When it comes to email marketing, there’s nothing more important than making sure your messages arrive in inboxes as planned. That’s a simple truth. But the process of ensuring delivery isn’t always so simple.
If you’re experiencing email delivery challenges with your campaigns, one of the first things to take a closer look at is your internet protocol (IP) address. Deliverability issues can arise if you have a new IP address – whether it’s because you recently switched email service providers, added a dedicated IP address for transactional emails, or decided to spread out your large subscriber list to multiple IP addresses. When you start emailing from a new or “cold” IP address, your activity could raise red flags among the spam filters of Internet service providers (ISPs, e.g. Google, Yahoo). This, in turn, leads to a damaged sender reputation, which creates all kinds of problems for your campaigns.
To increase email delivery success and protect the investment in your new IP address, I recommend “warming up” your IP address gradually over time to establish your identity as a legitimate email sender with the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who essentially control email delivery around the world. Here are 10 tips:
- Plan ahead: Warming up your email address will take about a month if done correctly and thoroughly, which includes building up to your desired email volume. For this reason, marketers should plan ahead when creating their campaigns.
- Stay focused: ISPs target the major spammers who send the largest amounts of emails to consumers. That means some B2B senders who have a smaller, focused database of around 10,000 prospects may not need to warm up their IP address. If your database is larger than this, you will likely need to.
- Check your SPF: No, that’s not your sunblock’s rating. A sender policy framework (SPF) record identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain. Essentially, an SPF record prevents spammers from sending messages with forged “From” addresses from your domain. (More info on this is available here.)
- Start with your A list: By initially sending to your best and latest (e.g. under one year old) contacts, you’ll have the highest delivery and open rates and lowest spam complaints, which will enable you to start your IP reputation-building project on the right foot.
- Go slow: Spread out initial email campaigns over a few days, as opposed to sending out all emails at one time. If your bounce rate starts low (below 10%) along with your spam complaint rate (below 0.1%), you can begin to ramp up your email volume going forward.
- Avoid spikes: Sharp increases in email volume can increase bounces by ISPs. Sending out a consistent email stream is the preferred approach.
- Stay clean: If your bounce rate rises above 10%, clean up your database. Do a visual inspection and remove older contacts or those who’ve never engaged. Once cleaned up, you can resume emailing. Read my post on Spring Cleaning for more tips on maintaining an email list. There are different approaches for acquisition lists (for prospects) vs. customer databases.
- Honor opt-outs: Making opt-outs easy should prevent your recipients from reporting your message as spam. Opt-outs do not hurt your reputation, assuming you do these right away and without irritating those who’ve requested to unsubscribe.
Begin your ascent: Assuming things are going well, you may begin to increase your email volumes slowly over time. But try not to go above doubling your number of sends from the previous month. In general, most email senders shouldn’t issue more than 100,000 messages in a single day. (At OMI, however, we send quite a bit more than that, but email is our business so we have warmed up our IP addresses accordingly.)
- Use a proven email provider: When expanding your contacts list, be sure to license your email data from reputable providers who offer a written data quality guarantee.
IP address warm-ups are a foundational part of the email marketing process. They might seem like a hassle, but they advance you toward your end goal, which is to ensure your messages reach your customers, prospects and stakeholders.
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including millennials and other generations -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.