Articles & Tips

Fly Solo or Commercial?

Have you ever dealt with on-boarding at an Email Service Provider? If you have, you've already heard one of the main topics of discussion regarding reputation and scalability. Are you ready to "fly solo" with a dedicated IP, or do you stick with the herd and "Fly Commercial," an IP pool?

Are you ready for a dedicated IP?
Is it better to be a part of the pool?
Initially, it may not be as easy as you might think determining which model fits your organization best. Bearing that in mind, here are some items you should consider when you make your decision.

1: Volume: What is your expected email volume?
Email is successfully delivered from sender to receiver based upon the reputation of the IPs used in the transfer. Large numbers of IPs means you have more pipes available to get email delivered to ISPs such as Yahoo!, AOL or Hotmail. Some ISPs have strict rules regarding the quantity of messages that will be allowed as well as the number of active IPs connecting from your server at any moment in time. If your mail volume exceeds 20,000 a week, you will need to determine if dedicated IPs will allow the kind of scalability to meet those rules. If not, then a pool of IPs which spreads the load out over a number of different IPs might be the more intelligent choice for you.

2. Deliverability: Impact on Deliverability
Email deliverability is typically based on IP reputation. That is each IP carries a reputation like a credit score. ISPs can determine what type of email to expect based upon the history of email received from an IP. While not completely without risk, if your mail can stand on its own, reputation wise, meaning low bounce and complaint rates, dedicated IPs should work fine. An IP pool's reputation will go up or down based on the email sent where one sender usually does not sway the reputation of the whole pool. Good reputation means great results, while a bad reputation will truly cost you down the road.

3. How is dedicated v. pooled different in implementation?
Typically, a new IP will be warmed up (or pulled from an already warm pool) and allocated to a sender on a dedicated system. This means special attention should be given to initial sending and ISP feedback. Dedicated IPs also require a bit of inflight tweaking as the ISPs learn what sort of mail will be delivered. But, once this initial ramping has completed, you’re free to do as you like as long as you don’t violate any ESP best practices. You also have more wiggle room for making your IP specific to you since you’re the only one it’s representing. Pooled IPs generally don’t require much technical implementation since the sending IPs are ready to go and have a critical mass of mail already being sent out. However, the business investment with vetting and passing certain ESP requirements can be heavy since the new sender has to prove they won’t do anything to risk the pool’s reputation and thus the existing senders using it.

4. Viva la difference! What’s the difference between Shared Pool versus Dedicated IP implementations?
In a dedicated system new IPs are typically warmed up or taken from an existing pool of warm IPs and then assigned to a sender which means special care should be given during initial sending and ISP feedback monitoring. These IPs will also require adjustment as ISPs determine the type of email that will be delivered. Once this ramp up time has been completed, you can loosen the reigns a bit. This time can vary greatly depending on your mailings. As long as there are no violations of ESP best practices your IP reputation is now based on your mailings and only you control your destiny. There is generally less technical implementation in the IP pool configuration since the sending IPs are already warmed up and have a large amount of email being distributed. This allows you to get up to speed in a shorter period of time, hence a faster ROI. The new sender however, still needs to prove their email won't disrupt the pools' reputation or you risk being removed from the pool.

5. ROI? Which is more cost effective?
More time, maintenance and effort is required to setup dedicated IPs. Each has its own associated bandwidth which means the cost is not shared and as a result, most ESPs charge extra. In addition the warming up period must be factored in while calculating ROI. The advantage here is autonomy and the potential for higher revenues.

Pooled IPs usually incurs no additional cost beyond normal sending which is a cost savings for the lower volume sender. No ramp up or warm up time gives you almost immediate revenue. Unfortunately you’re usually subjected to additional monitoring since everyone’s actions effect the pools reputation

6. Give me Liberty or give me? Consider Autonomy?
This is a critical question for any email sender.

  • Should your message go out with custom or grouped headers?
  • Is total branding crucial to your business?
  • Do you want to send on your own schedule as long as it is within the ESP's published best practices?
  • Are you concerned about what other email senders in the pool are doing or how their actions might affect your delivery?

When you use dedicated IPs you have more control over many of the actions around how the email is delivered. Many senders don't think about these questions as the email component is a smaller part of a larger marketing strategy. Some companies do not have capital or resources to afford dedicated IPs so an ESP is the only solution. Within the pool, you are put under the microscope based on what others are doing which impacts the whole.

As you can see, the choices are not as simple as one might think, but as email is more widely adopted as a marketing tool and customer communication method, taking all the points above into consideration will help you achieve success.

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