IP warm up keeps your emails out of the spam box, plain and simple. If you are starting an email campaign must follow a few slow but simple steps to ensure email delivery.

Not doing this will put your emails in the spam box or worse yet, your whole domain blacklisted for spamming.

I learned the hard way by getting two domains blacklisted and banned because of bad DNS records. I also tried to send 10K emails on my first week that had hundreds of hard bounces.

So plan ahead and take your time, this is a slow process. Follow the instructions I have laid out below.


Get your own IP address

Email Sending Services like Sparkpost or Sendgrid will assign you a shared IP address to send emails from. These shared IP’s are more often than not are used by spammers or persons with misconfigured SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records and have a poor reputation most major ISP’s.

Email that originates from these blacklisted IP’s will be either sent to the spam folder or are blocked at the server level and will never see the inbox.

This is why you need your own private IP address, one that has never sent an email before. Most email sending services will offer you a dedicated IP address for a few dollars more.
Keep in mind that it is new, and email servers on the receiving end do not have any metrics on your sender reputation.

Pro Tip: Sender Reputation

Sender Reputation is a metric that is different for all ISP providers, there is no set rule. Mayor ISP’s have their own in-house blacklists. Smaller ISP’s and companies that manage their own email servers use third-party blacklists like The Spamhaus Project. They measure things like users flagging emails as spam or the amount of bounced emails originating from your IP and domain. Getting on a blacklist is easy, getting your IP or domain removed is next to impossible.


Warm up your IP address

Start by checking that everything is setup correctly on your end. I like to use MxToolbox.com. Test your domain for errors and correct as needed. Check out my guide on how to configure your domains SPF, DKIM, and DMARC records.

Now for the hard part, hard because what is required here is patience. Pick a small group of about 20 emails from friends and/or good customers, persons that you know will actually open and read your emails and send them a message. Do interact with them, reply to the emails. Some companies actually track email interaction to identify spam. Now start sending emails using this timetable provided by Sparkpost (you can read their IP warming guide here)

Read this if you are using a new domain!

If you are using a new domain (use one), you need to warm up your IP and your new domain also. This will make your whole warming up period slower. ISP’s dislike new domains that send out thousands of emails. You can read why you need a new domain here.


Add an Unsubscribe link

If you are sending out marketing emails, they must contain an unsubscribe link. Failure to do so is a sure way to get blacklisted by most major ISP’s.

Unsubscribe links are also a good way to not have email recipients report you as spam. Yahoo and Microsoft have recently added easy access buttons at the top of their webmail so users can report you as a spammer with one click, even if you are not.

You can read my guide on the benefits of Unsubscribe Links here.


Track your bounces

Another sure way to get blacklisted as spam is your bounce rate. Bounces happen when your email is rejected by the receiving ISP.

There are two types of bounces: Soft Bounces and Hard Bounces.

Soft bounces occur when an email is rejected because of IPS policies. These policies vary and can be as simple as a recipients email box is full or that your email looks like spam.

Hard bounces are the ones that will get you blacklisted. These occur when you send emails to nonexisting accounts. ISP’s view large amounts of hard bounces an indicator that your email list was obtained by less than legit means (you can google email scraping with scrapebox for more information on this).

You need to use a system that will automatically remove your hard bounces from your email list. Most major email sending service providers offer this, I personally use a combination of Sendgrid with Mautic.


Email Verification & List Cleaning Services

Sometimes you might have a large list of emails from a database (like a CRM software with a list of current clients). Sending out a large number of emails from these lists can be a dangerous proposition, they can generally result in a lot of hard bounces.

These lists can be plagued with typos and invalid emails. This is where an email verification service (email scrubbing) can help you keep a list clean of hard bounces.


Conclusion: Take it Slow

Sending out thousands of emails if not a simple task. If you try to cut corners and speed things up all your efforts will more than likely end up in someone’s spam box, so take your time.

This a marathon, not race.

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