Segmenting your IP addresses is the process of separating and sending email traffic from different IP addresses based on different factors related to your email program. The objective of IP segmentation is to organize your email in such a way as to maximize performance to help ensure your email reaches the inbox. It also allows you to more easily troubleshoot deliverability issues related to a specific brand or email stream when they occur. Many mailbox providers such as Gmail and Yahoo! recommend IP segmentation as part of their best practice guidelines.
How to get started with a basic IP segmentation strategy and plan
- Start with a simple plan: Many senders have success with separating marketing from transactional email first and then further segment later as needed based on performance. But, you need to decide what level of IP segmentation is necessary based on your specific business need and budget.
- Take inventory of your email program: Determine what types of email you send and to whom you send it.
- Check the volume and sending frequency of your email streams: Determine if some email streams have extreme high or low volumes and how often they are sent to subscribers.
- Determine what data is available: You need high quality data to measure performance and help you make informed decisions. How do you determine if your campaign is a success? (Inbox placement, reads, conversions, complaints, unsubscribes, revenue, average order value, webinar attendance, etc.)
- Determine what IP segmentation approach applies to your business need and budget:
- Brands: Placing each of your brands onto separate IP addresses is often a good idea. Each brand will have a separate sending reputation and it will be easier to track brand performance and troubleshoot deliverability issues should they arise.
- Email stream: Segmenting marketing and transactional email onto different IP addresses is popular with many senders and is suggested by many mailbox providers as a sending best practice. You also have the option of further segmenting based on specific email streams such as by welcome and onboarding email, newsletters, notifications, customer support and administrative.
- Subscriber type: People have different needs during the customer lifecycle. Customers are typically more invested in your email program than leads or prospects and usually engage with your email more frequently. If the lead and prospect segments are performing poorly, it may be dragging down the performance of your customer segment. Customers that don’t receive your email may miss important information about your product or service and may miss a chance to take advantage of important offers, leading to missed revenue.
- Also explore segmenting your email list by subscriber type as an alternative to IP segmentation. In some cases, list segmentation can help you achieve better results.
- Engagement level: Because engagement is an important component for reaching the inbox, sending to a large number of unengaged subscribers may be preventing email from reaching your engaged subscribers. Engagement may mean when they last read an email, clicked through to your website, logged into their account, attended a webinar or made a purchase. Look at the behavior of those customers that engage within 30/60/90/180/180+ days. You may find that after a certain time period, engagement decreases noticeably. Place less engaged subscribers on their own IP address. While deliverability on the less engaged subscriber IP address may be lower, your email on the other IP address has a greater chance of reaching your engaged subscribers and buyers.
- Location: If you send email around the world, you may need separate IP addresses to comply with local or regional data and privacy laws. It also may make sense to segment IP addresses by location depending on your company’s operations (such as separate marketing departments in the U.S. and Europe).
- Volume: If you send a large amount of bulk email every day, you may run into problems deploying your email on time. Additional IP addresses can help you manage your resources with the mailbox providers. Be careful not to have too many IP addresses with low volume as you may be perceived as a snowshoe spammer.
- Based on your selected approach, determine how many IP addresses are needed: More is not better. Try to keep the number of new IP addresses to a minimum as determined by your specific business need. Smaller businesses typically need fewer IP addresses than larger businesses.
- Determine if you already have enough IP addresses: You may not need new IP addresses. If you already send from multiple IP addresses, you may be able to shift email traffic to the different IP addresses you already own.
- Explore list segmentation for low volume and infrequently sent email streams: Sending low volumes of email infrequently from numerous IP addresses may lead mailbox providers to perceive you as a snowshoe spammer. You may be able to achieve good deliverability results simply by changing how you segment your email list.
- Determine your IP address and domain warmup period and launch date: New IP addresses and domains take 30 days on average to be warmed up properly and establish a sending reputation. Not warming up your IP address and domain can lead to long-term deliverability problems.
Execute your IP segmentation strategy and plan
- Ensure your segmentation program is working as planned: Ensure the right email is being sent from the right IP addresses based on your plan.
- Warm up your new IP addresses and domains: Follow your warm up plan.
- Track your progress: Keep track of performance to ensure the segmentation program is helping you achieve your business goals.