If you want a dedicated IP, or if you already have a dedicated IP address with us, it's important that you understand the process and purpose of our dedicated IP ramp-ups.
Here we provide some practical examples of why and how we plan these ramp-ups and execute them for our customers.
How do I know if a dedicated IP is right for me?
Let's firstly look at the differences between, and the implications of, being in a shared IP pool compared to having a dedicated IP:
In email marketing, a shared IP pool is a group of internet protocol (IP) addresses used by multiple senders to send their email campaigns to their subscribers. The reputation of a shared IP pool is determined by the email practices of everyone who uses it to send emails from.
The advantage of using a shared IP pool for email marketing is that it allows senders who send either low volume or at a frequency less than daily or near-daily to still have access to high-quality email deliverability.
Mailbox providers expect to see consistent, steady volumes of traffic through IPs. By sharing IPs with other similar, reputable senders, the overall daily volume through the IP remains consistent which helps to avoid delivery and deliverability problems that could be caused by unpredictable sending.
At Dotdigital, we’re very proactive about list cleanliness and have strict import rules (Data Watchdog), as well as proactive monitoring for any sending practices which could affect other users deliverability that are using the shared IP pool.
For this purpose, we’ve developed a proprietary Automated Reputation Manager (ARM) which uses specific metrics and a scoring system to determine and move customers into the most appropriate pool, based on their email marketing practices. This helps us maintain consistent volume and quality of traffic through shared IPs, reducing the chances of delivery issues for our customers.
Mailbox providers have moved away from solely using IP reputation when deciding to place mail in the inbox. Over the last few years, sending domain reputation has become far more important. Sending from a custom from address allows our customers to build their own reputation independent from other senders - even those who send using the same shared IPs.
A dedicated IP is a single IP address assigned to a single sender with a high volume and high frequency of mailing. Multiple IP addresses may be dedicated for very high volume senders such as big corporate organizations or agencies. A dedicated IP is not suitable for smaller or infrequent senders who do not have a large volume of emails to send.
With a dedicated IP address, your email reputation is entirely based on your own sending practices.
Should I make the move to a dedicated IP?
You may consider moving to a dedicated IP address if:
Your email list is fully permission based, highly engaged and you have list hygiene measures in place that remove long term unengaged subscribers from your list.
You need complete control over your sending reputation.
You consistently send a high volume of daily or near daily email sends each month.
You have special branding or security needs (for example, you are a healthcare, financial services or B2B organisation that requires a dedicated IP address for compliance purposes).
You are interested in third party (Validity/ReturnPath) certification which requires a dedicated IP.
Pros and Cons of a dedicated IP
It's important to be aware of the pros and cons of a dedicated IP when making the decision to move to one.
With a dedicated IP, you have complete control over your email reputation. This means that any issues with the reputation of your IP address are entirely your own responsibility. You will need to take proactive measures to maintain a good reputation, and identify any campaigns or issues with your deliverability and take immediate action.
Accreditation and safe-listing
You can take advantage of a dedicated IP with safe-listing or certification programs as the IP is unique to you.
Mistakes can cost you
When using a dedicated IP address for email marketing, mistakes can have significant consequences. Even minor errors, such as sending emails to invalid addresses, higher than usual sending volume or including bad links in your email, can quickly harm your reputation. This can lead to emails being rate-limited, filtered into spam folders or being blocked entirely by the mailbox providers. If you get block listed it might take months before you’re able to see good results from your campaigns again, which can drastically impact your bottom line.
It takes time
Having no email reputation can be just as problematic as having a bad one. As a result, inbox providers are cautious of new IP addresses that have never been used to send emails. This means that you can't simply start sending emails right away from a new dedicated IP. Instead, you must take the time to gradually and carefully establish your reputation through a process called IP warming which involves slowly increasing the volume of emails sent through a new IP address. Unfortunately, this time-consuming process can take 3-6 months and be a roadblock if you need to start sending emails immediately.
Managing a dedicated IP requires more time and effort from an internal resources point of view. Campaigns need to be regularly monitored for any decreases in delivery, open and bounce rates to ensure that any issues are identified before they turn into a serious problem. You must maintain consistent daily or near-daily volumes, as fluctuation in volume can be interpreted as abusive by mailbox providers and lead to IP throttling (slowing down mail delivery) or blocking (mail bounces). On top of this, there is an additional fee for a dedicated IP and further costs can be accrued if you use certification and monitoring services.
