Permissions & Deliverability

Dedicated IP for Email Marketing: Is it Time to Switch from a Shared IP?

Inka WibowoRobert Brandl

By Inka & Robert

dedicated ip for email marketing

Email marketing is a powerful tool for reaching your audience, but navigating the intricacies of deliverability can be a challenge. We’ve seen from our own bi-annual deliverability tests that deliverability rates between different email service providers (ESPs) like Mailchimp and Hubspot can vary greatly, indicating that some ESPs have more favorable IP reputations than others.

That might lead you to wonder: do I need a dedicated IP address for email marketing? It’s a question we often get asked by our readers – but as you can expect, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

So, to help answer that question for your business, let's break it down in simple terms, addressing what a dedicated IP is, its benefits, potential costs, and when (or when not) to take the dedicated IP plunge.

What is a dedicated IP (and how does it differ from a shared IP)?

Simply put, a dedicated IP address for email marketing means having your unique IP address for sending out emails. You can imagine it as an exclusive, fast-tracked lane on the information highway, separate from others.

In contrast, a shared IP is like carpooling on that information highway. Multiple senders use the same lane, and the speed of that lane (and, ultimately, whether they arrive at their intended destination) is influenced by everyone driving on it.

It’s important to note that most Email Service Providers (ESPs) usually use shared IP addresses as a default for their users. This is because:

  • Shared IP addresses are more cost-effective and scalable for ESPs to manage. They can allocate a pool of IP addresses to multiple users, spreading the infrastructure and maintenance costs across a larger user base. These cost benefits get passed onto their customers, who are usually small to medium-sized businesses with moderate email volumes
  • For users who are new to email marketing, shared IPs offer a straightforward onboarding process, as they can start sending emails without the complexities associated with dedicated IPs (which we’ll get into in a moment)
  • ESPs can collectively monitor and maintain the reputation of a shared IP pool, making it easier to ensure good deliverability for the majority of their users
  • Shared IPs can help mitigate the risk of individual senders negatively impacting the reputation of an IP address. If a normally reputable user engages in poor email practices one time,  the impact is distributed across all users on the shared IP, reducing the likelihood of significant reputation damage

But, of course, there are a few potential drawbacks to using a shared IP for email marketing:

  • The reputation of a shared IP is influenced by the collective behavior of all users sharing that IP. If some users continually engage in poor email practices, have a high rate of spam complaints, or get the IP blacklisted, it can negatively impact the reputation for all users. As a result, your emails might be more likely to be flagged as spam or placed in recipients' junk folders, even if your own sending practices are legitimate.
  • Shared IPs often have predefined sending limits set by the ESP to maintain a healthy sending environment for all users. If your business sends a high volume of emails, a shared IP might not be able to support this.
  • The performance of a shared IP can be inconsistent, especially if there are users with varying email sending patterns and volumes. Your emails might experience fluctuations in deliverability, making it harder to predict and optimize campaign performance.
  • Shared IPs may have limitations on customization options for authentication protocols (DKIM, SPF). You might have less control over configuring authentication settings according to your specific branding or security requirements. As providers like Gmail and Yahoo now have much stricter sending requirements, having complete control over your email authentication policies is more important than ever.
Tip: Not sure if your emails are properly authenticated? Learn how to run an email authentication check in our 4-step tutorial.

While shared IPs are the default, ESPs often provide the option for users to upgrade to a dedicated IP if they have specific needs, such as higher email volumes, customization requirements, or a desire for more control over their sender reputation. In the next section, we take a closer look at some of the reasons you might need to switch from a shared to a dedicated IP.

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When Would Your Business Need a Dedicated IP?

1. If you send high volumes of emails frequently

If your business sends a large number of emails regularly, a dedicated IP can be a huge advantage. It means you can consistently send a high volume of emails without being constrained by the limitations or fluctuations that may come with a shared environment.

Going back to the highway analogy, a dedicated IP address is like having your own express lane during rush hour. Because you don’t have to share it with others, it can greatly boost the chances of your emails landing where they should – if you manage it right.

2. If you need customized authentication protocols

Having a dedicated IP allows you to customize your email setup, giving you control over your email authentication protocols and configuration. This helps you optimize your email sending strategy based on your business requirements (e.g. setting up domain-specific rate limits, allowlisting by IP, or adjusting sending parameters to align with promotions, product launches, or other marketing initiatives).

3. If you want strict control over sender reputation

Your sender reputation is your email credibility score – that is, how much ISPs like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail are likely to trust you. The better your sender reputation, the more likely ISPs are to allow your emails to be delivered to their users’ mailboxes.

For businesses meticulous about their reputation, a dedicated IP provides full control. With a dedicated IP, you have your own score that's not influenced by others.

When NOT to Get a Dedicated IP for Email Marketing

Of course, a dedicated IP isn’t for everyone. In some cases, sticking to a shared IP for your email marketing makes more sense. We outline them below.

1. If you have low email volumes and infrequent campaigns

If your business sends emails sporadically, a dedicated IP might be overkill. In fact, if you’re sending less than 100,000 emails a month, a dedicated IP could be downright harmful, as your IP may appear inactive.

