what is my ip reputation

If you are a transactional or marketing email sender and have noticed a decrease in your email engagement and deliverability, it may be time to start thinking about your IP reputation. What is an IP reputation and how does it affect your email deliverability? First we need to understand what an IP address is.

An IP address is a unique identifier that links your device to your online activities like sending email.  With an IP address, your device is able to communicate with other devices to carry out user-driven commands.  

What is an IP Reputation?

Every time you send an email, your IP address is a part of the email header, not visible to the recipient.  Because your IP address is a part of every email you send, mailbox providers are able to monitor your sending practices.  As these mailbox providers collect data on your sending habits, you will start to build a reputation associated with your IP address.  Mailbox providers use this information to find and stop senders whose habits reflect that of a spammer or bad actor. How do they come up with your IP reputation?

Mailbox providers take a number of factors into consideration when monitoring your sending practices such as spam complaints, sending volume, sending to unknown users, industry blacklists and more.  Taking all of this data into consideration, the mailbox provider will associate your IP address with a unique score that contributes to your reputation as a sender. This score will help determine whether or not your email makes it to the recipients inbox, spam folder, or gets downright blocked.  If you start to notice more and more of your emails aren’t making it to the inbox, it could be a direct result of your sending practices.

While your IP reputation is largely a function of your behavior as a sender there are other factors that can contribute to your poor deliverability as it relates to your IP address.  For example, if you are a smaller sender, you’re more than likely operating through a shared IP address with other senders. This means that the poor sending habits of others could tarnish your reputation and hurt your deliverability.  This is why most senders will work with an email service provider, like SocketLabs, who carefully maintain their IP addresses to ensure that senders are getting the most from their email platform, even through a shared IP address.

Ways to Improve Your IP Reputation

If you’re starting to worry about your reputation and how it’s impacting your deliverability, don’t panic, there is good news!  No matter how many emails you send or what your current sending tendencies are, you can still make things better. The more effort you put in to following email sending best practices, the more effective your email will be in reaching the inbox.

As a high volume email sender, it’s important that your marketing and transactional emails are landing in the inbox and not the spam folder.  Even if you are sending legitimate email that recipients are opting in to, one small mistake can land your email in the spam folder. What happens if a customer doesn’t get an order confirmation on their recent purchase?  Or local firefighters don’t get an emergency response alert that is set up via email? As you can see, some emails are an extremely important part of daily operations. So, let’s discuss some ways to manage your IP reputation and increase your email deliverability.

1. Don’t send emails to unsuspecting recipients

It’s a good idea to stick with opt-in lists so only the people who want to see your emails are receiving them.  This will lead to more clicks, opens, saves, forwards, and positive interactions that will help your reputation.  If you start sending bulk email to some unreliable purchased email list, you will see a spike in spam complaints, blocks, unread message deletes and other negative reactions.  At the end of the day, the negative trends in user engagement will hurt your IP reputation severely.

2. Warm up your IP address

If you are a new bulk email sender operating through a designated IP address you will likely want to warm that IP address up over the course of a month or so, depending on your send volume.  What this means is that you limit the amount of emails you send through your new IP address, gradually increasing the volume sent over time. Why do you need to do this?  Mailbox providers will flag any new sender IP address if they send too much email, too soon. By sending too much email on a new IP address, you would tarnish your IP reputation, hurt your sender score, and ruin your deliverability. To learn more about IP warming, read our blog on how to warm up an IP address.

3. Separate your marketing and transactional mail streams

Generally speaking, marketing vs. transactional emails are two very different types of emails and they typically receive very different feedback.  What I mean by that is transactional emails, like order confirmations and receipts, are more important to the recipient and will typically receive positive engagement.  On the other hand, marketing emails, like promotional offers, typically aren’t as essential to the recipient and wont receive the same amount or type of engagement. So if you send your marketing and transactional emails through the same server, the poor performance of your marketing email campaign could hurt the great performance of your transactional email. The worse your email performs as a whole, the more your IP reputation will decline and the more your email will land in the spam folder.  To read more about how to separate your email streams, read our blog on mail streams.

Remember, the end goal for you as a sender is deliverability, and this is just one small piece to the bigger email deliverability puzzle.  To learn more about deliverability, read our comprehensive email deliverability guide.  If you want to know more about how SocketLabs can help optimize your high volume email sending for free visit our plans and pricing page.