Technology June 8, 2020 Last updated June 8th, 2020 140 Reads share

A Complete Guide To IP Warming Before Launching Email Marketing Campaigns

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

Building a reputation is a gradual process. Communication drives customer rapport and businesses are leaving no stone unturned for reaching out to the masses. E-mails stand out on the top priority list of every marketing plan despite the dawn of social media. If you are among the 81% of SMBs or top MNCs that bank on email marketing for client acquisition, this one’s for you. Can your Business Development Representatives (BDRs) just start bulk emailing people about your products/services right away? No. You need IP warming or else you will end up in the spam section.

Why Do We Need IP Warming

Every new IP address on your account needs a warm-up before you start shooting emails. It is the same if you haven’t sent them for 30 days. So, what is IP warming? Let me make things simple for you. The analogy with workout is a popular one on the internet. Just like you warm-up your body before exercising, you need to warm-up your IPs before shooting bulk mails. If you fail to do so, you will end up hurting yourself in both cases.

Mailbox providers have a mechanism to filter contents that receiving parties either don’t want to receive or find malicious. Hence, ISPs (Inbox Service Providers) target bulk mails from unknown senders (which happens to be you) as a natural resort. Cold emailing becomes a nightmare if ISPs don’t trust you. This is a technical issue but it hurts your sales team and finances equally. You need to build a concrete sender reputation for your IPs to send bulk emails.

IP warm-up is the process of gradually increasing the mail volume to reach your desired traffic size. You need to warm up your IP because it acts as the single most important element of your identity. For mailbox providers, you are your IP and they recognize messages based on your history. If you regularly mail people and have a good open rate, ISPs trust you. If you have a negative impression or are unfamiliar, it leaves you in the spam folder. This is where IP warming kicks in.

On the other hand, many Email Service Providers (ESPs) pool IP groups for their clients. I think that this is not good for you since you don’t have complete control over it. Adding to it, you may end up damaging your sender reputation due to somebody else’s bad acts in the group.

What It Costs To Ignore IP Warming: Don’t Set Your Pile Of Cash On Fire

Simply ignoring it will jeopardize your sales plan. This is as awful as setting your stacks of cash ablaze. I am putting down the cons for you to understand why:

  • Low open rate
  • Spam complaints
  • Decline in engagement
  • Third-party blacklisting
  • Turning your IP address obsolete

Once you damage your rapport, getting a new IP address is the only solution since correcting old one is harder. It only gets worse if your domain too, gets penalized. Not only will you miss out on the ROI of $42 for every dollar spent, you will have to start all over again. Remember that your mails are among 2.93 billion others sent on a daily basis.

Hey Hustler, Look Before You Flex Your Mails

It sounds very logical and easy, right? In reality, it is not as simple as it appears. I want you to understand that a bunch of parameters are also involved in the process. Say that the first 10 sends had a low open rate, then you will officially start with a negative first impression. This will eventually multiply the spamming rate and end your email campaign before it takes off. Consistency is good only when you are heading in the right direction.

However, there are a few things you can do:

  • If things don’t turn out well right from the beginning, stop and reconsider
  • Step down your mailing frequency or stop it completely if required
  • Recreate your subject lines
  • Check out for hard bounces
  • Be conservative about your mailing list and don’t shoot in the dark
  • Immediately stop if you are working with a rented or bought mailing list

Now that you know about the basics and common pitfalls, let us move towards implementation.

Warm-up Types

There are two ways to execute this process. You can either do it manually in case of a new IP or automate it through APIs for existing ones. Email Automation also comes handy when you are adding new ones to the existing set. Your Email Service Provider will choose and execute the appropriate type for you.

Manual IP Warming

You have to gather email addresses in small chunks that continuously increase in size. Usually, you have to send these batches over definite time intervals and they double in size with each batch. Executing a warm-up schedule can take around 14 days.

Automated IP Warming

APIs are used to automate the warm-up schedule. The traffic is managed on an hourly basis and this method is suitable if you have other existing IPs. It allows you to send emails from your warm IPs when the limit for your fresh ones gets over.