Inactivity can lead to a lack of engagement metrics, making it challenging for ISPs to evaluate the relevance and legitimacy of your emails.

What’s more, managing a dedicated IP requires attention to best practices, including proper warm-up procedures. If you're sending low volumes, you might not follow the recommended warm-up process, leading to potential deliverability issues.

2. If you have limited technical resources or expertise

Managing a dedicated IP requires some technical know-how, including a solid understanding of email deliverability best practices, DNS configurations, email server management, and other related areas.

If you lack the technical expertise, relying on a shared IP provided by a reputable service provider can be a more straightforward option, as they often handle many of these tasks on your behalf.

3. If you are a new sender or have a low sender reputation

If your business is new to the email scene or has a limited reputation, starting with a shared IP can actually give you an advantage.

Shared IPs provide a collective reputation shared among multiple senders, offering a degree of insulation for new or less-established businesses. In a shared environment, the positive reputation built by established senders can help boost the deliverability of emails from newer senders.

Additionally, shared IPs are often well-maintained by reputable email service providers, which actively manage and monitor the IP's reputation. This shared infrastructure can act as a supportive starting point for businesses to gain a foothold in email marketing, without the complexities associated with managing a dedicated IP.

Tip: Want to know which email marketing services have a better track record in deliverability? Find out which tools we've identified as the top performers in our email deliverability tests – the results might surprise you!

4. If you have a tight budget

A dedicated IP often comes with additional costs compared to using a shared IP. This includes upfront fees and, in some cases, ongoing charges. If your business is just starting out, this extra expense might not be justifiable.

What’s more, managing a dedicated IP requires technical expertise for tasks like IP warm-up, authentication protocol configuration, and ongoing monitoring. If you don’t have the necessary technical resources, you might need to invest in additional personnel or tools, adding to the overall cost.

To give you an idea of how much a dedicated IP might cost, we’ve put together a table below outlining dedicated IP prices from some of the most popular email service providers.

How much does a dedicated IP for email marketing cost?

The cost of a dedicated IP can vary greatly depending on the email marketing service. We’ve listed the costs associated with the most popular services below. Note that most require you to be on enterprise-level plans and have a minimum of 100,000 contacts:

Provider Price More information
ActiveCampaign One-off fee of $750 on Enterprise plan ActiveCampaign Help Center
Brevo $251 per year Brevo Help Center
Constant Contact Dedicated IPs not offered
ConvertKit $250 per month ConvertKit Help Center
GetResponse Available upon enquiry (available only on GetResponse MAX plan) GetResponse
HubSpot $300 per month on Professional or Enterprise plans HubSpot Knowledgebase
Mailchimp $29.95 per month Mailchimp
MailerLite $50 per month MailerLite Help Center
Tip: Feel free to ask us about our email deliverability audit if you want some help improving the deliverability of your emails.

Best practices for a dedicated IP

If you do decide that a dedicated IP for email marketing is the right path for your business, make sure to follow these best practices.

IP Warm-up Process

A gradual warm-up is crucial to establish a positive reputation with email service providers and enhance deliverability. Gradually introduce your new dedicated IP into your email sending routine. Start with lower email volumes and progressively increase over time.

Monitoring Sender Reputation and Analytics

Regularly check and assess your sender reputation, which is a measure of your email sending credibility. Use analytics to gain insights into the performance of your email campaigns, which can help you understand how well your emails are being received and identify areas for improvement.

Adhering to Email Marketing Best Practices

Stick to established email marketing best practices to maintain a positive sender reputation. This includes sending relevant content, managing subscriber engagement, and avoiding practices that could lead to spam complaints or delivery issues.

Choosing Reputable Email Service Providers

Selecting a reliable email service provider is akin to having a dependable navigation system guiding you. A reputable provider not only offers a solid track record in deliverability – it also provides the necessary technical support and assists in optimizing your dedicated IP experience. Their expertise helps navigate potential challenges, improving your chances of a trouble-free email sending process.

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The choice of whether to invest in a dedicated IP for your email marketing efforts comes down to your business's specific requirements, the regularity of your email campaigns, and your technical expertise.

If you have a tight budget, opting for a shared IP is usually a more practical choice, as it often comes bundled with cost-effective plans and requires less hands-on management.

Remember, the goal is to ensure a positive email deliverability experience for both you and your recipients. Make decisions based on your current email marketing strategy’s needs. As your business evolves, you can reevaluate whether a dedicated IP aligns with your growing email marketing strategies.

Still not sure about whether your business needs a dedicated IP for email marketing? Let us know in the comments below so one of our email deliverability experts can help!

The authors

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Inka Wibowo

Senior Content Manager

Hi, I'm Inka! I spent the earlier part of my career in agency land, helping businesses of all sizes get their email marketing campaigns up and running. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm using my experience to help businesses like yours find the best email marketing services for your needs.

Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hello! I'm Robert, an email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience. After honing my skills at an agency by serving major corporations, I founded EmailTooltester as a passion project to help small and medium-sized businesses. Connect with me on LinkedIn where I regularly share my best email marketing knowledge.

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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