If switching to a new email service provider means you’re using a shared IP address, you can skip this post. None of this advice applies to you. A shared IP has a history and a reputation. To a receiving ISP, it’s a known commodity. You’ll be able to send email to your subscribers as soon as you’re up and running on the new platform.
On the other hand, if your ESP switch means a dedicated IP address, you’ll need to slow down now. A dedicated address has no history to be judged by. You have to make that history—and reputation—yourself.
Why you need to slowly ramp up your new dedicated IP
The ISPs that police email traffic are suspicious beasts, and with good reason. Spammers are constantly coming up with new ways to get past SPAM filters and to the inbox. That means ISPs are suspicious of new IP addresses, because these addresses have no history to indicate that they are being used by safe senders. Essentially you have no sender reputation—zero, nada, nothing—and, in the world of email, that makes you suspect. Unlike in a court of law, you are guilty until proven innocent.
That’s why you ramp up a new IP address slowly and carefully, giving the ISPs time to let you prove yourself, and slowly building up that good sender reputation that will get you to the inbox.
How to slowly ramp up your new dedicated IP address
Ramping up your new IP is not rocket science, nor does it require any fancy algorithms or formulas. You only need to take it slow and you’ll be fine.
- Speaking of slow, plan on taking at least 30 days to ramp up your new IP.
- Ideally, you’ll want to send to your most active subscribers first, so create a segment of the most engaged. If it’s a large number of subscribers, only send to portions of it at a time.
- Start with small volumes, just a portions of your list, and send only to these smaller numbers, slowly building up from a small volume to your full list based on results.
- Use less mission-critical emails for the purpose of ramping up, such as information news or customer surveys.
- Be extra vigilant about hard bounces. Remove and suppress hard bounces immediately and permanently.
In addition to these steps, you should adopt a DMARC policy. A DMARC policy tells the ISPs that your emails are protected by SPF and/or DKIM. (A DMARC policy is something you should have whether or not you’re ramping up a new IP address, by the way.)
What happens if you go for broke?
If you choose to disregard the best practices around ramping up an IP address, you are risking a lot. You could earn yourself a bad sending reputation that haunts you for months or even years to come. You will most definitely have deliverability problems, and possibly watch your numbers plummet. You could even find your emails blocked altogether by the major ISPs. And why not? You acted like a spammer, so you will get treated like a spammer.
Some email pundits call it warming up rather than ramping up and, really, warming up is a more analogous term because you are “warming up” the ISPs to the idea that you’re a safe sender. So take it slow and steady, so they get to know you a little at a time.
Marco Marini, CEO