Dedicated vs. Shared IPsMaintaining consistent email delivery can be a very tricky thing. Sometimes, even if you are following best practices such as proper email collection, removing bounces and generally being a \”good\” sender, your delivery can degrade over time. Once this happens, it\’s time to reassess what is going on and look at the potential pitfalls you may have triggered. One of the most obvious symptoms can be whether or not you are on a shared IP or a dedicated IP.

Let\’s quickly talk about the basic differences of each:

Shared IP – A shared IP means that your mailings are being sent off an IP that includes other users/companies. Most ESPs will start your account on a shared IP. They sometimes use this as a probationary step because they need to see what you are like as a sender before determining where best to place you in a tiered structure.

Typically, the ESP will have different tiers of shared IPs that they will place clients on after being ranked in terms of how many complaints, unknown user bounces (bad addresses) and other similar metrics. For example, a client with generally good practices and low complaint levels might be placed on an A or Gold tier whereas someone with a bit poorer practices (like not opting in subscribers) and higher complaint levels might be placed on a C or Bronze tier.

Dedicated IP – As you\’ve probably guessed by now, a dedicated IP means that you are being sent off an IP that is exclusively yours. Some ESPs will include a dedicated IP with your email package and others will charge you for this on a monthly basis.

Many ESPs will not allow a client to start sending a full campaign off a dedicated IP right away because the IP has to be \”warmed up\”, meaning a reputation needs to be established on it. This normally leads to a campaign being broken up into chunks so that the IP can be monitored and gradually validated.

So which is preferable as a sender? Each option has its pros and cons. Let\’s discuss each in more detail:

Shared IP Pros:

  • You can send a full campaign immediately.
  • Minimum volume for IP reputation already established.
  • Complaint/abuse blocks can be mitigated if other clients on the IP have good sending practices but\”¦

Shared IP Cons:

  • Other clients\’ poor practices may hurt your delivery.
  • Delivery issues are harder to track down due to multiple clients on the same IP.

Dedicated IP Pros:

  • No other clients on the IP.
  • You can establish branding
  • If you maintain best practices, your delivery will be consistent \”¦

Dedicated IP Cons:

  • But if you don\’t, your delivery may suffer.
  • Volume has to be substantial in order to establish a reputation.
  • You are exposed when it comes to any issues with your email marketing practices because there is no one else on the IP.

In summary, determining whether or not you should have a shared vs. dedicated IP comes down to a variety of factors. If you are currently using an ESP to send your emails, contact them to discuss your options.

Feel free to share your comments below and let us know which option you prefer or have experienced the best results.

Steve Chipman
Analog thoughts in a digital world