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Building IP Reputation through IP Warming (in Salesforce Marketing Cloud)

Building IP Reputation through IP Warming (in Salesforce Marketing Cloud)

Email deliverability is one aspect that gives sleepless nights to marketers worldwide as it can derail all the effort they put into designing and executing the best campaigns. There are multiple factors affecting email deliverability – domain, difficulty to unsubscribe, lack of engagement, no or wrong IP warming, URL shorteners – to name a few. 

What’s the point if your emails do not reach the consumer’s inbox or are put in the trash or spam folder? Email clients like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo provide the error code to identify the deliverability issues arising from the above reasons.

One of the critical issues that affects email deliverability is the reputation of the IP address from which the emails are originating. Email deliverability is a direct function of the reputation of the IP address. IP addresses can have no reputation or a bad reputation. 

1. Zero or no reputation happens in the case of implementation of Salesforce Marketing Cloud with a brand new IP address. 

2. A bad reputation is due to various reasons like:

  • No initial IP warming done.
  • There are inactive or dormant subscribers.
  • There are too many hard and soft bounces due to multiple reasons.

Now that you know the importance of an IP reputation in email deliverability let’s talk about one of the essential factors required to build IP reputation, i.e., IP Warming.

Before introducing IP Warming, we will understand the concept of Dedicated IP and Shared IP, and the scenarios under which you should use them.

  • Dedicated IP is a single IP assigned to your organization, and your organization is required to maintain the IP address’s IP reputation. You are responsible for conducting the IP warming exercise initially to build your dedicated IP address’s reputation. 
  • As the name suggests, Shared IP is an IP being shared by many customers simultaneously, and the IP reputation might be lowered because of someone else’s deliverability issues. There is no feature or strategy for you to enhance the IP reputation in case of any deliverability issues. If the deliverability issue persists, then you might have to shift to a new IP address. 

The message volume is an essential factor to consider while choosing between the two options. Dedicated IP should be selected in the scenario when your organization’s message volume is more than 100k messages per month. However, if the message volume is more than 2 million messages, it is recommended to consider multiple dedicated IP addresses. This scenario is not covered as a part of this article.            

The Power of IP Warming 

IP warming is an exercise done to increase the reputation of your dedicated IP address. It includes strategizing about the type of subscriber, email campaigns, and email volume. IP warming ensures your emails are sent in a pattern of increasing volume over a period of time to your trusted set of customers or prospects.   

When a new IP address is purchased for sending emails, it is not warm enough to have a reputation; it has a zero reputation. Email clients like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail check the email sent history for the last 30 days of the IP address to deliver the emails to the relevant inbox. Since spammers frequently use new IP addresses to send spam emails, email clients are skeptical of IP addresses with no history.  

The period of IP warming exercise can be between 4-6 weeks, and it depends on multiple factors like subscriber list size, quality of subscriber, send frequency, subscriber engagement, etc.

The below IP warming plan is for North American ISPs and should be adjusted for other regions. This plan shows the volume of email sends for 30 days for each ISP and domain in North America.

ISPs & DOMAINS

Day 1-3

Day 4-5

Day  6-7

Day 8-14

Day 15-21

Day 22-28

Day  29+

AOL & Yahoo

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Microsoft

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Gmail

5,000

10,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

ATT

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Spectrum & Charter

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Cablevision

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Comcast

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

Apple

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

All Others

20,000

20,000

20,000

40,000

80,000

160,000

320,000

In case the send volume can’t be broken down into various domains, the table below displays the simplified plan to warm up only based on the volume of the email sends. This IP warming plan might result in a slow warm-up process, but it will be easier to adopt for a few customers.

DayDaily Max Volume
1–750,000
8–14100,000
15–21200,000
22-28400,000
29-35800,000
36+1,600,000

IP Warming Best practice Recommendations

IP warming is a critical part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s initial setup, and you should deal with it through industry standard best practice recommendations.

Below are industry best practice recommendations for performing IP warming exercises within Salesforce Marketing Cloud:

  • Consult the customer to help them understand that IP warming is required to be completed successfully before the marketing cloud is ready for sending business emails or campaigns. 
  • Inform the customer well in advance about the timelines of the IP warming exercise i.e., 4-6 weeks, so that they can plan their campaigns accordingly.  
  • Choose the subscribers list for IP warming purposes with utmost care. The subscribers should be active and engaged customers or prospects who will open or click the IP warming email. This selection will make sure that IP reputation will increase gradually as a part of this exercise. 
  • IP warming should consider non-time-sensitive email campaigns like surveys, collect more subscriber details, etc. These campaigns can be sent across a span of weeks, and it will help other business-critical email campaigns run smoothly.
  • Identify the top domains in your target list and use them in your IP warming plan, as described above. 

Wrap up

IP warming is a critical part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud setup and a vital pillar for building an organization’s IP reputation. In turn, this improves email deliverability and helps marketers create and implement great marketing campaigns and reach out to their subscribers in the right place, i.e., their inbox. 

Based on the above mentioned IP warming plan categorized by each domain, Marketers or IT teams can devise their IP warming strategy based on the type of their customer and their email domains. 

For a more detailed understanding of the IP warming and its details, please refer to the Salesforce help documentation.

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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