One of the most important things for email deliverability is a top-notch IP reputation. And whether you have a good or a poor IP reputation depends on your mailing activity, including your contact list, how engaged it is, and email deliverability, to name a few.
Deliverability and IP reputation are inextricable - so questions around which kind of IP you should use become very important. You can choose between two IP setups: a dedicated IP or a shared IP address.
In this article, I will discuss the differences between dedicated and shared IPs, the benefits of using one over the other, and how you can choose the best option for you and your company.
What is an IP Address?
IP addresses are akin to street addresses in real life. They’re basically a string of numbers that serve to identify a particular device on a network. Computers can also have IP addresses, as can websites and email addresses.
Every time you send an email, ISPs (or internet service providers) check the IP address to ensure you are who you present yourself to be and that you’re not sending spam emails.
And so, IP reputation is born due to these constant checks.
What is the Difference Between Shared and Dedicated IP Addresses?
The main difference between a shared IP and a dedicated IP address is how many email addresses are behind those IP addresses.
A shared IP address means that you share the IP address of your email with other users (other senders). Senders using the same ESP will usually have the same IP that the ESP provides. This happens more often if you are in a similar business as ESP’s tend to group similar businesses onto a single IP address.
A dedicated IP address, on the other hand, is the opposite of this - this IP address belongs only to your email address, meaning it’s yours exclusively. With this, you gain more control of your sender reputation and IP reputation.
Now, I know what you’re thinking - a dedicated IP address is a pretty obvious choice, right? Of course, it does have many advantages, but also some drawbacks, so let’s explore this in the following sections.
Benefits of Using a Dedicated IP vs. a Shared IP
First, let’s look at the benefits of using a dedicated IP address.
You Don’t Need to Worry About the Activity of Other Users
That’s right - if you’re using a dedicated IP address, you won’t need to share it with a host of other users whose email-sending practices you don’t know much about.
The opportunity to send emails only from one IP address, which you fully control, can positively affect your email deliverability and IP reputation as opposed to a shared IP which doesn’t give you much control over your overall email sender reputation.
You Have a Higher Chance of Your IP Address Being Safelisted
If your activity is reliable, your email lists clean, and you’ve shown you’re not doing anything shady with the emails, your IP address has a good chance of being safelisted. This is done by organizations for internet security and is especially good for business-to-business companies that have a practice of sending promotional and transactional emails to customers and employees.
Dedicated IP Addresses Work Great for High Volume Senders
Dedicated IPs are definitely recommended for businesses that have a send volume of about 100,000 emails (or more) per month.
That’s because if you’re using a shared IP address, a sudden increase in email volume might raise some red flags with internet providers. After all, that’s one of the most characteristic behaviors of spammers - sending a huge amount of emails out of the blue.
So, consistency here is the key if you want to build a good IP reputation.
A consistently high email volume paired with a dedicated IP will give you better control over your IP reputation.
A Word of Caution
If your send volume fluctuates every month, then a dedicated IP might not be such a good idea. It can actually hurt your reputation because you won’t be able to maintain consistent high-volume traffic which is necessary for building a good IP reputation. In the case of fluctuations, a shared IP can step in and offer better consistency whenever you may need it.
I have to mention that there are some situations where you can have a dedicated IP address and still retain a good IP reputation with a low email volume. However, this is quite rare and requires special circumstances. This usually happens when users need to use a dedicated IP to whitelist emails within the organization or to send emails to organizations with high security.
Things to Pay Attention to When Using a Dedicated IP Address
Let’s see what else you need to know before opting for a dedicated IP for email.
IP Warming is a Must
That’s right - you’ll have to warm up the dedicated IP through a steady increase of email volume over time (usually according to a schedule that you determine from the beginning). This process will help you build your reputation with the ISPs, so they can see you as a legitimate and trustworthy sender.
ISPs are always extra careful with new email addresses, which is why you can’t just use your new address to send high-volume emails without experiencing some consequences. This is why you should start slow and steady and build your IP reputation brick by brick by warming up your IP.
And with a dedicated email address, you’ll have to do this on your own.
Usually, you start with a couple of hundred emails per day, and slowly increase this number over a couple of weeks or months.
Dedicated IPs are More Expensive and Ask for High Maintenance
Shared IPs are usually cheaper than dedicated ones. The math is simple - lots of businesses pay for shared IPs, so it’s expected that the costs will be lower. Also, the provider doesn’t do maintenance for one IP but a whole host of them.
And if you have a dedicated IP, you’re the only one paying for it. The tech support team will also need to provide more dedicated support, which is why it’s more expensive.
And when it comes to personal maintenance of the IP address - you’re responsible for that as well, which might take you more time and energy if you’re not ready for it.
Dedicated IPs are Harder on You Should You Make a Mistake
Dedicated IP addresses are harsher on you if you do something wrong. Even small mistakes, like sharing bad links or sending messages to a lot of addresses that turn out to be invalid, can make an instant dent in your reputation. If you’re not careful, this may even send you into the spam folder, or even put you onto a sender’s blocklist.
If you’re using a shared IP, the consequences of these kinds of mistakes are minimized since there are also plenty of regular, good emails sent from the other senders in your shared IP pool. This will help maintain high email deliverability and provide you with enough time to fix any mistakes that you’ve unintentionally made as a sender.
As you can see, it’s not as simple as dedicated IPs are better than shared ones. It all depends on your budget, your email volume as a sender, as well the time and energy you’re willing to put into maintaining your own dedicated IP. But after reading this article, we’re certain you’ll make the right choice for you and your business.