Deliverability Dilemmas Solved: How to Prepare for an IP Address Switch
Q: Our company is moving to a new hosting provider, and also has to switch to a new IP address. What does it need to do to prepare?
A: Moving to a new IP address isn’t easy. Because spammers and other bad actors regularly switch to new IPs to try and get around internet service provider blocks, ISPs treat IP addresses with no sending volume as badly, if not worse, than IP addresses with a prior bad sending history. Don’t get caught wondering what went wrong when your deliverability tanks after switching to a new IP. Here’s a checklist of five things to look out for when moving to a new IP address.
1. Check the reputation of your new IP address. The very first thing you absolutely must do when you get your new IP address is make sure that it wasn’t taken around the block in the past 30 days. Hosting providers and email service providers have a finite number of IP addresses, and they will reuse them. Check your IP address at SenderScore.org, TrustedSource.org and SenderBase.org to see if there’s been any sending traffic in the past 30 days. If you find that there has been, ask your provider for a new IP. There’s no use in trying to clean up someone else’s mess.
2. Update your authentication records. Add your new IP address to your sender policy framework and sender ID framework records. If you’re not changing your domains, DomainKeys and DomainKeys identified mail (DKIM) won’t be affected. There will probably be a time when you’ll need to mail from both your old IP and your new IP, so don’t remove your old IP from your authentication records just yet.
3. Update your feedback loop and whitelist applications. Before you begin mailing from your new IP address, update all IP-based feedback loops and whitelists with your new IP. DKIM and domain-based feedback loops like Yahoo’s should be fine unless you’re also changing your domain during this move.
4. Devise your mailing strategy and start sending. Keep in mind that major webmail providers like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and AOL will probably block you after sending a small volume of email. Don’t panic. Prepare to only send a few thousand messages per ISP for the first day, then send the rest from your old IP.
Next, segment your subscribers by recency and activity. Send messages to approximately 10,000 of your most recently responsive and active subscribers per ISP. The trick here is to try to minimize your complaint rates and show a very engaged subscriber base to keep the process as short as possible. Then analyze and correct any deliverability issues you glean from your monitoring tools and bounce logs. If there are no issues (or after you’ve resolved them), double your volume for the next send and repeat. You should be able to send your full volume in as little as two weeks as long as things like your complaint rate are at acceptable levels.
5. Cross the finish line. Continue monitoring your reputation at SenderScore.org, TrustedSource.org and SenderBase.org during this process as well. Once your reputation looks good and you're sending full volume, remove the old IPs from your authentication records and feedback loops — and breathe a sigh of relief.