DELIVTERMS: Domain Warming

Today: Let's talk about domain warming.

You might have heard about IP warming. I've talked about it before (and my Kickbox colleague Jennifer Nespola Lantz has covered the topic in great detail). TL;DR? IP warming is, when you're newly sending from a particular dedicated IP address, you build up your sending reputation, to maximize your chances of solid inbox placement, by slowly building up your email send volume over the first thirty days or so of email sending. In other words, you don't just show up and start blasting millions of emails a day. You limit your volume until internet service providers (ISPs) and mailbox providers (MBPs) know who you are.

Domain warming is a very similar concept. When you introduce a new domain name, either because you're launching anew, or because you're rebranding, domain warming means starting out with low volume sends referencing that domain, and building up volume over the first few weeks of sending. The goal is to avoid shocking the ISPs with a volume spike that lands your messages in the spam folder, because your domain name has no reputational history yet.

Before you start your domain warming, make sure the domain itself isn't too new, and make sure that you've fully implemented DKIM and SPF authentication. (Email authentication won't guarantee inbox placement; but it's tougher to get inbox placement without them.)

Then, just like with IP warming, map out a plan. How low can you go? If your end goal is to send to 30,000 subscribers at a time, start out by limiting mail volume so you're sending to only between 1,000 to 3,000 subscribers per day. Break up your first sends across three, five, or seven days, if possible. (Or only email partial volumes the first few weeks.) You don't have to be as exact as with IP warming, but your goal here is to spread things out, and build volume up over time.

At the end of the day, or rather, at the end of this process, you'll want to have thirty days of good, clean sending under your belt. Most mailbox providers are looking at what amounts to a rolling thirty day window of stats, and, assuming you're sending wanted mail, any glitches you might see during warming are likely to have worked themselves out by the end of that thirty day period.

As I mentioned, wanted mail is key. This won't work well with purchased lists or cold leads; as a practical matter, high engagement is what gets you inbox placement in the long term, and a lack of direct permission means a lack of interest. 

And if you fumble -- don't worry -- just correct course and get yourself into (or back into) the warming groove, and things will work out (as they did for my friends at Boona).

And finally, don't forget to check out the DELIVTERMS section here on Spam Resource, where we define the common terms used in email technology and deliverability.

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