If you’re considering whether a shared IP or dedicated IP environment is better for your business, this quick guide will help you decide.
We’ll explain the differences between the two and how your IP reputation can impact your sender reputation and email deliverability.
Let’s start with the basics.
What’s an IP address?
The Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) address is an identifier of a connected device used on networks both in-house (private IPs) and on the internet (public IPs). An IP address is made up of four numbers separated by dots – for example 184.108.40.206.
Where email marketing is concerned, the focus is on public IP addresses and how this is associated with your sending domain (for example, e.mybrand.com). IP addresses are either dedicated (exclusive to the sender) or shared (with other customers).
What’s sender reputation?
Sender reputation is the relationship built between sender and receiver (typically internet service providers (ISPs), to increase and maintain our deliverability. The higher our reputation, the higher the chance that your message will be sent to the recipients’ inbox.
Many factors influence the deliverability rate, in other words the proportion of messages which reach the inbox, vs. the spam folder, or in the worst-case scenario, not at all. While not exhaustive, these factors include:
- Volume and frequency of message sent
- Quality of data captured at point of registration
- Percentage of messages flagged as spam or complained about
- Inclusion on receiver blocklists
- Spamtrap addresses being sent to
- Engagement of mailings – are recipients actively responding to mailings?
- Reputation of the domain, and when it was registered
- Transparency of the domain (has ownership been concealed by privacy protection)
- The Top-Level Domain (TLD) – not all domain extensions are treated as equal
- Number of messages rejected (bounce rate)
- Quality and relevance of the mailings sent by an individual sender
- Unsubscribe rate
What is a shared IP environment?
As the name suggests, a shared IP address is used by multiple senders, and typically provisioned in a pool of multiple IP addresses. Most email service providers also offer shared IP pools. This means that other senders also use the IP address you are using to send your emails – and all of them could have the potential to affect your own sending reputation.
What this means for you is that you’re not the only party affecting your IP reputation, so you do not have full control over it. Sometimes, sharing is not caring.
As M3AAWG points out:
Sharing an environment between more than one entity means that the reputation for the IP is also shared. By provisioning a number of entities within a shared environment, mistakes made by any single sender in the environment can dilute the overall reputational impact.(Source: M3AAWG Sender Best Common Practices Version 3.0, p9)
As IP reputation is sensitive to changes in sending volume, there are circumstances where having your account provisioned to a shared environment could be more appropriate.
We usually recommend shared IP address pools for low-volume senders who send a small volume to modest lists of subscribers, or do not maintain a consistent mailing frequency (which is required for building consistently high deliverability for a single IP address).
What is a dedicated IP address?
Alternatively, GetResponse MAX provisions dedicated IP addresses. In this configuration, a client has exclusive use and responsibility for outbound mail sent from their own domains. This means you can fully control your sender reputation and monitor it directly. Crucially, your sending reputation will not be impacted by someone else’s email activity.
Switching to a dedicated IP address is a good idea for higher volume senders with more consistent frequency. With dedicated IPs, you can focus on building a strong reputation over time, and improve it, making sure your emails reach customers’ inboxes.
Shared vs. dedicated IP: what difference does it make?
By now, you can already see the difference is significant. But let’s focus on specific aspects that can be key for your business.
Dedicated IP address: individual responsibility
You’re the only sender using a dedicated IP address and are solely responsible for what you send from it. Your deliverability results are entirely up to you, and no one can affect your sender’s reputation, unlike with a shared IP pool environment.
If you are unsure if you can manage this responsibility single-handedly, why not find a knowledgeable partner that can support you in the process?
With GetResponse MAX, you will receive deliverability support and reputation monitoring by our ISP relationship management team. You’ll be assisted by your Account Manager and our in-house deliverability experts with more than 20 years of experience, providing you with best practices and practical knowledge so that you achieve and maintain top email deliverability.
Sending from a shared IP pool: shared responsibility
If you’re using a shared IP pool, deliverability becomes a responsibility shared by all the senders from the specific IP address. Someone else’s bad practices can negatively impact your deliverability. On the other hand, as a small volume sender, you benefit from an increased email volume
Shared IP addresses used by our GetResponse self-serve customers are continuously monitored by HYDRA, GetResponse’s in-house anti-abuse system. This lets us enforce best practices, monitor the statistics, and suspend the accounts of users abusing the system.
