Trying to determine whether you should be on either a shared or a dedicated IP? Before you make any decisions, let’s start with the basics. All email is delivered over an IP address. It’s basically the pony express for email, but a lot faster!
Internet Service Providers, such as Gmail and Yahoo!, use the IP address to determine whether or not to deliver your email to the inbox based on your sending reputation. If you have a good reputation, your email is more likely to get delivered. If not, then you might not have much luck getting inboxed or delivered at all.
Shared IP address
Have you ever had a virtual mailing address where you could receive mail at a shared location or perhaps you are reading this in your shared office space? This is pretty much how a shared IP works. You are co-locating your mail streams with several other senders.
Here are some things to consider with a shared IP:
No reputation control
With a shared IP, you are at the mercy of your sending cohorts. If they are following email best practices, then you can reap the benefits of an IP address with a high reputation, but if not, there is little you can do to ensure high delivery rates.
In either case, it’s important for your SMTP provider to regularly monitor sender activity to ensure that everyone is adhering to the rules of the road and maximizing the opportunity for their customers.
Low volume sender
If you send less than 100k emails per year, then it might not be worth moving to a dedicated IP especially if your ESP makes it cost prohibitive. ISPs like to see consistent patterns in sending so if you don’t have high activity levels you could end up with no reputation resulting in low email delivery rates.
Dedicated IP addresses
Very much like your home address, you will be the only domain sending email over a dedicated IP address. The benefits of a dedicated IP are as follows:
Full reputation control
By being the only domain sending over an IP, you can control and monitor your sending reputation directly. In this way, you don’t have to worry about being affected by another sender’s activity. Instead, you can focus on building a healthy email program and utilize email delivery tools to optimize your email program.
High volume sender
If you send over 100k emails per year, it might benefit you to switch to a dedicated IP address. At this point, you will establish a consistent sending pattern and can build a solid reputation. You can also take advantage of other services like whitelisting for improved email deliverability.
Shared vs. Dedicated IP addresses
Most senders start out on a shared IP and then move to a dedicated IP once their email program grows and matures. Depending on your provider, getting a dedicated IP can be pricey, but SendGrid focuses on affordability by giving you a dedicated IP starting at our Pro 100K and charging just $30 per month for each dedicated IP thereafter.
Even if you send less email than noted above, use consistency as the driver in your decision to go the shared or dedicated route. In the end, you want maximum control. Sharing is great for some things such as likes and pins, but not so much for your reputation.
To learn more about deliverability tips, check out our interactive Email Deliverability Guide.