A Shared IP Address Isn't Always So Bad
If you have any interest in email marketing, you've probably heard me extol the virtues of using a dedicated IP address for sending your mass communications. The rationale is that if you're using a shared IP address, you're basically at the mercy of every other marketer who is also using that IP address.
Let me back up just a little bit here... First, as a small business owner / entrepreneur, chances are you never realized that the IP address you send your email messages from even matters. Well, it does, and here's why:
When the internet service providers, like AOL or Comcast or the myriad of others out there, receive email messages, they base the reliability of those messages on the IP address that the message is sent from. If they receive your message from IP address 126.96.36.199 and that IP address has sent a lot of spam in the past, there's a good possibility that your message will end up in the spam folder.
The problem is, every other marketer who is also using your IP address 188.8.131.52 to send messages is contributing to the reputation of that IP address. So even if you're using fully compliant double opt-in email best practices, you could still be penalized based on what someone else has done.
So it would seem logical that you should always use a dedicated IP address to send all your email messages and then you won't ever have to worry about what any unscrupulous marketers might be doing.
Unfortunately, dedicated IP addresses can be expensive. If you're an entrepreneur with limited resources, it might be difficult to fit a dedicated IP address into your marketing budget.
The good news is, it might actually be beneficial for you to use a shared IP address, especially if you're just starting out and your list is relatively small.
In order to qualify for a "clean" email reputation, you must send a relatively high volume of email messages on a consistent basis. If you're a low-volume sender, you probably won't qualify for an email reputation. And this can sometimes be just as detrimental as having a bad reputation.
Dishonest emailers often hop from IP address to IP address, trying to outrun their reputation. So an IP address with no sending reputation can raise a red flag for some internet service providers.
And if you're a high-volume sender, and you suddenly start sending mail from a brand new dedicated IP address, this could also raise a red flag with the internet service providers. It can take months before the ISPs recognize your email sending pattern and reward you with a clean reputation.
What's An Entrepreneur on a Tight Budget To Do?
There are many Email Service Providers (ESPs) to choose from that will take care of the monitoring and reputations with each of the internet service providers. Using an ESP doesn't mean your mail will never get blocked, it simply means you don't have to take charge of fixing the problems when they do occur.
1. Even if you are using an ESP, always monitor your sending reputation. Make sure your domain name is not blacklisted or blocklisted, and make sure your joint venture partners and other sites you are linking to are not blocklisted.
2. Watch your bounces. If your bounce rate is higher than 2% this is a good indicator of a deliverability problem. It's important that you look into the cause of those bounces.
3. Track your open rate and click through rates by individuals and by internet service providers. If you notice that not a single reader with a Yahoo email address has opened your message, it could indicate a delivery problem, even if it does not show up in the bounce report.
Email marketing is an excellent way for entrepreneurs to distribute information and sales messages and to develop a relationship with prospects and customers. And the best part is, email marketing can be extremely cost-effective.