It seems that while familiarity can often breed contempt in people, the opposite is true when it comes to Internet service providers (ISPs) and your email campaigns.
In a recent blog post we covered some quick tips for improving the deliverability of emails. Another method, albeit one that is a somewhat more involved and takes a bit more time to implement, is known as “warming up” your IP (Internet Protocol) address.
An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device or computer. The label can be used to identify the location from which emails were sent. For email marketers, warming up an IP address and familiarizing it with ISPs will fuel higher delivery rates and, ultimately, more effective campaigns and initiatives.
Due to the way ISPs work to minimize spam, if you start blasting emails from a new or “cold” IP address, such activity could raise some significant red flags, damage your mailing IP’s reputation, and start your campaigns in a hole from the get-go.
To increase delivery success and protect your investment in your IP address, consider implementing our top 10 “warm up” tips:
- Know the minimum: ISPs mainly target larger spam offenders. That means if your email database contains fewer than 10,000 prospects, you generally should not need to warm up your IP address.
- Set aside some time: It will take at least a month to build towards your desired email volume. The process should not be accelerated.
- Verify your SPF record: Before initiating your warming activities, make sure your Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record is verified. Google offers insight into that process here. An SPF record is a domain name service (DNS) record that identifies which mail servers are permitted to send email on behalf of your domain. The purpose of an SPF record is to prevent spammers from sending messages with forged “From” addresses at your domain.
- Start with your best contacts: Identify and collect your very best and latest (under a year old) contacts to start your IP warming initiatives. Using these contacts will enable high delivery rates and will help build your IP’s reputation.
- Warm up slowly: Start sending emails spread out over multiple days. If, for example, you want to initiate with 20,000 emails a week, send 4,000 emails a day for 5 days. If your bounce rate stays below 10% and your spam complaint rate remains under 0.1%, you can start to increase your volume in the weeks ahead. Continue ramping up until you reach your desired volume.
- Be consistent: To avoid getting your emails bounced by your recipient ISPs due to spikes in volume, send out a consistent stream of emails over multiple days.
- Keep a clean list: If your bounce rate exceeds 10%, clean up your list. Remove older contacts or those that have never engaged, opened or responded. Once clean, resume sending.
- Increase gradually: Once things are going well, increase your sends progressively over a month’s time. Don’t ever attempt to more than double your email volume in a single month. If you tend to email infrequently, (e.g. only one email campaign per month), avoid releasing more than 100,000 messages per day (although some experts say more than 10,000 is too much).
- Make opt-outs fast and easy: Facilitating opt-outs may prevent a person from reporting you as spam. The good news is an opt-out won’t hurt your reputation like being reported as spam will. A best practice is to automate opt outs to ensure they get off your lists quickly.
- Use a reputable email data provider: When expanding your contacts list, be sure to purchase from a proven, reputable provider who offers a written quality guarantee.
Warming up your IP address should be an important step in your email strategy. Starting small allows you to monitor for issues that arise from initial sends on cold IPs, without having all your emails bounce at once. From here, slowly increase sending volumes until you reach your goal. Doing so should set your email campaigns up for ongoing success.
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