Knowledge Base

Starting to broadcast from a new IP means you are pretty much starting from scratch in terms of your sender reputation; your creative and domain on your old ESP would already have a reputation which the ISPs will pick up on however, due to the change of settings, domain and other factors, you need to start slowly and warm up your new IP.

A good way to think about it is like a credit score? If you have no credit score, you will not get credit from lenders. Sender reputation works in the same way. You have to have a reputation for your emails to be delivered effectively. Any reputation is better than no reputation, but a bad reputation can harm your deliverability in the same way as no reputation can.

Sender reputation is measured on a variety of factors including your:
Sending IP address
Domain
Volume of emails being sent
Frequency of emails being sent
Content
Engagement
And much more!

This short step by step guide aims to help you navigate through the process of warming up a new IP effectively...

1) Ensure the IP(s) you will be sending from have been configured correctly.
It is very important to ensure that your ESP has configured the authentication against your IP addresses correctly. Make sure that SPF, Sender-ID, DKIM and Domain-Keys in particular all configured correctly before you start sending. At Variant4 we take care of this process for you and provide a report to show your authentication testing results.
It is also extremely important to get all the IP's set up on feedback loops which we will also take care of for you (AOL, Yahoo!, BlueTie, Hotmail, JunkEmailFilter, OpenSRS, Roadrunner, Tucows, USA.net etc.). This will allow us to record complaints and mark these as unsubscribed accordingly for example (limiting damage to your reputation from complainers).
You can also apply for ISP whitelists once you start broadcasting and begin to build a reputation. Get in touch with us to discuss whitelisting for your IP's.

2) Use your best (most engaged) data and start with small volumes
Get your "warm" data ready and if possible, use only your best and most engaged addresses (less than 60 days old, at least 3 clicks in that time for example) and not brand new or old addresses. This will ensure that your engagement metrics are high and the ISPs can start to get a feel for reputation metrics and will let you carry on sending while you rebuild your reputation.
It is advisable to keep your volumes small to begin with and increase this as you go along adding more data into the pot in time; if you switched to a new IP and immediately tried to start sending a large amount of emails (millions from day one for example), the ISP's will get suspicious and most likely throttle your delivery speeds and inbox placement for your messages will plummet.
It's important that the ISPs see as much positive activity as possible in the early stages and this is by far the most efficient and successful way of rebuilding your sender reputation on a new IP. Then over the next month or so, the list on your old ESP should shrink as the engaged data is moved across to the new system followed by the remaining lists.

3) Plan your first broadcast from the new IP's
It may be prudent to send a non "marketing message" as the first broadcast from a new IP - something like a welcome message and use this to remind them to add the new from address to their address books / safe list.

4) Next Stage
Once the IP is warmed, start introducing the older, less active recipients and gradually build the volume over the required period. Don?t forget to move over your suppression lists of unsubscribes, bounces and complaints to ensure these are not broadcast on the new system and IP addresses.
On the whole, a warm up process will take a month or longer depending on the final volumes you are aiming to send and how your reputation builds in that time. We would advise monitoring all stats and bounce messages closely to ensure there are no issues along the way including complaint rates. As a guide, it is prudent to try and stay below the following percentages in order to avoid deliverability issues caused by a high complaint rate:
Yahoo! < 1%
Hotmail < 0.13%
AOL < 0.1%

Example IP Warm Up:
This example shows how to get to broadcasting around 500K emails per day per IP (Only possible with good sending practices and a firm warm up plan. Please note that these numbers are just examples and will vary depending on the reaction of the ISPs day to day).
Day 1-6
Start with very low volumes for the first few days (A few thousand emails per IP)
Day 7
Build up to sending around 30k per IP
Day 10
Up to 60K per IP Day 13
Up to 120K per IP
Day 16
Up to 240K per IP
Day 21
Up to 350K per IP
Day 30
As long as you have had good stats up until this point, you should now be able to send around 500K emails per day per IP
Top tips:
Hotmail will not allow you to send more than 4k per day with no IP reputation.
Over the course of about 4 weeks, you should be able to gradually increase your outbound traffic from about 1,000-2,000 emails/day up to 100,000-500,000 emails/day when the process is complete. With a very good reputation and engagement measurements, IP's can be warmed up to send larger volumes over time

Switching ESPs at some point is inevitable when dealing with email marketing - but it does throw up certain aspects that need to be managed especially diligently during the move to ensure as little disruption as possible. In this document, we offer advice on how to handle some of the most common issues encountered.

