You may or may not have heard of the phrase ‘Dedicated IP’ but if you keep any eye on t’internet about email marketing you should have by now.
Often it is perceived as uber tekki so marketers tend to shy away from it and some even panic at the prospect, well there is no need, it is a good thing and here is why…
Why a dedicated IP?
Out of the box most ESPs will put you straight into a shared pool of IP address and your emails will go out of all of them as will a few dozen-hundred other senders.
This is normal and will suit most good low volume senders, you all share the same sending reputation and due to the volumes being low individually, together they maintain a good rep.
Once you are sending over 50k a month consistently, your volumes will start having a larger affect on the shared reputation and this can make your own deliverability ambiguous.
In order to have full control over your deliverability you want a dedicated IP address. This is a single spot that your emails and only your emails go out from. You have full control over your reputation and subsequently your deliverability. This is very good thing and as well as your own success getting you better deliverability, it will also get you closer to being able to be Return Path Certified thus making your deliverability even more low maintenance.
How do I do it?
To get one all you need to do is ask your ESP for one.
You will probably need to send slightly differently for the first two to four weeks of having a dedicated IP just to make sure it gets off on the right foot, here’s what you do:
Week 1: send about 10k a day
Week2: send about 50k a day
Week3: up to 100k a day
Week 4: up to 250k a day
If you haven’t got more than 100k a week to send, it means you can go back to your more regular sending habit that much earlier. However, you may find that you don’t want to just fall back into your old ways as you have found that more targeted sends are far more profitable – which you should!
If you normally send one big chunk a month, eg: 600k-2million on a Friday afternoon, break it right down into smaller chunks and send them in small daily batches during this month.
If your total volumes take you over the preferred limit, take out the addresses that have not opened an email in over 3 months and only add address that have a verifiable opt-in – eg: sign-up form.
You may find that by only emailing the people who frequently interact that your open and click count does not go up or down but the percentage flies up. This will be because you are only emailing the people that are likely to open the email. All of the other people who were getting it but ignoring it are out of the way. So you will still be getting opened by the same people as before and the those who are useless too will not be in the way. Once the IP warming period is up you can break down the historical non-openers into to small groups and target them differently each week so see if you can save them or if you should just leave them out forever.
Avoid Bounces and Complaints
It is vitally important that you avoid hard bounces and being marked as spam even more vigilantly than usual because they will do a little more harm during this first month.
Avoid Spam Traps
If you are a big B2C sender, taking out your consistent non-openers (often called ’emotional unsubscribes’) for this period is vital. Very old email addresses can often be turned into spam traps by ISPs. Most of them will hard bounces for a while first so your ESP will have suppressed them but if you have woken up and old list – take it out and put it one side.
Any address that is more than 12 months old and has not opened in the last 6 months, just chop them off, they will do more harm than good in any situation.
It’s not an exact science
No matter how hard you try you can’t manufacture a reputation. Nothing is set in stone and ISPs can be fickle as. However most of this is from experience and research. Other people might start with 10k a day and slowly increase it every day for a month. Some people might just plough into it and just ride the storm until the ISPs makes a decision but the general census is that you start small and slow and gradually increase. One thing is for certain though, negative responses count for more in the early stages, so avoid them at all costs.
The Credit Rating Analogy
If you’ve never had any debt at all, you won’t get a mortgage. This is because you are an unknown as far as lenders are concerned, so they won’t take the risk.
If you’ve had a credit card and even sometimes missed a payment, you are more likely to get approved because at least the lenders can analyse the risk.
IPs’s deliverability are a mortgage from an ISP. They won’t just let you in until they figure out what you’re about. So in order to get in their good book early, play the game and don’t kill of your deliverability whilst you are making yourself known – it’ll be so very hard to come back from.
If you just get your head down and follow best practice, you will be fine.
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Edit 30/10/2010: Since writing this we have had a glowing reference from Al Iverson about this, so in case there is any doubt here is some back-up statements:
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