Certified Senders Benefit During an IP Address Migration

Posted by Henry Gutierrez on

Mailbox Providers prefer senders not change platforms and IP addresses unless they really need to. A migration can cause several headaches for a sender, and even for providers themselves. Realistically, senders change platforms for a variety of reasons (i.e. budget, growth, capabilities, performance, etc). It happens, and when it does, you should take every precaution to minimize the disruption and chaos it can bring. Return Path’s Certification, the industry’s most recognized and valued certified whitelist, can help during this migration process by gaining preferential inbox placement and improved reputation at global providers.

Why is migrating IP addresses such a pain?
Unfortunately, moving to a different IP address includes a couple of different hurdles that you might not think about. Throttling is a common practice mailbox providers will implement to “feel you out” and determine the quality of your program while you are warming up those IP addresses. More sensitive thresholds are also placed on reputational metrics, increasing the likelihood of spam placement and blocks. That sensitivity can also lead to mail inaccurately being classified as malicious mail, like a phishing message.

Though it seems like mailbox providers are out to get you, their filters are mostly in place to prevent harmful messages from reaching their customers’ inboxes. For example, a common practice that spammers use is to bounce around new IP addresses to avoid dealing with a damaged reputation; this is also called “snowshoeing.” These practices have pushed mailbox providers to implement stricter thresholds and rules for new senders. If you’re a good sender, this is frustrating. Even if you take every precaution, it’s still possible to bump into issues with your email program during the migration.

How Certification helps
Before trusting a new person, babysitter, or even a restaurant, you typically ask people you trust for a recommendation. This is where Return Path Certification can play a key role; if your IP is listed on our Certification whitelist, it shows that your mailstream was authenticated and improves your reputation at mailbox providers. Some of the key benefits of the program are:

  • Preferential treatment at global providers like Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, Orange, and Mail.ru.
  • Favorable treatment with filters like Cloudmark, SpamAssassin, and SpamCop.
  • Data feeds directly from mailbox providers showing volume, inbox delivery, and key reputational metrics.

Below you’ll find an example of a client that was not Certified prior to their migration. During the process, they were excellent at following our recommendations averaging close to 100 percent inbox across the board from Day 1… except at one provider. The graph below shows inbox placement for one of the major providers that just couldn’t take that step to fully trust the “new” sender. As you can see, any campaigns sent out were receiving heavy spam placement, despite only sending small quantities of mail to high-quality subscribers. The next recommendation was for the client to go through the Certification application process, which meant a bit more of a delay. But as you can see, once the IP address became certified, 100 percent inbox placement was achieved and they were able to increase volume a hell of a lot quicker.

I don’t recommend waiting for a migration to go bad, as the delay to join the program may not be one you want to experience. Planning ahead is key.

Next Steps
The Certification program does have an application process that you must go through when signing an agreement. The confirmation of good sending practices enables Return Path to maintain the trust and relationships with our valued network of providers. Once you’ve become a Return Path certified client on your current infrastructure, those benefits can eventually be awarded to your new platform. Most of our clients subscribe to Certification to boost their deliverability and revenue when there is no plan of migrating, but doing it in preparation for such a critical process makes complete sense. More than that, it’s when you need it most.

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About Henry Gutierrez

Henry is an Email Strategist for Return Path's Professional Service team. His current role includes executing client-specific projects to maximize ROI and deliverability. Overall, he has worked in the email industry for almost 12 years, with experience both as an analyst for an ESP and on AOL's postmaster team.

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