1. New from email address & domain
Usually your from email address will change as a new domain or subdomain will be used with the new ESP. This could impact your inbox placement, especially where subscribers have saved your previous from address in their address book, so you need to advise them in advance of the change to the new from email address; hopefully they will then whitelist your new address. However, be careful on this point - on the whole subscribers don?t care about the technical set up of the emails so don?t bore them with the details! Just let them know what you require and make it as easy as possible for them.

2. New IP(s)
Moving to a new IP and domain with your new provider means you will need to rebuild your sender reputation and warm up the new IP addresses. If you had a good reputation previously, this shouldn't be a problem.

3. Data migration from your old system to your new system.
Don?t forget that you will need to export any data (including suppression lists, unsubscribed users, hard bounced addresses and spam complaint addresses etc.) including email addresses, customer profiles and any other information you store, over to Variant4. In some cases, this may just be a case of setting up a new link between our system and your database, but in some cases where data is not fed back to your main database, data will need to be exported from your old ESP.

4. Post Click Tracking.
If you've got post click tracking set up so that your ESP currently reports on conversions from your website, you will need to update the tracking HTML your web pages to code provided by Variant4 to ensure this continues to work.

5. Ensure your subscribe forms point to the right place.
Perhaps you were using a form provided by your old ESP or the data collected was sent straight to a database hosted by them - either way, you need to ensure that you change/update your forms to ensure there is no break in collecting new email subscribers and feeding them into Variant4.

6. Ensure your unsubscribe process still works!
In the same way that you should check your subscription form, don?t forget to check your unsubscribe process and adjust it accordingly.

7. Reintegration of set up emails.
Be sure to copy across any email campaigns you might need going forward. For example, if you have double opt in, welcome emails, transactional emails, abandoned basket emails etc. don?t forget to move these all over and ensure that the technical set up has been done in the background of the new system to allow these to continue running seamlessly (apart from a change in from address, domain and IP address as referred to in points 1&2). If your images are hosted by your old ESP, when the system is turned off, these will no longer be available. Make sure you move over any images that you may need for future campaigns and consider point 9 below.

8. Don't forget to pull all stats and any other information you need from the old ESP before you leave.
There is nothing more annoying than switching to a new provider and realising after your access has been cut off that you don?t have any historical data from campaigns, previous mailings etc. in your new system. Ensure you run full reports from your old system so that you can always refer back to these previous results.

9. Continuity of the old system after switch over.
Once you've started broadcasting with us you need to consider what happens to your old emails. You should make sure that links in recent campaigns sent through your old ESP continue to work otherwise you could frustrate customers and lose sales. In particular there is a legal need to ensure the unsubscribe links work. It is therefore advisable to switch to Variant4 with your old system running to allow time for moving information over and to pick up any additional clicks from old campaigns.

Not Having Permission
Before you can send any email-marketing material, you must have permission from every single one of your recipients.
Permission means that people requested email marketing from you. Before investing your time and money in an email-marketing program, start getting permission from your customers. It's easier than you think, and it'll result in fewer spam complaints, better deliverability, decreased legal liability and--most importantly--better open and click results. Variant4 automatically asks for a permission reminder in your campaigns.

Being In a Rush
The biggest mistakes happen when marketers "have to get this campaign out yesterday!" They don't do the proper design and coding. They don't think through the content. They don't plan their subject lines (perhaps the most important factor in your open rate). They don't make sure their list is clean and totally opt-in. They ask the sales team, "Hey everyone, I'm blasting out an email. Gimme all your contact lists!" What happens next? Broken emails go out to lots of people who never opted in, forgot who you are, don't remember signing up for your emails or haven't heard from you in years. So what do they do? They click the "This is junk" button in their email program (studies show that anywhere from 10-30 percent of recipients have done this, even to emails they requested, thinking it was the only effective way to unsubscribe from a subscription). Then what happens? Alerts get sent to their ISPs, who in turn blacklist the sender for spamming. So slow down, take a breath, and make sure your list is in tip-top shape before you push it out the door.

