s activity.
In this case, before the clicker finally lands to the destination link, he/she will be able to experience this activity through the browser bar. The tracking link can be sighted in the status bar of your browser, with the hover of your mouse on the body link/ anchor tag.
e) Remotely Hosted Domain
The term refers to a domain hosted on a server other than the server of the current installation. As the domain of the current installation known as primary or local domain, the domain hosted on other server will be recognized as remotely hosted domain.
f) Second Scenario (Mask Forwarding)
The mask forwarding option offers an effortless way to conceal the primary domain/tracking domain. The domain which you want to display instead of the tracking domain is actually called a masking domain. If the domain for the masking is being setup, application will be able substitute the tracking/ primary domain with the masking domain.
For example purposes, let’s assume the masking domain is www.testmasking.com. Recipient of that email will be able to view www.testmasking.com instead of www.testprimary.com , even if the recipient hovers on www.testlink.com/land , www.testmasking.com will appear in the browser’s status bar as sending and tracking domain.
Mumara performs the whole process of forwarding so effectively that it not only prevents the user to see the actual domain from which he/she is actually redirected from, but at the same time it does not lose the tracking link in order to actively monitor the results. This lowers down the possibilities of getting trapped by the filters. Reach “Setup Domain Masking” under “Domain Masking” in the left side navigational menu to setup domains for masking.
Mumara offers two ways to setup domains for masking forwarding. Both these options are as following.
1) .htacess Mask Forwarding
.htaccesss is a configuration file which has an effect over the directory it is placed in, by using Apache based web server environment. From the two types of masking first one is through .htaccess. Following are the things you need to setup the mask forwarding appropriately using htaccess.
a) Masking Domain
After you select .htaccess as type of the domain forwarding you want to apply, you are required to provide the masking domain in the field below the “Masking Type” options. Masking domain is the domain that you want the recipients to view as sending domain instead of the primary installation domain. The primary domain (Domain of current installation) that is responsible for tracking will be substituted with the masking domain without losing the tracking link. You can use any domain, whether it is hosted on the same server or hosted with remote server.
Make sure that you have provided the correct path of the masking domain. If the htaccess is to be placed in the public_html of the main site, provide complete address to the masking website as mentioned in the Figure#7.1.1 below.
Figure#7.1.1: Qualified Domain Address without Directory/ Sub-directory
However In some of the cases, you may require to create a new directory. In this case, you must provide the complete path leading to the particular directory, where the file is to be placed in. Because .htaccess only controls the directory and subdirectory where it is located in. The following Figure#7.1.2 describes the path with an example directory “ht” where the file is to be placed in.
Figure#7.1.2: Path to .htaccess
b) Download htaccesss:
The next step after providing the masking domain is downloading the htaccess file by clicking the link “Download htaccess”.htaccess is complete file name and it doesn't need to have anything like file.htaccess attached with it, make it sure that the file remains in its appropriate way, and doesn't end up with an extension like .txt or .html.
Clicking “Download htaccess” will automatically download the file to your computer. Once done, access the masking domain and upload the downloaded file from your computer to the web root, where the files are stored, you can transfer the file using ways like via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
In case of Cpanel, the file needs to be placed in public_html folder and in case of Plesk the web root would be httpdocs. Once the transfer of the file is completed, reach the directory where the file is placed in, edit the file and modify it from htaccess.txt to .htaccess to make it work properly.
2) Setup masking using CNAME
The second option for masking is through CNAME. CNAME is the type of record in DNS, that helps to map a name to another name. Mumara enables to use the CNAME effectively in order to mask the current installation domain with another domain. Following is the process that you need to follow for the purpose of setting up domain for masking.
a) Masking Domain
“Masking Domain” name field has already been discussed above while discussing the first type of mask forwarding using .htaccess. This field needs to be filled with the domain that you want people to view in the address bar of their browser instead of viewing the primary installation domain/ tracking domain.
The masking domain actually points to the main/ tracking domain, but the viewer sees the masking domain instead of the tracking/ main domain.
For example, the application is installed using the main domain called www.testprimary.com, and you want some particular domain like www.testmasking.com to alias the main domain. You need to provide the complete qualified address in the field of “Masking Domain” to proceed.
Make it sure that you have provided the complete path including installation directory to work this configuration properly. An example of this is when you have installed the application by creating a new directory like www.testprimary.com/memebers, the masking domain URL must end with its path including the installation directory “members” in the end (www.testmasking.com/members).
Keep reading the relevant information followed by the Figure#7.1.3 for further understanding.
Figure#7.1.3: Masking Domain using CNAME
b) Creating CNAME DNS Record
As mentioned above, you are required to manage few things from your domain’s DNS setting. You can create CNAME using administrative tools provided by your domain registrant, or your host depending on your accessibility and convenience. To create a CNAME record using the above mentioned examples of primary installation/tracking domain and masking domain, go and sign into the domain’s account of masking domain (www.testmasking.com). Reach the page that might be called like Advance Settings, Name Server Manager or DNS Management to update the CNAME record. Update the required values including.
The Host, Alias or Name is the source field value you want to use, for example you are about to create CNAME record for docs.testmasking.com, then you would use “docs” as your host. It can be www, or anything relevant you want to use into the source field.
Then choose a record type from the list of record types available, select CNAME and continue updating the record.
You will have the field to enter the URL of the domain that you want to point to. In our example case, the URL field will be filled with testprimary.com. If the installation of the application (Responsible for Tracking) has been done using a separate directory like www.testprimary.com/members, don’t mention the directory name (After /) in the URL field, just provide qualified domain name and move ahead. However as mentioned above, you need to provide the directory path in the field of “Masking Domain” (www.testmasking.com/memeber).
Domain masking using CNAME will conceal the identity of primary installation/ tracking domain and whenever someone hovers on the links inside the email body, the recipient will be able to view the masking domain at the status bar of the browser.
Moreover, if someone types the masking domain address into the address bar of the browser, it will reach to the domain that it points to, but the URL stays unchanged. For example, www.testmasking.com points to www.testprimary.com, when someone types www.testmasking.com, it will show the data of the domain that it points to (www.testprimary.com), but the URL stays unchanged (www.testmasking.com).
Both setting up masking domain and creating CNAME in the domain’s DNS settings, are connected with each other so closely that it is necessary to implement both the setting levels appropriately, in order to make it work properly. There is no such compulsion to create CNAME before setting up the masking domain, or setup the masking domain before you create the CNAME. As mentioned, both are connected with each other and important to complete the setup.
Now as you have created the CNAME record successfully, and have completed the masking setup as well, you can click “Submit” towards the bottom of your page to confirm the masking of the of domain name.
c) Test Masking
After you complete the process of setting up domain for masking, Mumara offers an option to test if the type of masking you have setup is working properly or not? Towards the bottom of the page, click “Test Masking” and if the process is working properly, application will return with a success message, otherwise you’ll be informed about the error that occurs.
Make sure that in case of CNAME you have completed the DNS entry of CNAME record before you Test Masking, or in case of .htaccess forwarding you have appropriately placed the downloaded file in the web root or its respective directory.
Figure#7.1.3: Test Masking