A CTO’s Perspective: Why Dedicated IPs Are a Myth

In the years of email past, dedicated IPs were a requirement to ensure your emails would hit recipients’ inboxes, avoiding the spam folder. Fast forward more than a decade–in 2019, the state of email is much different!

We’ve sent a ton of email for our customers at Hive, and we’re frequently asked about sending campaigns from dedicated IPs (especially if clients have been using dedicated IPs with their previous email providers). The truth is, 99% of the time, giving our customers dedicated sending IPs would not help their deliverability. In fact, for nearly all senders, using a dedicated IP causes more long term deliverability problems than using a shared pool of IPs.

For nearly all senders, using a dedicated IP will cause more long term deliverability problems than using a shared pool of IPs.

Why do people try to use dedicated IPs when they shouldn't?

We usually see customers fall into two thought categories when it comes to wanting to use a dedicated IP:

“I'm using a shared IP sysem and my deliverability is bad.”

We see a lot of customers switching from other ESPs that think the issue stems from using a shared IP system. It usually boils down to other bad actors (i.e. bad email senders) using the same ESP's shared IPs. These customers are typically worried after seeing the shared IPs get flagged (i.e. the shared IPs appear on blacklists, or Gmail flags with “Messages coming from this sender in the past look like spam”).

This isn’t because of the shared IPs, but the ESP. This is a problem with how the ESP is managing their own shared IPs and customers (specifically their bad senders), and shouldn't be your problem. In this case, moving to a dedicated IP introduces more problems (i.e. daily volume requirements) that most senders can’t and shouldn’t have to overcome–more on that at the end of this post.

Solution: Work with an ESP who properly screens out bad customers and prevents all customers from sending bad emails to bad recipients. Essentially, you want an ESP that takes care of their shared IP pool.

“My deliverability has become way worse since I started sending on ESP XYZ.”

After months of sending consistent email with decent engagement, some customers see open rates drop to half of what they used to be, “all of a sudden” (i.e. over 2 weeks) and attribute this to using shared IPs. This is a problem with your list hygiene over time!

Think about it: when was the last time you sent to an unengaged recipient (i.e. someone who hasn’t opened any of the last ~5 emails you sent them)? If you aren’t churning your list and taking into account subscriber engagement in your email strategy, chances are you’re driving your long-term deliverability into the ground.

Solution: This is a problem you can solve, but your ESP shouldn’t have let you get here in the first place 🙁 (We built engagement segments into the core of our product so this doesn’t happen!).

Caveats: when and how should you use a dedicated IP?

Dedicated IPs are absolutely necessary for high volume senders, which is why they must be deployed and maintained properly. The following are guidelines you should follow if you’re looking to switch to a dedicated IP, to ensure your IP stays healthy. Don’t think you can hit these benchmarks? A dedicated IP probably isn’t for you right now.

Isolate the reputation of 3+ dedicated IPs

Switching to your own dedicated IP isn’t as simple as warming up just one - you’ll want to isolate the reputation of at least 3 dedicated IPs by recipient engagement: (1) unknown (2) engaged and (3) unengaged. Otherwise, deliverability to your engaged recipients will be impacted by new/unengaged recipients receiving mail over the same IP.

Send good emails daily (at least 15k)

In order to keep your IPs healthy, you really should be sending 15k to 20k messages per IP every day (i.e. 15K new, 15K engaged, 15K unengaged). Mailbox providers (i.e. Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo) need to see consistent daily volume for you to achieve the best deliverability.

Warm up your dedicated IPs properly

You must never exceed 1.5x-2x previous day’s volume per IP. This is most apparent when warming up a new IP or pool of IPs (i.e. going from zero email sends a day to any number of email sends). Going from sending a daily campaign targeted to 100K recipients, to all of a sudden sending to your entire list of 500K recipients will tank deliverability for all IPs.

Related: IP Warmup: Why and how you should do it

Churn your list daily

You need to churn/prune your list everyday, whether it’s done manually by someone on your marketing team or automatically through your ESP (Hive automatically implements this for you). Ideally, you want to move some subset of unengaged recipients out of your list of contacts that you routinely email, so that you’re constantly only emailing your engaged subscribers.

Set up monitoring

You’ll need to have automated monitoring in place to catch things like delays, throttling and bounces per IP, in order to react to things that will impact deliverability. On a shared IP pool (and with a smart ESP that cares), this is taken care of for you behind the scenes.

Wrap Up

For a majority of email senders, using shared IPs is the way to go, as long as the ESP you work with takes care of their shared IP pool and screens out bad senders. Switching to your own dedicated IP brings on a slew of additional tasks you’d need to manage, and introduces daily cadences and volume requirements most senders can’t keep up with. Deciding to switch to a dedicated IP when you don’t need to will open you up to more risk, tanking your deliverability in the process.

Curious to learn more about how we approach deliverability at Hive? Whether you want to know more about how we manage our shared IPs, or you're looking to switch to a dedicated IP and want help, shoot us a message at hello@hive.co!