IP reputation – 7 ways to maintain it well
Every email marketer who runs successful campaigns (or unsuccessful) knows and understands the value of IP reputation. It can make or break the success of your campaign. IP reputation is serious business and those who work in email marketing understand that it is important to devote good amount of time in building and maintaining it. One word that triggers mass panic in email marketers is ‘blacklist’. It is email marketing jail and it goes on your record. IP stability and reputation define the difference between success and failure most times. To maintain good IP reputation, it is not enough to make sure that you do IP warming and send out emails in batches. The list runs deeper. Here we will focus on what IP reputation is, what IP warming is and what it isn’t and how you can maintain and manage good IP reputation.
What is IP reputation
Firstly, it has to be understood that your IP address is your everything. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, at the end of the day what you do through your IP decides who gets your mail and who doesn’t. SPAM scores are decided based on IP stability and reputation. To understand this better, you have to know that email inboxes remember where the mail has come from. They also understand new senders. This is where the art of IP warming comes into play. IP reputation, unlike most reputation building, does not need to be earned in the true sense of the word. It has a fresh starting and it can be built well. Spamming isn’t always the reason for IP reputations getting smashed. There are many aspects that need to be taken care of.
IP warming, the art and not of it
Every new IP address starts off cold, which means it is fresh and you have a slate to work on. It is often seen that most email marketers mess this benefit up big time. Commonly seen is the urge to send out all your emails in one blast. This is a strict no from IP reputation stand point. It can lead your IP being blacklisted before you even finish sending your mails! So, to make sure this does not happen, you need to warm up your IP. Sending mails in batches slowly; in a judicious manner helps.
You need to start with the best that you have. Pick the email list which you think has the least chances of bounces and spam. Use it first. Keep the initial numbers low. This allows you to track the response rate in real time. It really matters how you monitor it for the first batch. You can notice issues that can be fixed before the next batch is out. IP warming is required only if you are using a dedicated IP. This means that if you are using a shared IP, then IP warming will be done nonetheless. It has its own demerits, but the major selling point is budgetary constraints.
Here is a quick guide that will help you in coming up with the right approach to IP reputation building based on the number of emails you send per month.
Conservative business- Estimate your total monthly email volume and divide that number by 30. Then, spread your sending evenly over the first 30 days, based on that calculation.
Aggressive expansion- Estimate your total monthly email volume and divide that number by 15 instead of 30. Then, spread your sending evenly over the first 15 days, based on that calculation.
Now these numbers can be changed as per the time of business you are in. You can play around with the numbers based on the strength of the list too.
That being said, IP warming done well does not mean you get a good IP reputation. No, not at all. It does help the cause of course. What you have to consider here is that your email list, its quality, its SPAM score, subject lines, relevance to the audience, invalid addresses all add on. These are crucial to the success of your IP. It doesn’t matter if you do a brilliant job at IP warming, if your list is not of good quality and does not tick off the necessary email marketing bench marks, it really doesn’t matter. Consider open rates too. They matter and email inboxes will note these after subsequent sends. This is when you need to rethink the strategy, content and so on.
Opt-ins are the real deal
You may want to reach a large target audience and spread your message to the masses. But, if your message is consistently being delivered to people who haven’t explicitly given you permission, you are going to have a bad time. Hitting the SPAM button is the last thing you want your prospects to do. Passive opt-ins are not working out either today. You need to ensure that the subscriber understands that they will be getting communications from you. Another crucial aspect is that you need to make opt-out easier. Email ISPs notice these things and grade you according to the ease with which you allow users to unsubscribe.
Double opt-in for the bravest
If you really want to be at the top of the ranks, gain the best IP reputation there is; then you have to get to double opt-ins. This is the pinnacle of permission based marketing. It takes courtesy to the next level. Once your prospect has expressed interest in receiving your emails, you send them a mail asking them to confirm that they did in fact express interest. You cannot go wrong with this and the list that you create this way is the best of the lot. You really have to put in all your efforts towards nurturing them well.
IP rotation is not cool anymore
Take an IP and stick to it, unless you get blacklisted, then you have only yourself to blame. IP rotation is a dangerous game that you should not indulge in if you are serious about your brand image. If you do it, ISPs will notice and block the whole range, and you get stuck with nothing.
Bulk mails to the same domain name
This is a red flag for most ISPs. You do not need to send thousands of mails to the same domain name today. It is a rare instance. If you do need to, it is better to get special permission from the ISP. One single attempt to get through will have you blocked permanently from messaging anyone on that whole domain range.
Use IP reputation monitoring software
Most ISPs provide you with tools that can help you manage your IP reputation. It is necessary to get to use these tools, understand them and get all valuable information from your ISP. Get detailed delivery reports, health of your IP, daily tracking reports and so on. If your ISP doesn’t provide these tools, there are many available on the market today. They will check if your IP is blacklisted, what is impacting delivery and give you remedial measures.
Use a clean list
A clean and properly set up list is the basis of high deliverability. Remove all possible spam traps, invalid addresses and bounces. These can always affect your deliverability. It negates all that you do with your IP reputation practices.