When is it OK to Use a Shared IP Address?

Posted by Tom Sather 

Can you imagine handing the keys to your email marketing program over to a complete stranger? Me neither! That’s why I recommend using a dedicated IP address whenever possible.

On a shared IP address, your sending reputation is only as strong as the weakest sender. As a result, your mailing reputation and deliverability on a shared IP address is at the mercy of other marketers.  

However, there are some very specific circumstances where using a shared IP address may actually work in your favor.

  1. Your mailing volume is under 50,000 messages per month, AND
  2. Your domain distribution consists mainly of the top four B2C domains (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and AOL), AND
  3. You mail to a long tail of smaller domains, OR
  4. Your email campaigns are infrequent (more than 30 days between each send), such as a seasonal mailer.

If this describes your email program, you may want to consider using a shared IP address. The benefit in this case is that you’re likely to have a less volatile complaint rate, and mailbox providers have an easier time assigning a reputation to higher volume mailers.

Keep in mind, however, that using a dedicated IP address has numerous additional advantages. In fact, it’s one of the most effective tactics to improve deliverability. In addition to giving you more control over your reputation, it allows you to sign up for IP-based feedback loops to directly receive reports on subscriber complaints and enroll in accreditation programs like Return Path’s Certification program.

Whether you choose to use a dedicated or shared IP address, make sure you understand the implications of your decision and how it impacts your business.

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About Tom Sather

Email data and deliverability expert Tom Sather has worked with top-tier brands to diagnose and solve inbox placement and sender reputation issues as a strategic consultant with Return Path. As the company’s senior director of research, Tom is a frequent speaker and writer on email marketing trends and technology. His most recent analysis of new inbox applications’ effects on consumer behavior was widely cited across leading business media outlets including the Financial Times, Ad Age, and Media Post.

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