Challenge of the Week: Warming Up a New IP Address

Clients will often ask what we can do to help make the “warming up” process easier. When you come to a new ESP, you’re most typically placed on a dedicated IP address (or set of them), and it’s up to you, the sender, to build up a good reputation by sending slow and steady to your best subscribers over the first few weeks. This isn’t always an easy process, even with various tips, tricks, and MTA settings available to smooth things over.

Sometimes clients ask if we can just give them “pre-warmed up” IP addresses. We can’t do that, because to facilitate something like this would require that we force other clients to siphon their mail off to allow for the continual warming of new IP addresses. That means little bits of that clients' mail is always getting bulked or blocked intermittently, due to it being sent over new IP addresses. In this scenario, when you become a client of an ESP who works this way, some little bits of your mail would suffer this fate, probably ongoing and forever.
At the same time, we know that internet service providers (ISPs) really don't like to see this. They don’t want to see a client’s mail coming from dozens or hundreds of IP addresses, mixed in with mail from others; it looks too much like “snowshoe” spam. It makes determining a sender’s reputation harder, and occasionally an anti-spam blacklist like Spamhaus or spam filterer will just block the entire range out of frustration. I’ve seen this happen to at least one ESP whose sending model is the “old school” method of just sending everybody’s mail mixed up all together via a big group of IP addresses. A Spamhaus listing in that environment means ALL of the ESP’s clients are going to get blocked at Yahoo and Hotmail (and elsewhere) until the issue is resolved. Unrelated clients end up getting punished, blocked, for an issue that they didn’t even cause. That lack of “reputational segmentation” really puts everyone at risk -- risk in that it makes you (and other clients) more likely to be blocked, and risk to us in that it damages our industry relationships, because we’d be knowingly engaging in something that upsets these various receivers and anti-spam entities.

Because of that, we know that the best path is to solidly build up a sending reputation specific to and individual client over the first few weeks of sending. We do that by providing enough specific dedicated IP addresses to facilitate the desired day one volume. Our strong recommendation is always be to start with only the most engaged subscribers first; starting off with your best foot forward.
So if somebody offers you a solution that claims to offer “pre-warmed” IP addresses, be wary. It’s a risky proposition and it’s not a workable scenario.

To learn more about how ExactTarget can help you hit the inbox, visit our Deliverability Services page.


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