Why do you need to ramp up a dedicated IP?
A new or cold dedicated IP address has no history, so you won’t be able to send emails straight away. Abrupt spikes in email sending volumes can have the effect of harming your IP’s reputation. Reputation is a huge factor for mailbox providers in determining whether to filter your email to the junk folder or block it altogether. If they choose to block you, your subscribers will never get your messages.
To prevent this from happening, you need to follow a custom created dedicated IP ramp-up plan based on your current engagement rates across multiple domains.
What is ramping up?
Ramping up or IP warming is the practice of gradually increasing the volume of email being sent using a dedicated IP address according to a predetermined schedule. This helps to gradually establish a positive reputation with receivers such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, BT Internet, and more, as a legitimate email sender.
Our ramping up process
A ramp-up plan is necessary to gradually establish a good sender reputation and is critical for new users or existing users who are adding a new dedicated IP address to their account. So how do we build your ramp-up plan?
To kick off the project, we ask you to fill in our deliverability questionnaire to gain information on your list size and composition, sending cadence, frequency and your engagement statistics. We then set up a kick-off call with one of our deliverability experts to go over your questionnaire in more details and discuss next steps.
IP ramp-up plan
Our ramp-up plans are individually created based on your own deliverability questionnaire and receiver-side compliance - this is what makes them so successful. To be able to create your ramp-up plan, we require you to provide:
Your historical permissioned database.
Your subscriber engagement data for the last 365 days
Your suppression list (all unsubscribes, plus hard and soft bounces).
Ramp-up plan review
Upon receiving your ramp-up plan, we then set up a call to walk you through it and highlight timelines and the template and content assets required. Your ramp-up plan specifies the daily sending volume per ISP (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, BT Internet, Apple, AOL and others), until we get you up to a business as usual level by the final day.
Ramp up Process
We design and execute your ramp up for you. We start by using your most engaged subscribers first to show ISP’s that your emails are expected, welcomed and engaged with before moving on to lesser engaged subscribers. One of our campaign managers gathers the email campaigns needed during the ramp up from you and takes care of data segmentation and deployment.
What's the difference between IP and Domain Ramp Ups?
IP ramp ups are more complicated and take longer to complete than domain ramp ups.
If your subscriber base isn’t highly engaged, particularly for certain inbox providers, there is an increased chance that the ramp up plan may need to be paused, rolled back to smaller volumes and re-ramped up if we’re seeing signs of spam placement, rate-limiting or blocking.
This can increase the amount of time required to get to your normal send volume.
We highly encourage new customers to start sending using the shared IP pool to ramp up their custom domain which allows us to gather a current picture of their database, analyse the results, and re-assess whether a dedicated IP is truly needed. If it is, we then have the most up-to-date data and a warm sending domain to start with, and can allow you to send business as usual traffic while warming a dedicated IP using a child account.
Why is a ramp-up plan needed?
A ramp-up plan, or IP warming plan, is necessary to gradually establish a good sender reputation and is critical for new users or existing users who are adding a new dedicated IP address to their account. Ramping up or IP warming is the practice of gradually increasing the volume of email being sent using a dedicated IP address according to a predetermined schedule.
Is there an average time for ramp up?
Due to the nature of ramp ups, we can't give an average time duration - but it would be safe to say that it can take anywhere between three to six months, depending on how big the overall list is in combination with the amount of engaged data you have. Please note that reputation is built over time and therefore, in some cases, it may take longer to establish a positive reputation.
How can we reduce ramp-up time?
In most cases, it is not possible to reduce the duration of a ramp-up plan. Nearly all email receivers have various, specific and proprietary sending volume restrictions. We automatically adapt sending pace as needed based on what we learn from the receivers. On occasion, if a plan is performing quite well, it would be possible to increase the volume of the segments which may speed up the plan and potentially reduce the time to completion.
Does a dedicated IP address always require a ramp-up plan?
Yes. Moving an email stream to a new dedicated IP address must be done with caution and a proper ramp-up plan can ensure this.
How do we complete your ramp up when we are still sending from our previous ESP?
We understand that sometimes it's not possible for you to interrupt your email marketing programs, and therefore you might need to continue sending with your previous ESP until you've completely moved over to us. Whereas this can add an extra layer of complexity to your plan, it can still be done successfully. If this is your case, then one of our campaign managers works with you to explain how we both need to proceed.