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How to use IP warming in your email marketing strategy

Learn how IP warming can help increase your email deliverability rate so you can reach your intended audience without risking being blacklisted.

When you meet someone new, do you immediately go in for a huge bear hug, lift the person off their feet, and do a 360-degree twirl? No, you probably don’t. You probably start off with a friendly handshake and introduce yourself.

If you try to start mass emailing thousands of people with a new account, you are going to get shut down almost as quickly as you would be by your new acquaintance. You need to start slowly and create a positive relationship before moving into best-friend status.

IP warming is one way you’ll establish trust with your contact list and also with the powers that be who monitor your every interaction. Do that, and you’ll be able to send as many emails as you want for every email campaign.

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What is IP warming?

Every device that transfers data online includes a unique set of numbers and/or letters to help track its origin. This is known as an internet protocol (IP) address. Your email account is associated with this specific IP address every time you send or interact with an email.

IP warming is the process of gradually increasing the number of emails sent from a new IP address to ensure that it’s not flagged by internet service providers (ISPs) and maintains a high sender reputation. An ISP will monitor activity from the account over a period of time to recognize, assess, and evaluate the traffic flowing through the IP.

When an email account is brand new, such as when you create a custom email domain, it hasn’t had the chance yet to establish a reputation and can be marked as suspicious. That’s why IP warming matters to business owners who email market and send transactional emails; it helps build trust with ISPs.

As more emails are transferred between the IP and ISP, the two begin to create a relationship where all your communication history is tracked to determine an overall sender reputation. Monitoring the key factors discussed later in this article affects your sending reputation and can keep your email address in good standing.

The difference between IP warming and domain warming

When you send a professional email from your business, it ends with your domain name (e.g., [email protected]). This is because your domain reputation is also attached to your email address. This part of your email also needs warming up, but is distinct from your IP.

Anytime you have a new website domain, regardless of whether you are using the same device and network, you will need to warm it up using the same process you’ll learn in this article for your IP. The ISPs will need to monitor your domain activity like they will in the case of your IP.

This point is important: A large sending volume of emails from a new or young domain puts your email accounts at risk for being flagged and lowers the potential of your email campaigns. Don’t think that just because you have warmed up your IP, adding a new domain will have the same results.

Pro tip

A large sending volume of emails from a new or young domain puts your email accounts at risk for being flagged and lowers the potential of your email campaigns.

Why IP warming matters

You already know when you warm up your IP that this creates a relationship with your ISP, but how does this improve your email campaigns to help you reach more leads?

ISPs monitor each IP address carefully, tracking its sending behavior and the responses from your audience. If an IP address is deemed “safe,” then it will be added to the ISP’s safe sender list, giving your account the green light when you wish to send more and more emails.

This is called email deliverability. Send a bunch of emails from a young account, and you risk an ISP filtering your emails, placing them in a spam or promotional folder, or blacklisting your account altogether.

Getting your email address removed from a blacklist is a long and tedious process. There is no guarantee it will be reinstated by your ISP, and, worst-case scenario, you may be forced to open a new email address.

IP warming allows you to send more emails so your campaigns have a better chance of reaching more people and creating more leads. Without it, you’ll never reach the level of emails required to see success running email campaigns.

IP warming is also important if you send transactional emails (invoices, payment reminders, etc.) from the same IP address and domain as you send email marketing nurture from. If you’re sending email marketing campaigns and are flagged as being potential spam, it’s likely your transactional emails going directly to customers will be flagged the same way.

The factors that affect IP reputation

While you are warming up your email account, you need to follow best practices to increase your open rates and sender reputation numbers. Several factors affect your IP reputation, and each one needs consistent monitoring.

Spam reports

When your audience opens up one of your emails, doesn’t like what they see, and then marks it as spam, that information is sent directly to your ISP. This signals your emails are unwanted and are having a negative effect on your audience.

To avoid spam reports, make sure your service is asking permission to send emails to every contact on your list.

Bounce rates

Anytime you send an email to a contact and it comes back with an online version of the “return to sender” message, the email has bounced. Your ISP is monitoring your bounce rates to check if you are mass-sending messages to emails that are interested in what you have to offer.

If an IP consistently sends emails that bounce, ISPs may label that IP as a source of spam. This can lead to future emails from that IP being blocked or sent to the spam folder, which can drastically decrease the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. 

Regularly clean your email list and use double opt-in methods to lower bounce rates.

Engagement rate

Your engagement rate is a measure of how interested your contacts are in what you’re sending them. This includes rates of opening and clicking on links, responding to emails, and forwarding messages to other contacts.

If your audience isn’t engaging with your emails, ISPs may think you’re sending unnecessary messages or even spam. To drive up engagement rates, personalize your emails and use segmentation to make sure you’re sending relevant content to the right people.

Unsubscribe requests

All your campaigns need to include an option to unsubscribe (as required by law), but a large unsubscribe rate doesn’t look good to your ISP. A high unsubscribe rate means the content you are sending your audience isn’t relevant to them and their problems.

Email segmentation is a great method for decreasing unsubscribe requests. This process splits your audience into different segments, better enabling you to offer personalized messaging and promotions for your service.

Email content

A number of smaller factors play into whether or not your email content is acceptable to ISPs. For example, if you used language that is considered offensive or sent pictures that were inappropriate, your ISP would flag it and lower your reputation score.

Here are some additional factors to consider when writing your emails:

  • Don’t include false or misleading subject lines
  • Avoid using all-caps and excessive punctuation
  • Don’t embed any malicious attachments or links
  • Use a clear sentence structure with concise, easy-to-read content

How to successfully warm up an IP sender domain

The process of warming up your email account is straightforward: Start off by sending small amounts of emails and gradually build up the amount over time. 

Unfortunately, there is no magic number that will automatically increase your email deliverability, but you can follow some general guidelines. For new accounts, start with 10–20 emails and increase your limit every week by another 10–20 emails. If you have the time and don’t mind manual work, you can increase the number of emails each day to warm up your IP even more carefully.

The next week, double your output and continue this process until you reach 100%. In total, you’ll spend about eight weeks before attempting to reach your entire email contact list.

Monitor your account closely during this period and check the key factors mentioned previously. Adjust as needed or pause your campaign completely if the numbers aren’t looking good.

Warming up your IP to reach more people

Warming up your IP for new email accounts helps put your account in good standing with ISPs. It also prevents blacklistings or spam labels. It involves sending a low amount of emails when starting outreach and slowly increasing the numbers over time.

Monitoring the key factors that affect your IP reputation and slowly building the number of people you email will warm your IP. This gives your business the best chance at increasing email deliverability and not having emails to spam. 

HoneyBook’s domain authentication checker makes it easy to secure your email domain. With Honeybook, you can secure your email but also all your client touchpoints and administrative work from one platform. 

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