Every mail server is assigned a unique IP address that allows it to communicate with other servers across the Internet, similar to a postal address. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) use IP addresses to monitor internet usage and assign a sender reputation score to each user.
Sender reputation is used to determine if recipients receive your emails, if your email is sent to the spam folder, or if your email is delivered at all.
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Explaining IP warm ups
As your volume of sent email increases, you may need to adopt a new IP address to support your increasing activity. Because the new IP address has no previous history or activity, it won’t have a reputation score. This is referred to as a “cold” IP address.
The process of building up your reputation score is known as the IP warming process. The IP warm-up process occurs as you gradually send out email, giving ISPs the opportunity to monitor your sending volumes and identify your behavior, such as the number of people who open your emails.
The importance of the warm-up process is to show ISPs that you are not engaging in spam or other poor email marketing techniques. This helps reduce the likelihood an ISP will block or throttle your IP address and prevent your mail from being delivered to your intended recipients.
The IP warming process
ISPs recommend centering the IP warm-up process on internal addresses, which may consist of personal email accounts.
This lets recipients mark your emails as “not spam” and add your email address to a safe senders list, helping improve your sender reputation. It also lets recipients respond to your emails, driving up engagement and improving your sender reputation.
From there, you can continue the IP warm-up process by starting to send emails to your contact list. However, to avoid deliverability issues such as throttling, you should gradually increase target volume at a steady pace, rather than a rapid rate.
Due to the importance placed upon engagement data, a tactical way of operating is to focus on your most engaged recipients.
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How long does an IP warm-up take?
The length of the IP warm-up period varies across different timeframes and ISPs. In some cases, IP warming may take up to sixty days, whilst others complete their IP warm-up plan in thirty days.
IP warming is less commonly completed in the space of one or two weeks, although this outcome is a possibility for some email marketers.
If this is unappealing, automatically warming your IP address is an option offered by various platforms and vendors, such as Ongage.
When you create an automatic IP warm-up plan, your tool of choice will calculate your sending quota based on the number of days you’d like to spend warming up your IP for each SMTP relay you’re using. From there, you can make manual adjustments to your plan.
By throttling sent emails by the hour, the automatic IP warm-up process helps ensure high deliverability over the course of the warm-up period.
Shared IPs vs. dedicated IP addresses
Mail servers may have either a shared IP or dedicated IP address. Shared IPs are part of a pool of IP addresses, which means you’re sharing the same IP address with other email marketers.
As a result, you’re not in full control over your sender reputation. In contrast, a dedicated IP address gives you full control over your sender reputation.
Transferring from a shared to a dedicated IP address makes sense when you need to run high-volume email campaigns that will exceed 100,000 emails per month
The second reason for swapping from a shared IP to a dedicated IP address relates to needing to take complete control and save your own reputation after another sender in the shared pool accumulates a bad sending reputation. This may arise from issues such as spam complaints.
However, adopting a new dedicated IP requires warming, which means implementing a ramp-up plan and warm-up schedule to establish a positive reputation.
Do you need to conduct an IP warm-up for a shared IP?
Shared IP addresses do not need to be warmed up, which may be classed as a bonus.
However, as previously mentioned, its drawback is that other users of that IP can negatively impact your sender reputation and ability to send emails. Those who use a shared IP tend to eventually adopt a new dedicated IP address due to the difficulties they face.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and authentication failures
Most emails are authenticated through the Sender Policy Framework (SPF). SPF authentication works by communicating with a sender’s domain to request a list of IP addresses that are authorized to send emails from that domain.
If the relevant server doesn’t appear on the list of authorized IP addresses, SPF “fails” the email.
This is most commonly used to deter email spoofing, the process in which phishers use the domain of a legitimate email sender to send malicious emails.
An SPF record forms part of the DNS (Domain Name Service). The role of an SPF record is to list the authorized IP addresses which are permitted to send mail from your domain.
Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)
DKIM is a protocol that provides email marketers with a private cryptographic key encoded in the header of each sent email. Recipients then open emails using a public key stored on the DNS.
Using DKIM makes it impossible for anyone other than the original email marketer to send emails from that address or tamper with emails en route without access to the private key. Emails without matching DKIM keys may be routed to spam.
Domain keys tend to intertwine with SPF to prevent the same issues, yet the two systems have separate functions. Where the domain key is used to verify the lack of third-party tampering, SPF stops malicious messages being sent using a sender’s domain.
Do companies need DKIM?
DKIM warns email recipients that the email they are opening may be malicious. It also validates all data/information within the email and states that it was not tampered with by a third party.
Though the above sounds enticing, DKIM is very complicated to implement, meaning that many senders opt not to adopt it.
Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)
Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) builds upon SPF and DKIM to create a feedback system between senders and recipients. DMARC policies tell recipient email servers if a sent email comes from a domain that uses SPF and DKIM.
DMARC tells a recipient’s email server what to do if neither SPF or DKIM authenticates, indicating that an email may be fraudulent or malicious and instructing the receiving mail server to reject the email or mark it as spam.
DMARC also allows recipients to provide feedback to the sender about emails that pass or fail DMARC evaluation. This allows email marketers to learn about emails sent using their domain and to create a policy that indicates what recipients should do if an email sent using the sender’s domain fails authentication.
How to do IP warm-up with Ongage
Setting up an IP warm-up process can be labor-intensive. Fortunately, Ongage can automate IP warm-up after you establish a simple one-time setup.
After starting a new automatic IP warm-up campaign in Ongage, a preconfigured table automatically calculates your daily sending quota based on the number of the days you’d like to warm up your IP and the SMTP relay you’re using.
From there, a throttled number of emails are sent out each hour, ensuring high deliverability while gradually warming up your IP address.
We recommend that you spend between 20 and 30 days warming up your IP, though you can make manual adjustments as needed to tweak the number of hourly and daily send-outs.
The act of making your IP warm refers to the building of a positive sender reputation. The IP warm-up process is a common practice in email marketing, typically achieved through a ramp-up plan of sending a small email volume per day until you establish a positive reputation.
Warm IPs run more smoothly due to a lack of throttling, allowing for marketing emails to be sent freely. Start sending emails, such as your company’s latest posts, to your most engaged recipients to avoid being throttled while making your IP warm and building its email reputation.
The warm-up schedule can last anywhere from one week to 60 days, but can be made faster through automated software like Ongage.
Each time you adopt new IP addresses, you must solidify the IP address reputation to be accepted by your email service provider.
This is because your new IP address appears to the ISP as a new sender. IPs can be shared or dedicated, with dedicated IPs making the user’s reputation more secure. SPF and domain keys protect messages and can verify a new IP.