The concept of “warming” a new email sending IP address is often brought up by email service providers (ESPs) and marketing automation services when discussing the implementation of a new, dedicated IP. For those new to the mechanics of email marketing, the subject can seem a little peculiar. Common feedback providers receive on the topic includes “You mean I can’t send all my emails right from the get-go?” and, more simply, “Huh?”
While it saddens the marketing hearts of ESPs to say, “No, it will take some time to get you fully up and running,” there is strategic necessity for the “warming” process. Let’s dive into the what, why, and how of the reality that is warming new IPs.
What “warming” is
Dedicated IP warming is the process of preparing a new IP for full-capacity sending. It involves a “ramp-up” in which email volume is gradually increased over the course of several weeks until the sender’s full volume is handled by the IP.
Why warm the IP?
When a new IP is provisioned for use, its operational readiness is metaphorically colder than the frozen arctic. ISPs and receiving servers have never received messages from this IP before, so they are going to pay special attention to what is coming from it. If the receiver sees tens of thousands of requests for email access from an IP they have no history on, it is easy for the message and/or the sender to be flagged as unsolicited email.
In order to avoid being flagged, a warming process is necessary. By sending a small number (yet perpetually growing percentage) of messages off the dedicated IP, receivers can get used to seeing emails come from a certain IP – and the chance of delivery success increases.
As time moves on and IPs see engagement with the sender’s messages, an increasingly positive reputation is built and dedicated volume can increase (providing the feedback is positive).
How to warm the IP?
So just what does the warming process look like? How can one gradually establish a sending reputation so that long-term sustained deliverability is achieved? The most common method to achieve this is through the aforementioned ramp-up.
Here’s what a sample ramp-up schedule could look like. In this scenario, a sender with a customary volume of 500,000 emails per day can achieve 100% of volume within a month.
Week 1 – 0-10,000 emails/day on dedicated IP
Week 2 – 10,001-50,000 emails/day on dedicated IP
Week 3 – 50,001-200,000 emails/day on dedicated IP
Week 4 – 200,001 -500,000 emails/day on dedicated IP
What’s nice about the warming process is that it is completely managed by the email service provider.
IP warming is not just for dedicated IP addresses
It’s important to note that the concept of warming does not apply merely to dedicated IPs. If you are using a new service provider and taking advantage of a shared pool environment, it will still take some time to establish your reputation as a sender – especially if receiving servers are used to seeing your emails come from another IP.
In this case a quick ramp-up of sends over a period of one week, depending on volume, can help establish your reputation with the new provider. It will also let ISPs and receivers adjust to seeing your emails come from a new domain. And remember: Your email performance could be affected either negatively or positively, depending on the practices of the other members of the pool.
If you’re considering a new dedicated IP, don’t be afraid of the cold. Within several weeks your once-arctic IP will be as warm as toast.