IP Warming: A Strategy for Better Email Response

Fun fact: before my days in marketing, I was a minor league baseball pitcher. And one important lesson from baseball applies equally to your email marketing campaigns: don’t forget to warm up.

In sports, neglecting to warm up is a one-way ticket to getting injured. With email, it’s exactly the same principle: forgetting to warm up can badly hurt your email delivery and response rates. In this article, we’ll look at why this is, and what you can do about it.

Why more isn’t better with email

Let’s say that you are a piece of software, designed to keep good email flowing and bad email out. It is a delicate balance: if you’re too strict, you risk blocking valuable business and correspondence. But if you aren’t strict enough, your clients will get flooded with spam. How do you handle this?

The answer is that you check for digital footprints of behavior that smells like a spammer. And one of these is a large volume of email coming from a brand-new IP address. You see, spammers tend to constantly open new fake accounts, dump a large volume of bogus emails, and then crawl back under the rock they came from, knowing they will soon get blocked. Response rates to spam are infinitesimally small, it’s a numbers game, and spammers know this.

So guess what YOU smell like when you blast out a major email campaign from a brand-new account? Yep – one of the bad guys. And the consequences can include poor delivery rates, greylisting or blacklisting, and more.

This is where the concept of IP warning comes it. It involves sending small amounts of email over time to build trust among your recipients and their automated gatekeepers.

Where IP warming comes in

IP warming is simply sending out small batches of emails over time from a new IP address to generate a positive sender reputation, which results in more emails landing in the intended inboxes. Two key questions to ask yourself about it is:

1) What does your warming schedule look like? This involves both your email volume and timing between sends. According to Salesforce, a common goal for IP warming is to build up an increasing volume of email over a period of 30 days or more, and this article provides a handy chart with a sample schedule and email volumes over time for common ISPs.

2) What is your target bounce rate during warming? You don’t want to arouse suspicion from ISPs by sending large volumes of low-quality leads, like spammers who “carpet bomb” large numbers of addresses with no thought for the consequences. This article recommends making sure you send to subscribers who are engaged and opted-in, sending quality messages, and avoiding sources such as purchased lists that may have inactive addresses, unwilling recipients and spam traps.

How we can help

A key part of the second point above is making sure that your target email addresses are accurate, genuine and up-to-date. Even the best lead generation process can still suffer from email contacts that change over time, people submitting phony addresses to obtain marketing goodies, and more, and a validation process can substantially lower your bounce rates and spam reports.

Tools such as Service Objects’ DOTS Email Validation, or our bundled DOTS Lead Validation service, can quickly and easily automate this process, with API-based capabilities that can be implemented directly in your business or marketing automation platform. And when you use these tools for IP warming, you can cost-effectively extend the response time for these validation tools post-capture to ensure deliverability.

When it comes to direct email marketing, warming up first is a strategy that will help your pitches in exactly the same way that it helped my (baseball) pitches. So here’s another pitch: talk to our friendly product experts to discover how you can get more ROI from your own email efforts.