Shared IP vs. Dedicated IP
When you set out to accomplish your goals do you go about it alone, or would you rather share the effort with others? If we apply this question to the email marketing world it boils down to something all email marketers should ask themselves at some point: should I go for a dedicated IP or use a shared solution.
First lets take the topic apart and look into what those two actually are:
- A shared solution is usually a platform that offers their service to multiple customers. As a result different senders are contacting their subscribers using the same IP. From the receivers point of view, it means that they see a lot of different senders and messages with different content coming from the same source.
- A dedicated solution, on the other hand, means that there is only one specific sender using this precise IP. With this approach the receiver can expect the same sender and same type of messages coming from this source.
We can all agree that both of those approaches have their own set of advantages, as well as different set of risks involved in it. The truth is that there is no simple answer to the question: “which approach is better”, as it all depends on what type of sender we are talking about. So here is the breakdown of pros and cons for both of them, and what type of senders can benefit from either.
Lets start with the bad side, to get it out of the way:
- The main risk of a shared approach is that you can’s really control what other senders are doing. I mean if you do actually own the IP and can control who has access to it then sure, you can do the vetting, routine checks, and other compliance related actions to make sure that all of the senders are behaving correctly (this is basically our Compliance Team bread and butter). Yet from time to time a bad apple can slip through, and this will hurt the reputation of the whole channel, then decreasing the deliverability for everyone.
- Another point to be made here is queues. When you are using the same IP this means you are using the same mailing channel so all messages also queue up together. This usually is not an issue on a regular basis, but occasionally it may happen that a couple of you will make a big broadcast on the same time. This means that some messages will have to wait in queue, delaying the delivery times for that sender. The chance of this happening is increasing with the size of the list the senders are using.
- There are also some (not a lot) limitations with branding options. If the sending channel is shared then you obviously can’t really brand the sending domain for yourself. This kind of forces the sending domain to be something neutral that works for all (branding it to yourself may not necessarily fly with the rest of the senders, obviously it’s a bit different story with ESPs ).
Now it’s time to look on the upside:
- Even if you yourself send once a week or once a month, with other senders on the channel the traffic does not stop, keeping the IP’s warm and reputation high (provided that we took care of the bad apples).
- The setup time is also drastically smaller. With shared channels, usually when you arrive, everything is already set (partly thanks to the neutral sending domain), the IP is warm so all you have to do is send.
- There is also the case of prices to be made here. The upkeep of a sending IP also has its expenses. Being able to share it with others can reduce them a lot for you.
Looking over the pros and cons list you can easily see that this solution is perfect for small businesses. Small lists, no regular sends, limited budget, if you think any of these apply to you then you should go for a shared solution.
On the flip side of the coin is a dedicated IP. So, 1 sender = 1 (or more) IPs. You may expect that the list of pros and cons will be somewhat of a reversed list I just did for shared, and you would be right. So not going into unnecessary details, the downside of owning a dedicated IP is:
- Price – you have to cover all the expenses of owning a sending IP yourself.
- Setup time – setting up a sending domain, configuring authentications, warm up process, and all other sort of technical preparations you need to go through before you can send. This all takes time and needs to be done if you want your messages to be delivered correctly.
- Reputation – it’s all on you, so you have to make sure that your list is of the best possible quality, your content is top notch, and your volume is high and consistent enough for receivers to recognize you as a mass sender so you won’t get caught by their anti-spam systems.
To be honest the last point is kind of dual. So we can start our list of pros with:
- Reputation – on the upside you may be sure you will not get any bad apples sending through the same IPs. All you have to worry about here are your own sends.
- Queue – only your sends are sent through your IPs, so you also do not have to worry that someone else will queue up the IP. All of your sends have priority by default
- Branding – you can configure everything to point to you directly, including all the domains required for a well configured sending channel.
Same as with shared, looking over pros and cons you should naturally also think about big sending brands. Companies that have lists going into hundreds of thousands or even millions and have the budget to afford the upkeep of IPs.
To sum it up
- If you are a small business that contacts their customers with an occasional promotion or newsletter, or just starting in the email marketing business with a small list of subscribers then a shared solution is the place for you.
- If you have a significant size list and contact your customers on a regular basis, putting a lot of emphasis on delivery times, want the whole delivery process to be personalized, and have the money to do so then go for dedicated platform.
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