However rapid and accurate the system is at detecting bad activity (malicious intent or otherwise), damage to reputation can happen immediately (such as dynamic filtering and inclusion on blocklists).
Segmentation strategy for dedicated IP address
A dedicated IP strategy should not just to be considered for sending marketing emails, but also for different message streams. Several mailbox providers advocate segmenting marketing from transactional messages.
Segmenting can help you in numerous ways because ISPs choose whether to deliver your messages based on sender reputation associated with the domains/subdomains you use.
By separating out your marketing/promotional mailings from your transactional ones, you can ensure that they maintain independent sending reputations and deliverability.
For instance, marketing/promotional mail could possibly generate more complaints capable of interrupting more critical transactional communications (for example, account creation, password reset, or order confirmation).
By creating subdomains for your transactional emails and your marketing/promo emails, you protect your ability to keep sending, for example, transactional messages even if you have issues with your marketing/promotional message deliverability.
Segmenting also helps troubleshoot issues in the future should they occur, as you can isolate which campaigns or data sources may have contributed toward reputational damage.
Consistent brand identity
Dedicated IP: full control of your brand
A dedicated mailing domain and IP address let you take full control of your online identity to keep it consistent across all online campaigns.
When using a dedicated IP address, you can brand your sending domain. A custom domain will also boost your brand credibility.
All your emails will appear sent from your own servers. And that means your sender information will stand out in inboxes – with all tracking links carrying your brand name.
Shared IP address: no branded domain
When you share a sending channel, you cannot really brand the sending domain for yourself. So, you don’t have access to the benefits mentioned above.
Dedicated IP: send emails fast
When you send millions of messages, you need to make sure all of them are sent fast, and it won’t take you days. When you have a special offer or limited-time campaign, you simply cannot afford to deliver your messages too late.
You’re the only one sending from your dedicated IP address, so your messages will be sent immediately, and that’s one thing to cross off your worry list.
Shared IP: possible queues ahead
If you plan to send a high volume of messages from a shared IP, you need to consider sending queues. Your emails will be queued together with other senders’ messages. This means your speed to inboxes is limited, as opposed to sends from a dedicated infrastructure, which avoid the queue and get sent out much quicker.
Go further and evolve with GetResponse MAX
With a dedicated infrastructure, you need to go through an entire setup process, including setting up a sending domain, configuring authentications, etc.
When you use GetResponse MAX, you have your Onboarding and Account Managers to assist you, so you don’t have to do all of it by yourself. Your individual support will provide configuration assistance for email authentication methods, like DKIM, SPF or DMARC. They’ll assist you in setting up a new domain, and much, much more.
Your Account Manager will test your new dedicated server. This includes feature testing, sample sending, and technical verification to check everything works. They’ll also create feedback loops, which are special connections with major ISPs. This lets us know when someone marks an email as spam, so we can instantly remove them from your list. Not all mailbox providers offer feedback loops, but we create them for the ones who do.
With a dedicated IP, you need to go through the IP warmup process. This is because new IP addresses have no sending history and are cold, so they need to earn their reputations with receivers. It is critical that you demonstrate really good behavior by sending relevant and permission-based emails before they can trust your bulk mailings to be sent through to inbox folders.
Qualifying senders using GetResponse MAX may be eligible for Assisted IP Warmup. This will take away a lot of the burden of a conventional cold IP warmup approach.
With Assisted IP Warmup, we’ll set up a threshold for your dedicated IP to send, automatically adjusting as it progressively builds up your sending reputation. The rest of the messages that need sending would be automatically sent from our high-quality shared IP pool, with this level adjusting over time until your IP is all the way warmed and ready to deliver on its own.
With GetResponse MAX, you get expert support to help you with deliverability challenges, setup and IP warmup, and anything that can help you reach more inboxes with your email content.
With individual support, you receive a dedicated Account Manager who is your
consistent point of contact. They are essentially an extension of your team, immersed in your business, challenges, and goals, at the ready with the knowledge and tools you need to succeed.