Assuming People Actually Want To Hear From You
Did everyone on your list specifically give you permission to email them? If not, then you're just assuming they want to hear from you. Big mistake. They're going to report you for spamming. Even if you "spent lots of time putting together that list of prospects." Even if you "spent lots of money for this opt-in list." Even if the list is made up of "people in your industry who have certainly heard of you." If they didn't specifically ask for emails from you and you put them on your email-marketing list, then you're sending spam.
This concept seems to confuse a lot of people. They say, "But I get emails all the time from people I've never heard of, and I appreciate it." Know that it's different if someone sends one email directly to you, with a sales pitch. But when that same person crosses the line and "blasts" his sales pitch to an entire list of people, it quickly becomes spam. So don't send email campaigns to a list of mere prospects, and don't just compile all your sales-contact lists (some of them will just be possible prospects who've never even heard of you), and never, ever, ever purchase lists (even if they're "opt-in"). If you have a list of clients and customers that know you, but they haven't exactly opted-in for newsletters from you, then send them personal, individual email invitations asking them to join your marketing list.

Assuming People Know Who You Are
We've seen some marketers who created nice email-signup forms a long time ago, and they're just now getting around to sending emails. Even though they responsibly acquired every recipient's permission before sending, those recipients have most likely forgotten that they signed up. So when they get a full-blown email newsletter out of the blue, they report the sender for spamming. This happens more often than you think. A lot of email experts say that permission goes stale after only six months. If you're not regularly contacting your list, then assume the old emails have already forgotten you. You'll need to send them a "Remember me?" email. Purchasing Email Lists
By now, everyone should know better than to buy a "totally legitimate list of 30 million opt-in emails" via some sketchy piece of spam they got. That?s pretty obvious, but there are still some vendors out there selling "opt-in" lists the old-fashioned way. They collect email addresses and ask members if they'd like to "receive special offers from third parties." Then, they sell those email addresses to other people. It's not technically illegal--but it sure is stupid. The correct way to do it is to keep the list, and then send special offers on behalf of third parties. Be wary of any groups that just want to give you a big list of emails. They should be doing the delivery for you, so their recipients will recognize the sender--and so you won't get reported for spamming.

Thinking "Blast" Instead Of "Relationship"
We cringe when someone asks us if we can help them "blast" an email out to people. For one, the word "blast" should only be used in reference to missiles and tanks. Not permission marketing. Secondly, when people say "blast," it usually means they think email is just a way to shoot out a bunch of emails, whether people want to hear from them or not. Email is all about getting permission from customers, sending them stuff they want to read, and listening to their feedback.

Get the tone right.
Your target audience should determine the tone of voice used in your emails. For younger audiences, a more informal tone may be more relevant, whereas for the over 50's a slightly more formal communication may be more appropriate. However, don't forget that the online environment tends to be more informal anyway, so if in doubt, be informal but not over-familiar.

Make it obvious and repeat calls to action.
Make it very clear what you want the reader to do and repeat the call to action throughout the email. It is also advisable to make the call to action links direct the customer back to your website (a specific landing page is even better).

Keep it short.
Consumers get a lot of emails in their accounts every day and so won't waste time reading long emails. The content of your emails should be concise with key words/calls to action picked out as links or in bold/colour. You can also use bullet points to pick out key points/features clearly and simply.

Personalise your email.
Personalised content in communications makes the reader feel that the email has been written for them and makes the message more targeted. Information already held in the database or from previous email campaigns about the user can be utilised here to deliver a personalised message.

Make it topical.
Make your emails topical and pick up on relevant events/trends etc to bring your campaigns out of a vacuum and into the real world.

1. Personalisation.
Personalising emails is important because it helps build familiarity and trust between you and your readers. Including the recipient's name in the following places is a good idea; the subject line (immediately reassuring recipients the email isn't spam), the greeting and in questions and statements in the body of the email.

2. Make your emails easy to read.
Making emails easy to read and can be done by limiting email lines to around 40 characters wide (improves readability as the eye can scan down the email without moving from side to side) and splitting up blocks of text using a double return after every six to eight lines. Adding more white space to your copy gives it a neat, clean look that is very inviting, and breaks the text up into chunks that the eye can scan more easily. Images should be used to accentuate key issues but should always be outweighed by copy.

