IP Warm Up 101
We’ve been writing quite a bit about Salesforce Cloud Suite and how it helps companies but today we’re going to share about IP Warmup, a term we use when we discuss Marketing Cloud or Pardot email sending capabilities. Several times over the past few weeks we’ve spoken to prospects and existing customers on this topic and guided them on how to do it the right way, so we’ve decided to put it on the blog that can referenced in future. Let’s start by understanding what IP really is and what it does.
What is an IP?
IP addresses identify different computer servers around the world. You can identify an IP address by its four different numbers separated by three periods. It’s a pattern like this: aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd. For example, 101.231.019.145 is an IP address. Each number in an IP address can go from zero to 255.
While there are a limited number of IP addresses available, there are still plenty to be had. Almost any email service provider or web host has several “blocks” of unused IP addresses waiting for new customers. Don’t let anybody tell you they’re in short supply, and you have to grab one while you still can 🙂
IP addresses are important to email marketers because your IP address is directly tied to your sender reputation. And sender reputation has perhaps more impact on your deliverability rates than any other factor. And Your Sender Score is EVERYTHING.
Types of IPs in Email Marketing Tools
There are two type that we hear of when deciding on an email marketing tool, Shared IP and Dedicated IP. Shared is the one that is pre-warmed and is being used by a few other senders on the platform. This means, you can start sending out bulk emails without giving much thought to the warm-up process.
But Dedicated is a completely different story. For example, when a customer submits a SAP form for domain selection to Marketing Cloud, they are given a Dedicated IP, which has not been used for sending bulk emails and is comparatively new. Warming it up is crucial, and should be done carefully to avoid harming the IP reputation.
How to Warm Up an IP Address
In a word, gradually. This is also what we advise our customers, you need to start out sending low volumes of emails to your list. Then slowly ramp up to your typical sending levels (entire database in single email shot). This gives the ISP a chance to recognize and identify your typical mailing patterns. Hopefully, they will like what they see, so as they evaluate you as a “new” sender, they’ll let all your emails through.
It is important to note that it’s imperative to send at a regular frequency during warm up. Sending 50k in 1 send in the first week is not the same as sending 10k/day for 5 days.
What ISPs Look for in the Evaluation
They’re looking for spikes in send volume, but even more for how your subscribers respond to your emails. They want to see evidence of your sending relevant, valued information to engaged subscribers. So actions like clicks, forwards, and saving your emails to permanent folders would all be splendid things. They’re the sort of actions that lead ISPs to trust you.
Because how your subscribers react to your emails during the warming process is so critical, I would go as far as to recommend mailing only to your most active subscribers in the first phases of warming up your IP address. But we also need to remember that each ISP is different, for example Hotmail and Yahoo. Each of them has a daily sending allowance for all mailers. Exceed it, and they will block the excess emails. But as they come to trust the IP address, they will loosen the sending restriction bit by bit. Your warm up period and mail volume have to work within those limitations. Keep an eye on the stats for every send to make sure you are not seeing any abnormal spikes in any of the following:
- Bounce rate (hard and soft)
- Deliverability rate
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Spam complaint rate
Best Practices for IP Warm Up
Because you want the highest engagement rates possible during the warm-up period, sending certain kinds of emails can help. Welcome emails are a good choice, as these get some of the highest engagement rates around. Transaction emails, mentioned earlier, are also good. They get crazy high engagement rates.
Warm up is actually an ideal time to take a careful look at every aspect of your email program. Hopefully you can make some tweaks here and there to improve your results long-term, not just during the warm up.
During warm up and after that, it’s always best to do the right thing, ‘Honor your subscribers’. Study your analytics data to understand what your subscribers like. Work with your Salesforce implementation partner or the email service provider to optimize their experience. Keep creating great emails that are relevant and useful. If your subscribers are happy, the ISPs will feel like friends, not the email police. Talk to us today to book a consulting session on how we can help.