When dedicated IPs aren't the best path

I'm not going to re-hash the whole discussion around should email senders be on dedicated IP or shared IPs, what's best for deliverability, and all that jazz -- it's been done before (and in wonderful detail, by my Kickbox colleague Jennifer Nespola Lantz).

But I did want to call out -- in its own post -- something that merits reinforcing:

If you don't send big volume, you probably shouldn't be on dedicated sending IP addresses.

What constitutes big volume? Ask ten different people and you'll get five different answers. The most common guidance (and my guidance) is that you should be sending at least 100,000 email messages a month to keep a dedicated IP address "alive." More is better, but if you don't send anywhere near 100,000 messages per month, you're likely to experience spam folder delivery at the big three (Microsoft, Yahoo and Gmail--ESPECIALLY Microsoft) just because you're not sending enough volume to allow them to develop a satisfactory reputation fingerprint of your mail. It is very much a "you're guilty until proven innocent" type of scenario, unfortunately, and at low volume, you don't generate enough proof of innocence.

Guidance on Dedicated IP volume minimums varies greatly. Here's guidance for a few different email sending platforms:

Who's right? Who's wrong? ISPs don't publish guides to this sort of thing; it's one of those "black box" things that deliverability people have to try to reverse engineer through experience. I don't know that anyone's necessarily wrong (okay, I do question that Amazon guidance), and I do know that in some cases you can find deliverability success at lower volumes sending from a dedicated IP, if your content is really compelling and you know what you're doing. I send a lot of my own mail from my own dedicated IP address just fine, at much lower volume. But I'm sending random email newsletters talking about email and music and other stuff, not really trying to sell people things, and my engagement rates are really, really high. And even I still have Microsoft issues.

TL;DR? If you send less than 100,000 email messages per month, you probably should be shared IP addresses. There are exceptions to this, but if you don't know what you're doing, don't do it.

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