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25 July 2022

You're so vain, I bet you think this post is about you

Before I inadvertently cause anyone offence, my shoe-horned Carly Simon reference is a tenuous link to what is technically known as a "vanity address".

A vanity address can take two forms. The first is a vanity URL. In the context of Quoox, this enables customers to use their own domain as the basis of their member's FitnessHub site. So, rather than https://mygym.fitnesshub.net/ your URL could be something like https://members.mygym.com/

The second form of vanity address is a vanity email.  In the context of Quoox, this can be used as your outgoing email address for emails sent via the Quoox GMS system. So, rather then [email protected], your email address could be something like [email protected].

To use a vanity domain you must own and have full control over the TLD (top-level domain). So, for example, quoox.com is a TLD. Additionally, you must also have control over the DNS setup for your domain.

A brief technical interlude

Historically, the use of vanity addresses would often require a compromise in security - often having to cease using SSL encryption, risking the potential interception and compromise of data. Clearly this isn't an option for a system of the nature of Quoox GMS.

In more recent years, vanity addresses became more readily employed on single-server implementations - such as those often sat behind basic WordPress sites. The growth of LetsEncrypt, the open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) then advanced this further and made it less technically complex for simple, single-server setups.

The challenge remained multi-server, multi-hosted systems, such as Quoox. This is where the system comprises a large number of servers, distributed across multiple data centres in multiple countries. Each user is routed to their local data centre, meaning that if you're on holiday in Los Angeles and accessing your gym's schedule in London, you will be connecting to a local US-based data centre.

Recent advancements in technology have made it more feasible to secure vanity domains at "the edge". This is the entry point to a secure network, and end-user security is handled at the edge point rather than on the server itself. A separate level of security encryption then exists between the edge point and the internal servers.

It is now possible for Quoox to offer vanity URLS for its FitnessHub members site.

Quoox GMS is unique in the fitness software arena in that it has a message centre and accepts in-bound messages. To handle this, the messages have to come through the Quoox network. Hence, each Quoox customer has a dedicated SMS address (used in the sending & receipt of text messages), and a dedicated in-bound Quoox email address (E.g., [email protected]).

Reliable email delivery is an art, and there are a lot of rules that need to be followed (GDPR being just one). To ensure control over email delivery and maintain an optimum 'trust score', Quoox has its own dedicated email servers. This ensures that Quoox emails are not tainted by non-compliant messages sent by other users or systems.

As with vanity domains, the use of vanity email addresses also presented delivery challenges. These days, emails need to be verifiable by at least SPF records and, more typically, via DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).

DKIM is an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in email, a technique often used in phishing and email spam. DKIM allows the receiver to check that an email claimed to have come from a specific domain was indeed authorized by the owner of that domain. The consequences of not using DKIM (or not using it correctly) are frequently seen by emails heading straight to "junk" and/or being labelled similarly to the below:

Be Careful DKIM warning

Quoox GMS now supports vanity email addresses for outgoing emails.

Incoming emails still need to be sent to your Quoox GMS email address, as they need to be routed to the Quoox system for ingestion. However, when your system is setup for a vanity email address the inbound Quoox email address will automatically be assigned as the "reply-to" address. Therefore, if your member receives a Quoox email from [email protected], hitting the reply button sets the reply address as [email protected]. The process is effortless for the member.

Implementing vanity domains with Quoox GMS

There are a few fundamental requirements for Quoox to be able to setup vanity addresses for your system:

  • You must have a TLD that you own, such as mygym.com or mygym.co.uk.
  • You must have control over the DNS for your domain, along with the ability to add new DNS records. This is normally done through an online control panel, for which you will need the login details. Most domain owners have this, but some website companies restrict what they permit their customers to do (for their own commercial benefit).
  • You must be able to receive emails at the administration address for your domain, typically [email protected][your domain].  This is actually a requirement of domain registration, but is not always implemented.

Most customers will have the above, or be able to arrange to meet the requirements with little effort.

The setup of vanity domains requires some administration work by the Quoox technical team, along with access to add new records to your DNS setup. Once access has been provided and the vanity addresses commissioned, setup is normally complete within 5 working days (often much less).

Vanity address are included with the Quoox SGPT Infinity product. It is also offered for a one-off setup fee for regular Quoox GMS customers.

Getting started

If you would like to commission a vanity URL for your FitnessHub site and a vanity email for your outgoing emails, please contact the Quoox team by raising a help desk support request.

If you are not yet a Quoox customer and would like to learn more, please book a call.

Alchemy

Alchemy provides the system, resources, and the practical advice & support that gym owners need to operate a profitable, "high ticket" membership, small-group training gym. Alchemy is the ultimate "SGPT toolkit".
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