How IP Warming Affects Sender Reputation
To achieve your goals in email marketing, the most important thing is to be able to reach your subscribers’ mailboxes consistently. This allows you to nurture relationships, build consumer trust, and ultimately help your brand to grow. In order to do this, you must ensure that you have a good sender reputation and high deliverability.
But how can you do this when starting out with a new IP? The key lies in IP warming.
What is IP warming?
IP warming is a process by which senders acquaint internet service providers (ISPs) and mail providers with their sending behaviors. This prevents senders from having their activities flagged as unusual or suspicious at a later point.
IP warming is not a necessity for every sender. Rather, it pertains specifically to the use of dedicated IP addresses. These are IP addresses that are designed to be used by single senders exclusively, as opposed to shared IPs, which are used by large pools of different senders.
The need for IP warming is a consequence of the nature of dedicated IPs. Since dedicated IPs have never been used for sending mail, ISPs and mail providers have no precedent for determining what constitutes normal sender behavior. This means that senders who try to send large volumes of mail from a brand-new IP will experience issues.
For senders who wish to enact send-outs at scale using a new IP address, IP warming is an absolute must, so it is important to allocate sufficient time for the process. As a rule of thumb, IP warming generally takes between 4 and 8 weeks, however this may vary depending on your specific aims.
How does IP warming relate to sender reputation?
IP warming is strongly connected to sender reputation.
As mentioned, when a sender’s IP has no prior history, ISPs and mailbox providers (MBPs) have no point of reference by which to gauge their trustworthiness. This means that they cannot assign a sender score to that IP address and are more likely to block emails when volumes reach a certain threshold.
Sending bulk mail using a new IP will cause messages to go to recipients’ junk folders or even bounce, which can be extremely detrimental to overall deliverability.
Conversely, a properly-warmed IP address has a clear sending pattern associated with it. When an IP has been warmed, ISPs and MBPs can use reputation scores to vet the sender thoroughly, and the result is higher sending limits and improved inbox placement.
In this sense, IP warming is not just important to your sender reputation, it is critical to achieving optimal deliverability.
How to conduct IP warming
Nowadays, IP warming can either be automated or performed manually.
Manual IP warming
To carry out IP warming manually, first decide on your target volume, then gradually work up to that number day by day. Many mailbox providers impose a cap of around 100 messages per day. Though this can vary, it is a good general indication of what your starting volume should be. For best results, it’s advised to use highly-targeted messages that will perform well in key engagement metrics, such as open rate.
From there, many senders strive to double their sending volume with each successive day in the first phase, then reduce the percentage increases slightly over time. Again, this may vary from one sender to the next. What’s important is to ensure that increases remain steady and gradual, relative to your target volume. As you increase your volume, it is a good idea to spread your send-outs evenly across each day.
Once you have reached your target volume, it is essential to maintain consistency with your sending. This will help to prevent issues in the future.
Automated IP warming
Alternatively, you can use an email-sending solution to help you perform IP warming, as most reputable email service providers (ESPs) now include this feature as part of their email marketing platforms. Using these platforms, senders can benefit from easy-to-use warmup blueprints which require minimal input.
When automatic warming is activated, the software will begin sending emails daily according to a fixed schedule determined by the provider. In addition, ESPs utilize email throttling to ensure that daily limits are not exceeded. This helps to optimize the warming process while simultaneously reducing the workload for the sender.
There are a number of important benefits that come with acquiring a new, dedicated IP address, chief among them being that you have total control over your sender reputation. By the same token, however, using a new IP means starting from scratch, and you will need to engage in IP warming in order to establish yourself as a reliable, reputable sender.
By carefully planning your approach to IP warming and maintaining consistency in your sending habits, you can ensure that your sender reputation remains optimal, giving you a solid foundation for email marketing success.
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