Email Word of The Week: IP Address


OK, technically we should call this post “words” of the week, but for the sake of see what we’re getting at.

This week, we’ll take a dive into IP addresses - more specifically, the difference between  dedicated and shared IP addresses and how they affect email deliverability. If you’re not familiar with IP addresses, first let us explain; an IP address is the digital version of your house address. Every web server that can be accessed through the internet needs to live at an IP address. Perhaps you live in an apartment with multiple residents and families; this is the brick-and-mortar equivalent of shared hosting: multiple websites that live on the same server with the same IP address. Or, maybe you sprung for a single-family home, in which case you’d be an analogy for a server/IP that is dedicated to hosting only one website.

Cool beans, but what’s any of that got to do with email deliverability?

Good question! All emails originate from a web server, and as we just learned, every server needs a unique IP address. By default, your ESP will use an IP address that is shared amongst a group of email senders (“shared IP”) instead of dedicating an IP address to only your account (“dedicated IP”), unless you request (and pay for) it. The reputation of your sending IP affects the deliverability of your emails, so it’s worth considering which option is best for your business.

Shared IPs

When sending with a shared IP address, the IP’s reputation is at the mercy of you and everyone else emailing from it. This sounds scary, but most ESPs are pretty good at maintaining IP reputations and eliminating senders who don’t play by the rules. Still, moving away from a shared IP may sound intriguing, but another factor to consider is volume. If you send less than 100,000 emails each year, your sending volume would be too low to create any reputation on your own dedicated IP address, which would result in decreased deliverability of your emails. So, a major advantage of shared IPs is that you can piggyback on the higher send volume. As such, shared IP addresses are best for new and/or low-volume email senders.

Dedicated IPs

The major advantage of using a dedicated IP address is that you are 100% in control of its reputation. So, if you follow best practices and closely monitor email performance, you can maintain your IP’s reputation and not have to worry about other senders’ faux pas affecting your deliverability. However, like we mentioned above, sending volume is important, so make sure that you can commit to distributing at least 100,000 emails per year, otherwise using a dedicated IP will have an adverse effect on your reputation.

Most ESPs charge only $20/month for a dedicated IP address, so this decision is more strategic than financial. As always, if you have questions or want help deciding which option is right for you, drop us a line.

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