Email marketing is all about effective communication. If a brand is to impart its message and succeed in its digital marketing objectives, then it must be able to reach its desired audience in an efficient and reliable manner. This is why deliverability is so important, as maintaining high deliverability ensures that outbound messages always arrive in the inboxes of their recipients.
There is a multitude of factors that can impact deliverability, both positively and negatively. Many of these are situational and depend on the specifics of your approach to email communication. IP warming is an example of such a situational factor and should be a major consideration for marketers who choose to use a dedicated IP address, specifically.
So, then what is IP warming, and how does it affect email deliverability?
What is IP warming?
IP warming is the process of familiarizing mailbox providers and ISPs with your sending habits.
When a sender begins using a dedicated IP address for marketing communications, they cannot simply begin sending messages in bulk. This is because, since a dedicated IP is created and assigned for the sole purposes of that sender, it has no prior history and, by extension, no IP reputation associated with it.
Without an IP reputation to use as a point of reference, mailbox providers cannot accurately determine whether or not that sender is a spammer, and so will not accept large volumes of mail from the IP.
As such, IP warming is a necessity for marketers who wish to send high volumes of mail on a consistent basis and is essential for achieving optimal deliverability with a dedicated IP address.
How does one perform IP warming?
IP warming is a process whereby a sender increases the volume of email sent from a dedicated IP address in order to build up a sender reputation for that IP.
If you’re using an email marketing platform and IP provided by an ESP (Email Service Provider), then the simplest way to achieve this is by availing of the IP warming service offered by your provider. However, you can also conduct IP warming manually.
To successfully warm your IP, you should begin by sending our small volumes of mail, then increase the number of emails daily until you reach your target volume.
Ideally, you will want to double your volume each day, however, it is important to err on the side of caution. Increasing your sending volume too quickly will result in problems with mailbox providers, which can lead to delivery issues, poor open rates, and ultimately the failure of your email campaign.
Depending on your target volume, IP warming can take as long as 8 weeks in some cases, and typically shouldn’t be much less than 4 weeks at a minimum.
How can one maintain high deliverability with a new IP?
Once you have successfully warmed your new IP address, it’s essential to follow email marketing best practices in order to maintain maximal deliverability for your campaigns.
The following are practices that will have a positive impact on the reputation and deliverability of your IP address:
1. Use a double opt-in
Email addresses that contain typos can cause your email to trigger spam traps, which can harm your deliverability. Using a double opt-in subscription method allows you to circumvent this problem by ensuring that all addresses in your email lists are valid. Moreover, it helps to build trust between brand and consumer.
2. Provide a simple opt-out mechanism
Though you may want to reach as many users as you can with your marketing copy, it’s wise to give subscribers an easy exit route. When users struggle to find an unsubscribe button, they may resort to using the spam report button, and that should be avoided at all costs.
3. Be consistent
If your sending behavior is erratic, mailbox providers will quickly notice and flag you as a spammer, which tarnishes your reputation. To avoid this, it’s best to send consistently, both in terms of volume and frequency.
4. Segment and clean your email lists
Regardless of how stringent your subscription process might be, your email lists will degrade over time. Users’ addresses may fall into disuse and become invalid, or certain subscribers may simply have lost the desire to engage with your content for one reason or another.
As such, it’s wise to segment your subscribers according to their engagement level, then remove inactive and invalid addresses at least once every 6 months. This helps to prevent bounces and drops in open rate which could harm your deliverability going forward.
As a marketer who is striving to reach a wide audience, you are likely going to use a dedicated IP address. In doing so, it is essential that you warm your IP thoroughly before attempting to perform send-outs at scale. Doing so will help you to start your send-outs at maximum deliverability, giving you the best possible chance of launching a successful campaign.