HomeResourcesWhat is an IP warm-up, and why it is it so important?

What is an IP warm-up, and why it is it so important?

7th July 2023 - 5 mins


By Tim Roe

, Compliance and Deliverability Director

Tim Roe, RedEye’s Compliance and Deliverability Director, explains why it’s crucial you undertake an IP warm-up when moving to a new marketing automation provider.

You don’t have to listen or read up too much about email deliverability, before coming across the subject of warming up new IP addresses or domains.
It’s pretty widely accepted these days that when you move to a new marketing automation platform you are seen as a new sender with a new IP address.
Therefore, you must undertake an IP warm-up to get the most out of new IPs and give you the best chance of getting into the inbox.
Email apps on mobile

Why do the email receivers, (the likes of Gmail or Outlook etc) make it so hard on the senders (the brands)?

To answer that, we need to go back in the dim and distant past, back to a past when most businesses were still yet to embrace the value of email.
You see, there is no contractual relationship between those who send the emails and those who receive them. Unlike post, where you send a letter and the post office will make sure it is delivered (mostly), email relies on the cooperation of the receiver to ensure the email is delivered.
That cooperation relies on the senders and the receiver communicating with each other using an agreed protocol. It also relies on the senders respecting the resources of the receiver and their clients, who are the individual recipients of the emails and the customers you are trying to send to.
Checking emails on mobile

You’ve got mail – too much mail!

As the email channel started to mature, commercial email volumes grew rapidly and the pressure on receivers grew too.
There was an increase in legitimate commercial emails and illegitimate spam emails.
This also had the knock-on effect of making people’s email inboxes overflow with emails, some of which they wanted, and most of them they did not.
This forced the receivers of the emails, to put certain controls in place, to stop illegitimate emails and ensure that the legitimate emails reached their intended target.
All sounds good, right?
Not quite, as the volumes of legitimate emails were still very high, they had to prioritise those emails that were more likely to be wanted by the recipient, over those that were not.
Checking the Spam folder in Gmail

Enter the Junk Folder – the bouncer of the inbox entrance

The Junk Folder, where the less, or not wanted emails, languished, awaiting deletion.
Email receivers had worked out a measure that determined whether your emails were junk or not, it was a measure called Sending Reputation.
Sending Reputation is a measure made up of numerous data points, that vary by domain. Reputation management is a subject, but you don’t need to understand everything about Sender Reputation, to use it to your advantage.

A brand new email IP has no reputation, no history – no ID

This brings me back to the IP warm-up. As far as an email receiver is concerned, when emails start to be sent from a new IP, you could be anyone.
You could be a spammer, about to transmit virus-laden emails to millions of people. Or you could just be you – a reputable brand – about to send a newsletter to your opt-in customer base.
The receiver now needs to decide, if you are a good sender, or a bad one, without risk to its infrastructure or its customers (the recipients).
They do this by setting the triggers for junk box placement or blocking the IP address to a low setting.
For example:

  • The number of emails the receiver will accept will be low
  • The tolerance of hard bounces and complaints will be low
  • The tolerance of inconsistent campaign volumes with be low
  • The tolerance for sending to non-responsive emails will be low

The numbers start low, to allow the receiver to analyse the reputation metrics from the emails you are sending, such as opens and clicks, and can gradually build up confidence that you are a legitimate sender, who sends emails that people want.
The Spam Folder

Gaining a good rep to enter the inbox unopposed

Over time, the receiver will allow you to increase the volume of campaigns to a level that suits your sending reputation.
Done properly and with care, a new IP can be warmed up with the minimum disruption to your marketing plans within weeks.
However, if you rush this IP warm-up process by being impatient and wanting to send large volumes straight away to your whole database, then you run the risk of having a bad sender reputation and the likelihood that all your marketing emails going forward will land in the junk folder.
And we know, no one really will make a purchase from the junk folder.
Happy women reading mobile phone

Engagement segmentation is the key to a successful IP warm-up

All of these triggers and controls are automated and work by learning about your sending habits.
This is where segmentation really comes into its own because the most responsive and valuable customers on your database are going to be the ones that help you undertake a successful IP warm-up.
They are the ones who are most likely to open or click or buy from you. They are the 20% of your subscribers that provide you with 80% of your revenue.
Their activity is the type of activity that a receiver will mark as a sender with a high reputation and Inbox material.
So, to counter the seemingly draconian measures that the email receivers put in place, all you need to do, is follow the money.
Colleagues working together on laptop

We’re the experts at generating good sender reputations

That said, it’s just another factor to plug into the already busy schedule of running your email marketing campaigns.
Luckily, help with the planning and support of IP warm-up campaigns, is the bread and butter for the client teams at RedEye.
The RedEye team contains some of the most experienced email marketers in the business, who will be able to look at your data and give you the best advice.
This level of support will ultimately give you the smoothest onboarding experience you can get.

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About the author

Tim Roe
Tim Roe Compliance and Deliverability Director

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