3. Call to Action?
What do you want your readers to do after they have read the email? It should be easy to understand and tell the reader exactly how they can take the action. This should be included at least twice in the creative and can be picked out easily as the recipient scans the email. Links should be made obvious in the creative, with blue and underlined text generally being seen as the symbol of a link - it?s also good practice to link all images by default. URLs included in the creative should take the recipient straight to the relevant page on the website? The recipient should not have to work to find what they are looking for.

4. Don't Use Spam Language, Do use persuasive words.
Using symbols such as $$$!!% and words such as Free, Money and Live, makes your emails look like spam, both to readers and to spam filters. Adding this type of language will also reduce the delivery rate.
Using a spam checker program will help to make sure you're not including any trigger words or symbols in your emails. Use persuasive words to gain attention, ask questions, sell the benefits, break down the cost and use excitement, fear, uncertainty or doubt to encourage click throughs.

5. A Good Offer.
Including a good offer that is appealing to the target recipient on your email, will encourage them to click through to your website and take advantage of the offer, or just to find out more information.
Most importantly, test, test and test again. Without testing your creatives and approaches, you will not know what works best for your target audience, brand, offer and product.

Almost every element of an email campaign can be put to the test, and every email that is sent is a testing opportunity. If you break a campaign down into its core components, you are dealing with 2 elements:

The List
The Email

By testing both of these elements, open, click and conversion rates can be analysed to figure out the best combination for your base and therefore increase ROI. Don?t forget to use our split testing functionality to make your life easier and to group creative and results together for easy comparison. You can even set it to run a certain percentage of your base automatically and then roll out the winning creative to the remaining volume after a set period of time!

Testing your list
If you have a larger list, there is the opportunity to segment it by factors such as age, gender, interests or previous purchased products. With segmentation, you have the ability to take just a section of the list that you believe the offer will be of most interest to and sent the mailing exclusively to them.
The only way to be sure that the right segmentations have been made is to test different segments of the list with the same offer and email. If all the other factors are the same, any difference in open, click and conversion rates can only be down to the segmentations made.

Testing your Email
The email itself can be broken down into the following elements which can all be tested:
From Address
Some may be suspicious about the source of the email, so customising the from address, especially with your company name, can build trust.

Subject Line
The subject line is your first chance to make a big impression on the recipient and arouse their interest enough for them to want to open your email. If they don?t open it, they cannot click through and will not convert to a sale. A good subject line can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a failure. Test several versions of a subject line to see what works best for your base and earns the highest open rate. Legally, a subject line must not be misleading.

Body Copy
The hard and fast rule for email body copy is that the offer and call to action must be clear and repeated several times throughout the email; at least once at the beginning, once in the middle and once more at the end. Try testing different calls to action and styles of writing in general; does your base respond better to chatty text or hard offers and facts? Golden Rule - Write copy for email to be scanned and not read; don?t have paragraphs that are too long and space the email appropriately.
Creative design Different creative designs should be tested to establish which works best for your base do they prefer more text and bullet points or a good mix of images as well? Once you have found a style that works, you should not stray too far away from this without good reason for doing so.

The Offer
Every email should include some kind of an offer; even if the email is being used for brand building, the offer is to visit your website and read more etc. Every audience is different; some people are driven by money-off or free offers whereas others respond better to loyalty points or other incentives. Test different offers to find out which works the best for your base.

Broadcast Time and Day of the week
In order to find out when your base responds the best to emails broadcast, find out by testing the same offer and creative etc at different times of the day and week.

Above-the-fold: The part of a web page that is visible without scrolling. It is generally a more desirable placement on a website because of its visibility. If you have a "join our mailing list" tag on your website, you should place it "above the fold" making it easy for visitors to opt-in.

Blacklist: A list that denotes IP addresses as spammer IP's, impeding email deliverability.

CPM (Cost per thousand): In email marketing, CPM commonly refers to the cost per 1000 names on a given rental list.

CTR (or Click-through rate): The percentage (the number of unique clicks divided by the number that were opened) of recipients that click on a given URL in your email.

Conversion rate: The number or percentage of recipients who respond to your call-to-action in a given email marketing campaign or promotion. This is the measure of your email campaign?s success. You may measure conversion in sales, phone calls, appointments etc.

Dedicated IP: In email marketing, it refers to an IP address from which only you send email.

Double Opt-In: The recommended method of building an email list, it requires subscribers to confirm their opt-in by clicking a link in a confirmation email or responding to the confirmation email in some other way.

