Dedicated IP addresses

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) consists of a unique string of numbers separated by periods and provides an identity (think a unique physical address or location) to a networked device, such as a computer. IP addresses allow devices to communicate with each other over the Internet.

At ActiveCampaign, most of our customers use a shared IP pool to send their emails. A shared IP pool consists of multiple senders transmitting their messages over the same sending path. The vast majority of ActiveCampaign users benefit from using our default shared IPs. These IPs have excellent, longstanding reputations with all major inbox providers and they are extremely warm. 

If you have a list of at least 100,000 contacts that you regularly send email to, you may benefit from using a dedicated IP address. However, it's important to note that simply using a dedicated IP will not improve your deliverability—sometimes it can help and sometimes it can hurt. 

In this article, we'll discuss:

Advantages and disadvantages of a shared IP address

Advantages of a shared IP address:

1) Our shared IPs are warm. 

Our shared IPs have already gone through a warm up process and are kept warm. Lower volume senders and small businesses use shared IPs to transmit bulk emails to their opted in contacts. IP addresses require a large amount of consistent volume being sent over them in order to keep them warm. When IPs are not transmitting messages for a certain amount of time, or if there are large volume fluctuations, mailbox providers will become suspicious of traffic being sent over these IPs. Our deliverability team manages volume by balancing and monitoring our shared IP pools. This means you don't have to worry about maintaining a consistent sending volume in order to keep the IP warm. For example, if you typically just send 2 messages per month, a shared IP would be best for your needs. A dedicated IP would not be recommended in this situation because you would not be able to provide sufficient traffic to keep it warm during these sending spikes and the IP address would go cold.

2) Easy to jump right in. 

Our IPs are already warm and are transmitting a sufficient volume email. This means that you can sign up for the platform and begin sending your campaigns as soon as you're ready, without having to worry about warming up your IP (some amount of warming is still recommended for domain reputation, but this is significantly less strict than IP warming).

Disadvantages of a shared IP address:

1) Shared IP reputation with other senders

While IP reputation is not as impactful as it once was (mailbox providers are much more focused on individual domain reputation now), you still may see fluctuations in delivery as you are sharing your IP with other senders. For example, it's always possible another ActiveCampaign user who shares your IP may make an honest mistake and send to the wrong list, causing a spike in complaints and even a block. ActiveCampaign has a sophisticated backend system which prevents this from happening as much as possible, but there is always a small risk of having some volatility with the shared IP reputation.

2) Diluted insight on your sending reputation. 

While tools like Google Postmaster and Microsoft SNDS can give you some great insight on your sending, these reports will include other senders on your IP, giving you muddy information on your performance.

Advantages and disadvantages of a dedicated IP address

Advantages of a dedicated IP address:

1) Complete control over your sending reputation

For a high volume sender who wants to remove all the possible variables, having complete control over your sending reputation is a good thing. It means that if you're sending engaging mail to active lists of opted in contacts, you will develop a very strong sender reputation and there is no one else sharing your IP who can influence this.

2) Messages send faster. 

With a dedicated IP you are not sharing queue space/throughput with any other senders. This means that if Gmail allows us to deliver 10,000 messages per minute on an IP, you get 100% of that limit—versus sharing it with someone else—and you will typically see quicker delivery times.

3) More scalable

If you plan on substantial growth with your opted in contacts or sending volume, we can add more IPs to your account to accommodate that growth in volume, approximately 1 IP for every 500k in messages sent per day. A typical high volume sender at ActiveCampaign may use 3-4 IPs in round robin style.

Disadvantages of a dedicated IP address:

1) The reputation is up to you. 

If you make a mistake with a dedicated IP,  the hurt will be much more drastic than with a shared IP—there aren't other senders on the same IP buoying up your sender reputation. If your open rates were slipping due to unengaged contacts or an aging list, this slippage will accelerate on a dedicated IP as you are the only sender transmitting messages.

2) The Dedicated IP has to be warmed up and you have to keep it warm. 

This takes some work. We have options to help you get it warm at the start, but it's equally as important for you to keep it warm—this means keeping the volume as consistent as possible (disregarding holiday spikes, etc). If you don't keep your IP address warm, this will lead to a soft reset of reputation by mail providers and will necessitate another warm up period. If you stop sending for a few weeks, the IP will go completely cold and your deliverability will really suffer. If you don't send often, a dedicated IP is not a good fit for you.

Requirements for a dedicated IP address

In order to acquire a dedicated IP address, you must have at least 100,000 active, opted in, engaged contacts that you will send to regularly. You can have a dedicated IP on any plan level. Setting up authentication on a dedicated IP is optional.

A Dedicated IP address is not for everyone. The reason we require 100,000 active, engaged contacts is because we see that senders on a dedicated IP with smaller lists typically have worse deliverability. Most ActiveCampaign users will have better deliverability on shared IPs, and by most we mean 99% of them.

However, if you are a high volume sender a dedicated IP might be the next step in maximizing your delivery speed and inboxing rates.

If you are interested in using a dedicated IP address, please submit the request to our support team. A dedicated IP costs  $750.

How to warm up your dedicated IP address

Dedicated IPs come to you cold. This means they are unused and have no history of sending. Sending a lot of messages from a new, cold IP is what spammers do and will land you in the spam folder. If you choose to move forward with a dedicated IP, you will need to warm it up to make sure you earn the trust of major inboxes like Gmail, showing them this IP is sending opt in mail.

There are two options to warm up the IP:

Option 1

You can go solo and warm it up yourself. The warmup plan will depend on the size of your list, but here is a boilerplate that you can use as a starting point:

  • Week 1: 25,000 messages per day total, no more than 5k to any specific domain like Gmail
  • Week 2: 50,000 messages per day
  • Week 3: 75,000 messages per day
  • Week 4: 100,000 messages per day
  • Week 5: full list

If you are really looking to get granular and maximize your deliverability, you can use a more involved methodology like the one below:

  • Day 1: 50 Messages
  • Day 2: 100 Messages
  • Day 3: 500 Messages
  • Day 4: 1000 Messages
  • Day 5: 5000 Messages
  • Day 6: 10000 Messages
  • Day 7: 25000 Messages
  • Day 8+: Increment daily through put by 25000 messages until your normal max throughput is hit (50000 > 75000 > 100000 > etc.)

Keep in mind, your warm up schedule will be dependent on your message throughput, sending cadence, and the amount of time you can warmup without too much disruption to your business. If you are moving from another platform, it may be prudent to split your list up between the two services in order to warm up your IP with minimal downtime in your Marketing efforts.

It is very important not to break these limits. If you send too many emails too quickly on your dedicated IP, it can have long term negative effects on the IP reputation that may take months to correct. During this warmup period it's vital that you are sending to your most engaged contacts, especially during week 1. This ensures your IP gets off on the right foot. 

Click here for more tips on how to warm up your sending.

Option 2

The second option is for us to warm the IP for you. In this process we start you on a shared IP (or if you are already an ActiveCampaign user you will just stay where you are for now) and we slowly pull off slices of your traffic and route it to the dedicated IP. You just send normally, but we slowly, cautiously warm up the IP for you in the background. If you are are already an ActiveCampaign user thinking about making the switch to a dedicated IP, this is a great option because it means you can keep sending normally without having to change any of your process to warmup the dedicated IP—we do the work for you.

We fill follow roughly the same plan outlined in Option 1, but you won't be responsible for creating segments/lists to do this. It just happens for you in the background while you send normally on a shared IP.

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