ISPs look at new traffic from an IP address or domain as suspicious and, therefore, limit the amount of email they accept from it. Sudden increases in volume or unexpected changes in sending behavior are considered a red flag, as it is the same behavior a compromised host displays.
Often, an ISP directs email from a new IP address or domain into a spam folder until a determination of reputation is made. This behavior is expected and normal.
It is critical during ramp up to send emails to the best, freshest, and most engaged list segments to establish a good reputation for the new IP address.
Time frame for ramp up
- The process of ramping up to full production volume typically takes 4 - 6 weeks.
- The ramp up period can highlight any flaws in a campaign model and allow time for corrections before you send email at production rates.
- Ramp up should not be used for time-critical campaigns. Ramp up is more like a quality assurance cycle. Until reputation is established, the IP address should not be used to send production email.
- Even when ramp up is complete, large changes in sending volume, content, and behavior should be avoided. ISPs view these changes as evidence of foul play and react accordingly.
The goal of ramp up is to attain excellent delivery, creating a solid IP address and domain reputation for the future. Good preparation is critical to the success of the ramp-up process for a new IP address or domain.
Feedback loops and authentication are established by Acoustic Campaign before ramp up begins. Ensuring that authentication records are correct is crucial to deliverability.
A list of active email addresses should be segmented from the contact database, with the most important recipient domains represented. The addresses that you select help to establish the reputation of the IP address and domain.
- The addresses should have nothing negative associated with them.
- The addresses should be established, usually 60 days to 9 months old and with at least three clicks on campaigns.
- The addresses should be neither inactive nor potential spam traps.
- The contacts should be the most active and engaged subscribers who generate the positive metrics that ISPs like (such as opens and clicks) and generate few spam complaints.
Remove inactive contacts from the contact list.
Ramp up is not the time to reactivate old lists or import poor legacy data. Also, the creative chosen for use in ramp up should not be time-sensitive.
Ramp up and beyond
When you are ready to ramp up, increase the sending volume gradually and monitor the responses carefully.
Begin sending to recipients in segments by increasing the volume every 24 hours for five days. For example, start with 5,000, then increase to 10,000 and then to 20,000. Monitor for problems and make adjustments by working with the appropriate account representative to accomplish this goal.
Ramp-up with AOL
- Send 1,200 messages each day to high-quality AOL subscribers.
- Send to recent openers and opt-ins until the IP reputation improves to the point where we can request whitelisting.
Acoustic Campaign is notified when the IP address is eligible for whitelisting, at which point we submit the request on your behalf. AOL whitelisting is used only when high volumes of mail are involved. It does not help with inbox placement.
Ramp-up with Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and all other ISPs
- Send messages to no more than 5,000 recipients.
- Send to recent openers and opt-ins.
- Double the volume daily.
- Continue to increase in volume until production volume is reached.
These ISPs do not offer a whitelist.
Delivery metrics should be closely monitored:
- The goal for ramp up is to deliver 95 percent to 100 percent of these messages to the inbox.
- Examine hard and soft bounces carefully and resolve the issues that caused the bounces.
- Monitor feedback loops for spam complaints.
Remove complainants immediately and do not send anymore email to them.
- Watch all mailboxes that are associated with the email program for comments or complaints, even mailboxes that aren't official reply mailboxes.
When ramp up is complete
When the ramp-up process is complete, you should have a good IP address and domain reputation and be able to send at production volume. However, your reputation is not permanent. You must take care to maintain your reputation by continuing to carefully segment data, respecting subscriber choices, and avoiding sudden large changes to your email program.
For example, if you typically send 100,000 messages to Hotmail each day and you suddenly send 5 million messages, the mail might be throttled, sent to the spam folder, and blocked. This response persists even after you resume normal sending behavior.
- Sudden increases in volume or unexpected changes in sending behavior are considered a red flag, as it is the same behavior a compromised host displays.
Hotmail and Yahoo are sensitive to "bursty" sending behavior and react negatively.
- ISPs have no way to know whether the changes are legitimate or not and might throttle or spamfolder the inbound mail until a determination is made.