Key Email Deliverability Issues
IP reputation verses domain reputation.
Why should you care about either and what’s the difference?
If you’re already sending large volumes of email everyday, you can answer this question already. But if you are new to mailing off your own IPs it’s important that you grasp the difference. High volume email marketing requires a fanatical dedication to detail.
First off, deliverablity isn’t even a word! It’s just something we in the email marketing space have created to give name to all the
hoops you have to jump through steps you have to take to land a good spot in your subscribers’ in-boxes. Achieving good email “deliverablity” involves many moving parts. So, dividing the steps into “IP stuff” and “domain stuff”, is useful.
Let’s take a quick step back first and note these two things:
Clean list (REALLY. Freaking. Clean.)
You MUST have those two elements in place before we can even talk about how to have and maintain a good sending reputation. If you don’t already have a squeaky clean list of folks that want to hear from you, then… the rest of this post won’t be of much use to you.
Ya gotta have it.
Your sender reputation is important and sender “scores” are especially important for folks mailing off ESPs to ISPs. Meaning, you’re using a fully managed service like MailChimp to mail to Yahoo/Gmail/AOL etc. This is in contrast to your sender reputation as a bulk mailer, using your own IPs and hosting (via VoloMP), which rests largely in the power of your individual IPs and to a lesser degree, your domains.
When sending mail via an ESP you are using a shared IP, and thus the complexity of maintaining your IP reputation is greatly reduced. BUT this also means the ESP (or ESPs) you are using are watching you like hawk to make sure you don’t ruin a range of IPs for their other clients. That’s why it can be so pricey sending serious volume over a traditional ESP; you’re shifting the risk to their shoulders. That’s why your pocketbook is burning.
Never confuse the reputation of your domain (or domains) with your IP reputation. Your IPs are your little soldiers deploying to get your messages out into the world. Your domains are the soldiers’ uniform. Even your strongest soldiers need to look spiffy. You can also think of your domains as “brands”. You want to build-up a cool brand with the ISPs to which you send.
Big Email is Watching You
In fact, as time goes by, the importance of a good domain reputation will increase. This has to do with greater ISP monitoring sophistication and the changes that come as we all switch from IPV4 to IPV6. ISPs log how well your subscribers engage with your messages. If the mail you send from a certain domain fails to get opens and clicks they are less likely to let you land, tidily, into the in-box.
Domain Reputation May Dominate
ISPs have begun to place a greater significance on domain reputation as opposed to IP reputation because your domain reputation can be “portable.” It’s more democratic this way. This portable reputation rewards responsible, above-board mailers and punishes the ones that churn and burn IPs. The hope is that if you build up a good enough domain reputation, you won’t have to start from scratch, warming-up new IPs every time there’s a slip up or you want to add on another ESP. Your snazzy domain(s) will do all the talking for you.
Bulk Mailers are Still Special
But VoloMP clients, are special. Of course you, already knew that. Yes domain reputation is out pacing IP reputation in importance but high-volume email marketers, who are IP maintenance ninjas, still have the edge. Adhering to sending best practices still rewards high-volume senders the most. Because, one: most people don’t really follow best practices (even-though bossy pants bloggers implore them to be good) and two: nothing trumps golden IPs (yet).