How to Get Ip Warming Right at the First Time: A Step by Step Guide

I feel that you have to approach a suitable warming schedule based on your desired volume and current sender reputation. It requires persistence as issues are bound to arise. You have to fix them along the way. I also want you to be super careful because ISPs like Gmail also consider your domain as a parameter so you don’t want to adversely affect it out of mistakes. In this section, I am putting down a step by step guide for you to get things right every time you lay your hands on it:

Step 1: Complete the Following 7 Actions as a Preliminary Exercise

1. Set up the PTR record in your reverse DNS (Domain Name System)
2. Sign up for complaints/feedbacks with all leading ISPs
3. Get yourself a tool to monitor your sender reputation
4. Provide “Unsubscribe from this mailing list” button
5. Register your IP address with DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail,) DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance,) SPF (Sender Policy Framework) for authentication purposes
6. Register yourself with Return Path Platform and notify each time you add a new IP

In case of domain transfer, create abuse@yourdomain and postmaster@yourdomain accounts. Further, link them to abuse.net while also setting up monitoring

Step 2: Gift Yourself a Hygienic Mailing List

Getting a mailing list with readily engaged people should be on a high priority. If you face hard bounces in the initial stages, the damage will become hard to rectify. It is advisable that you set up a bounce processing system to remove any such receivers. The deliverability is bound to face some problems in the initial stages but you can overcome them by using an organic subscriber list. You can easily find them by checking who opened or took actions in the past week, month, and quarter.

Step 3: Action Time! Execute the Warm-Up

  • Start with a relatively smaller volume in the beginning. If you were previously mailing daily, the exercise could be completed faster. If not, it could take longer. Begin by mailing 2000 to 5000 subscribers (from all ISPs combined.)
  • As mentioned earlier, hit your loyal subscribers first.
  • Gradually include less engaged subscribers.
  • You can double your sending volume either every day or every 3-4 days whichever is feasible for you. I recommend going slow as it looks more organic and gives better results. Still, your prior sending volume and rate affect this part.
  • Continue doubling but not beyond the 14th day if you are in the 5 million+ subscriber club. It’s a rule of thumb that you need to follow.

Step 4: Recalibrate Your Efforts

There is always plenty of room for improvement. You can improve your opening rate by tweaking the subject line and running A/B tests to see what works the best for you. This also helps in avoiding spam trap hits due to poor permissions. Another reason to go slow is that you have enough time to see what is causing troubles and fix it in time.

Also, you should not rush with the schedule. For instance, if you were to send 20,000 mails on Day 7, and your bucket list contains only 18,000 addresses; don’t fill the gap. Staying disciplined with quality always pays off. Keep an eye on complaints and in case of any issues, stop sending for at least an hour or until you resolve the issue. Look out for common mistakes like hopping on an entire list or suppression list and in the worst case, a low engagement id list.

What to Expect: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

The initial stage is a teething phase and it will keep you on your toes. However, managing initial deliverability problems will help you build sender reputation among all mailbox providers including giants like Gmail, MS Outlook, Yahoo, and AOL. As a B2B or B2C firm, the email IDs sourced by your Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs) are extremely valuable to your business. Ending up in their spam folder due to cold IPs is the last thing you would want for your team. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of doing it right or making a mess out of it:

The Good The Bad The Ugly
Land in “Inbox” Land in “Spams” Complaints
High open rate Spam trap hits Third-party blacklisting
Higher CTR Lower engagement IP address & domain blacklisting

 

IP Warm-up Plan Template

I know that the actual plan for your business might differ, but still I am putting down a template for your perusal. This will act as a reference and you must follow similar tactics while incorporating above-mentioned best practices. Here’s your template:

Zeroing In: Consistency Is Not the Key

Towards the end, all of us shall agree that consistency is not the key, at least when it comes to warming up your IP addresses. It requires adaptability and constant efforts. Be consistent with the end results and shift your strategy as per situations. You may face delays and ISPs will also intentionally put you in the spam folder to see if anybody marks you as “not spam”. All such things are normal so stay confident as long as you are approaching it right.

Almost half of the customers want to see emails from their favourite brands every week. This should be enough motivation for you to rev up your efforts. I hope that you find this article resourceful and it aids your email marketing plan. Such technical glitches can severely impact the output of your SDRs and AEs while distancing you from your clients. IP warming is a must for all B2B and B2C firms. Following Infographic from Email Uplers will surely offer some really helpful insights. I wish all of you warm, sunny days ahead!

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Kevin George

Kevin George

Kevin is the Head of Marketing at EmailMonks, one of the largest Email Templates production company which specializes in converting PSD to email templates. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage and share insights with fellow marketers.

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