What is warm-up and why you need it

 In Developer, Email Deliverability

Warm-up is the second most frequently used word by any Email Service Provider with their customers

In case you wondered, the first is Inbox delivery 😉

Every marketer and developer who has invested a fair amount of time in the email game knows that warming up domains and IPs is important for email delivery, but not many fully understand the process. It’s a good idea to understand about warm-up in depth so when you switch ESPs or start on a dedicated new IP, your email deliverability isn’t impacted.

Here’s everything you need to know about warm-up.

You Learned About it When You Were in School

As kids, we’ve all played sports and games in school. Do you remember how your coach made you run the length of the field and do some stretching for 10 minutes before actual play began?

Ah, the dreaded warm-up. We all hated doing it, eager to dive into the game but the coach always insisted on a proper warm-up.

It pumps oxygenated blood to your muscles, prepares them for the strenuous physical activity and prevents injuries.

IP warm-up is no different.

I’m a Veteran in Emails, I don’t need Warm-up… or do I?

I’ve often heard this, especially from genuine veterans in the industry. I’m sure we all have used the email channel significantly in our work life. Nonetheless, when shifting ESPs or starting on new IP, warm-up is mandatory if you do not want to be known as a spammer and risk becoming blacklisted.

You may be a good, legitimate sender but you have to prove yourself on a new IP. When ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail see your email coming from a new IP, it’s a change they don’t accept easily. You’ve been sending emails every day from one set of IPs. Suddenly when you make a switch to another ESP, you mustn’t shift the entire email volume on day 1. ISP’s suspicion filter gets alerted when you do that. It is highly recommended that you start slow with low volumes and consistently scale up. This will help build your reputation and win the trust of ISPs, make them understand that you are not a spammer with a purchased list.

It’s like hitting gym for the first time. You don’t pile on the weights on your very first day; your body can’t take it. You slowly ramp up to avoid injury and stay healthy.

Five Fundamentals for Warming up your Domain and IPs:

  1. Send emails daily and scale gradually

It is important to scale your emails gradually. At Pepipost we leverage our warm-up process for new customers or new IPs, sending a small chunk with a warm up process spread across several weeks. For example:

warmup plan

Depending on the success of your email program, you can move to sending more emails sooner.

  1. Send to the most active/engaged email addresses

Put your best foot forward when starting with new IPs. Start by sending emails to your most engaged users or the loyal ones who interact regularly on emails you send them. Most ISPs rate reputation on interaction with email. Your most engaged or active users will open and click your emails more; the chances of you reaching higher volumes sooner is promising.

  1. Send your best (as in best performing) content

“It is not who you are underneath, it’s what you write that defines you”

– a batman fan

Send your best and most engaging content. Consider emails like welcome emails, account notification emails and other transactional triggered emails that draw the highest open rates.

  1. Ensure suppression is real time

Unsubscribes, hard bounces and abuse complaints should be suppressed immediately. CAN SPAM Act 2003 says unsubscribes should be honored in 10 business days. Folks, its 2017 and today if we still take 10 days to suppress an unsubscribed user, then be ready to get a massive storm of abuse complaints.

  1. Monitor and act

Carefully monitor email spikes and performance like the stock market. Decide whether it is a good time to go to next level or continue with current email volume till performance is better. Ensure during this process that your email bounce rate is less than 1% and abuse complaints are close to 0.

While all the above fundamentally lays a good foundation for warm-up, one has to also ensure that they have authenticated their domain via SPF, TXT, and DKIM.

Remember warming up IPs is a long process and requires lot of monitoring. Like the Narrator says in Star Wars (The Clone Wars, Season 2) “The first step to correcting a mistake is Patience”. Ensure you have enough of it to continue until your email is stable. Good luck!

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