Q&A | Shared vs. Dedicated IPs for small lists

Q: Dear EmailKarma.net

I recently started helping out a start-up… They were doing all the email themselves but kept ending up in the spam folder. So they’ve asked me to help them get set up with an email provider that would have all the deliverability standards in place.

I was also hoping to get your take on the whole dedicated vs shared IP question? Does it make sense for them to start out on a shared IP and move to a dedicated IP when it makes sense?

Are there ways to check the reputation of an IP address (or pool of addresses) that we would share before we use it?

~ Withheld ~


I’d think a dedicated IP is the way to go – especially if you have good practices as they tend to perform better then shared IPs, for delivery metrics, opens, clicks and conversions.
The only concern I have is volume and long inactive periods between contacts, here is why;

Low and infrequent volumes sometime suffer on a dedicated IP because they never really generate a good mailing history do to the data sets available. Be aware of The possibility of collateral damage from these shared IPs. Working with a good ESP will help this as they tend to clean their network of bad actors to keep their network reputations high in order to achieve good delivery of their clients email.

As for moving, when there is an maintainable frequency of quality email that is being sent moving to a dedicated IP is recommended. Dedciated IPs allow you to develop your own reputation and effectively manage your own delivery fate.

Give them a scan with the free Habeas Reputation Check or SenderScore tools before you start to mail with them, some ESPs may be able to provide a similar reports if you ask for them. Ask specifically for the IPs you would be sending from to test this.

Do you have a question for EmailKarma? Email them to contact or leave a comment.

Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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