Changing Your IP Address to Combat Holiday Traffic?

It’s finally October and Black Friday is less than two months away. For many email marketers, this means it’s time to double check plans and ensure we don’t run into any deliverability issues when trying to send our subscribers leading up to Black Friday and beyond. Competition in the inbox for subscribers’ eyeballs and clicks will be stiff as marketers vying for consumer dollars will increase both the volume and frequency of their special offers. Last year, email volumes for Black Friday were 53% above average, and 2019 will likely be even higher. 

To cope with the increase of email traffic, and to ensure their emails aren’t throttled, blocked or sent to spam, many marketers add new IP addresses to handle the increased sending load, or to get a fresh start. But marketers, beware! Mailbox providers treat new IP addresses with no sending history almost the same as they would an IP address with a bad reputation. In a perfect world, it’s best to stay put, or at least add a new IP address many months in advance of the holidays. According to our 2019 State of Email Marketing report, senders that moved to new IP addresses or email service providers (ESPs) typically see lower performance when compared to those on established IP addresses.  

 But I know we don’t live in a perfect world. Many times, email marketers have no say in the matter of when they move to a new ESP or maybe adding a new IP address didn’t become necessary until just now. In order to establish a reputation on a new IP address and avoid any deliverability issues, you will have to do the following: 

  1. Determine your typical volume. Start small by sending batches of only a few thousand per day. After a week of sending small batches, ramp it up to a few thousand per hour the next day, and continue increasing sending volume over the coming days and weeks until you are able to send your typical volume of email messages. You can determine these thresholds by using tools like the Return Path Platform and Microsoft’s Smart Network Data Services (SNDS). 
  1. Verify that your MTA is also configured for each Mailbox Provider connection and throughput settings. Each mailbox provider has their own specific rules on how many connections a sender can have and how many messages you can deliver during a specified time period. If you fail to adhere to them, you risk your mail not being delivered or accepted. 
  1. Authenticate and whitelist your new IP address(es) and update all available feedback loops.Update your exisiting SPF records, if needed, to account for your new IP address(es). If you’re changing ESPs, verify they are also correctly signing your emails with DKIM. Additionally, updating existing feedback loop accounts will help keep complaints low. If you’re on any existing whitelists or in the Return Path Certification program, update your records with your new IP address. 
  1. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Continually monitor your mail server’s log files to see if ISPs are returning any policy related bounce messages. Also check for complaint rates, spam trap rates and any change to your reputation score. 

Whether or not you decide to add a new IP address, you may still meet with some resistance. When sending your messages, you may want to consider deploying during “off peak” hours. With the increase in volume at all mailbox providers this year, more senders will experience the dreaded “too busy, try again later” message. By sending between the hours of 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM, you can avoid some of the gridlock and experience a little less competition for the prime spot in the inbox. 

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