Email blacklist: It is common for an ISP to a use a blacklist to determine which emails should be blocked (see "email blocking"). Blacklists contain lists of domains or IP addresses of known and suspected spammers. Unfortunately, these blacklists also contain many legitimate email service providers. Just a few spam complaints can land an email service provider or IP address on a blacklist despite the fact that the ratio of complaints to volume of email sent is extremely low.

Email blocking: Email blocking typically refers to blocking by ISPs or corporate servers. Email blocking occurs when the receiving email server (e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail etc) prevents an inbound email from reaching the inbox of the intended recipient. Most of the time the sender of the email receives a "bounce" message notifying the sender that their email has been blocked. ISPs actively block email coming from suspected spammers.

Email filters: "Filtering" is a technique used to block email based on the content in the "from:" line, "subject:" line, or body copy of an email. Filtering software searches for key words and other indicators that identify the email as potential spam.

Email whitelist: A whitelist is the opposite of a blacklist. Instead of listing IP addresses to block, a whitelist includes IP addresses that have been approved to deliver email despite blocking measures. It is common practice for ISPs to maintain both a blacklist and a whitelist. When email service providers, like Constant Contact, say they are "whitelisted" it means that their IP addresses are on a specific ISP?s whitelist and are confident that emails sent using their service will be delivered.

Hard bounce/Soft bounce: A hard bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a permanent reason like a non-existent address. A soft bounce is the failed delivery of an email due to a temporary issue, like a full mailbox or an unavailable server.

Honey Pot: A planted email address by organisations trying to combat spam that, when a spammer harvests and emails, identifies that sender as a spammer.

House list (or Retention list): A permission-based list that you built yourself. Use it to market, cross sell and up-sell, and to establish a relationship with customers over time.

HTML email: Sending an HTML email makes it possible to include unique fonts, graphics and background colours. HTML makes an email more interesting and when used properly can generate response higher than plain text.

IP Warmup: Sending a progressively increasing number of emails out of an IP addresses in order to build the IP's reputation.

List Segmentation: Selecting a target audience or group of individuals for whom your email message is relevant. A segmented list means a more targeted and relevant email campaign, thus a higher response rate and less unsubscribes and spam reports.

Open rate: The percentage of emails opened in any given email marketing campaign, or the percentage opened of the total number of emails sent.

Opt-in (or Subscribe): To opt-in or subscribe to an email list is to choose to receive email communications by supplying your email address to a particular company, website or individual thereby giving them permission to email you. The subscriber can oft en indicate areas of personal interest (e.g. mountain biking) and/or indicate what types of emails they wish to receive from the sender (e.g. newsletters).

Plain Text Email: An email sent without HTML. You should always give your recipients the option to read emails in either HTML or plain text for better readability.

Permission-based email: Email sent to recipients who have opted-in or subscribed to receive email communications from a particular company, website or individual. Permission is an absolute prerequisite for legitimate and profitable email marketing.

Personalisation: Addressing individual recipients by first name, last name or both dynamically in an email. Personalisation can also include a reference to previous purchases, or other content unique to each recipient. Avoid using personalisation in the subject line of your emails as this is a tactic widely used by spammers.

Privacy policy: A clear description of a website or company?s policy on the use of information collected from and about website visitors and what they do, and do not do, with the data. Your privacy policy builds trust especially among those who opt-in to receive email from you or those who register on your site. If subscribers, prospects and customers know their information is safe with you, they will likely share more information with you making your relationship that much more valuable.

Shared IP: A less costly option than a dedicated IP address, it is an IP address from which many people send emails.

Spam or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email): Email sent to someone who has not opted-in or given permission to the sender. Characteristically, spam is unwanted, unexpected email from a sender unknown to the recipient.

Targeting: Selecting a target audience or group of individuals likely to be interested in a certain product or service. Targeting is very important for an email marketer because targeted and relevant email campaign, yield a higher response and result in fewer unsubscribes.

URL (or Universal Resource Locator): A website, page or any other document address or location on the Internet that indicates the location of every file on every computer accessible through the Internet.

Viral Marketing: A type of marketing that is carried out voluntarily by a company?s customers. It is often referred to as word-of-mouth advertising. Email has made this type of marketing very prevalent. Tools such as "send this page, article or website to a friend" encourage people to refer or recommend your newsletter, company, product, service or specific offer to others.