Mastering Email Domain Reputation: A Guide to Warm-Up and Ramp-Up Process

Modified on Sun, 12 Mar 2023 at 11:46 AM

Introduction

When a new sender moves to a new domain, they must go through a warming process to establish their reputation as a legitimate and trustworthy sender. This involves both warming up their sending reputation and ramping up their email volume over time.

Warm up phase involves both the warm up  and ramp up process, i.e. gradually building a positive reputation with internet service providers (ISPs) and their spam filters. To achieve this, the ramp up process is used which typically involves sending emails to smaller segments of the email list, focusing on engaged subscribers who are more likely to interact with the emails. This helps to establish a positive sending reputation with ISPs and can improve deliverability rates.

Whereas the Ramp up phase starts after the warm up phase ends and uses only the ramp up process. Once the sender has successfully warmed up their domain, they can begin ramping up their email volume over time. This involves gradually increasing the number of emails sent each day or week, while still maintaining a focus on engaged subscribers and monitoring email metrics and engagement rates. 

Differentiation: Warm-Up vs. Ramp-Up

› Purpose: The purpose of the warm-up process is to establish a positive reputation with internet service providers (ISPs) by gradually increasing the email quantity. The purpose of the ramp-up process is to gradually increase email volume over time to prevent sudden spikes that could trigger spam filters and negatively impact email deliverability.

› Starting Point: Domain warm-up typically starts with a low volume of emails sent to a small group of engaged subscribers, while domain ramp-up starts with an established email domain with a history of sending emails.

› Volume: In domain warm-up, the email volume is gradually increased over several weeks until the desired volume is reached. In domain ramp-up, the email volume is gradually increased over several weeks or months based on historical email sending patterns.

Use Cases of Warm-Up

Here are a few situations where going through a warm-up phase is mandatory to ensure successful email deliverability:

 Domain With No Engagement History

1. If you have a new domain and have no previous engagement history, it is crucial to go through a warm-up phase before gradually increasing your sending volume. This process allows the receiving ISPs to learn about your brand and sending practices, and to build a meaningful reputation based on factors such as authentication, user engagement, and other associated impacts. 

2. And, if you have an old domain that has not been previously engaged and you have no engagement history from the previous domain either, it is important to go through a warm-up process in this case as well in order to establish a positive reputation and ensure successful email delivery.

Note: If you belong to this use case category, you can bypass the first two steps of the warm-up guideline presented below and proceed directly to step 3.

 Domain With Engagement history

1. If you have an engagement history with a previous domain, but you plan to use a new domain with this engagement history, you must still go through the warm-up phase.

2. If you have an old domain with engagement history that is no older than 30 days, it is still recommended to follow the warm-up process to ensure a smooth transition and maintain your sending reputation.

Warm-Up Guidelines

Here are a few warm up guidelines to follow in order to build a positive reputation among ISPs.

1. Export Previous User Engagement Data

Moving from one email service provider (ESP) to another can have a significant impact on your email deliverability, especially if you are using a new domain. To mitigate this risk, it's important to take historic engagement data into account when you are warming your infrastructure.

By using historic engagement data, you can build engaged segments based on subscribers' past interactions with your emails. These segments allow you to introduce your new domain to the mailbox providers (MBPs) in a positive manner.

Sending to engaged segments over time helps to prevent any single low-performing message from damaging your overall deliverability. This is because you are only sending to subscribers who are already interested in your brand and are more likely to interact with your emails.

2. Develop Compelling Audience Segments

When sending email campaigns, it's important to consider the impact of each message on your overall deliverability. If a single message has low engagement or high complaint rates, it can damage your reputation and affect your ability to reach your audience in the future.

One way to mitigate this risk is to send your messages to highly engaged segments over time. By gradually ramping up your sending volume and targeting your most engaged subscribers first, you can build a positive reputation and minimize the impact of any low-performing messages.

You can create multiple segments based on various events from the past 30, 60, 90, 120, and 180 days and start with a 30 day segment. By starting with your 30-day segment, you can send your initial campaigns to your most engaged subscribers. This will help you establish a positive reputation and build momentum for your future campaigns.  

Click here to learn how to create a segment.

Note: If you're launching a new domain without any previous engagement data, there's no need to worry. You can establish a positive reputation by following the guidelines below and skip the first two steps of this guideline.

3. Regulate Daily Outreach Volume

During the warm up phase, it is important to keep in mind the specific volumes of sending, especially in cases where the number of users in your segment is too large or if you want to send campaigns to specific subscriber groups. If you decide to include all users instead of specific segments, it becomes even more crucial to control the sending volume. 

A good starting point is to target 2000 users on your first day, with 10% hourly divisions, i.e. sending to 200 subscribers per hour. For each subsequent day, you can ramp up the volume by 50%, i.e. in this case targeting 3000 subscribers the next day with the same 10% hourly division, sending to 300 subscribers per hour.

It's important to keep in mind that as you continue to send emails in these mentioned volumes, it's essential to exclude subscribers who are less engaged or not engaged at all, particularly if you don't have any user history. 

For example, if you sent an email to 2,000 users on the first day and only 600 performed well, you should exclude the remaining 1,400 subscribers. On the second day, you can target 3,000 subscribers, including the previous 600 engaged users and add 2,400 new subscribers. 

This way, you can gradually increase your volume while ensuring that you're only targeting engaged subscribers. For more information on daily sending volumes, click here

4. Sending Email Campaigns

When creating an email campaign to target your users during the warm-up process, there are different options available to you. You can choose to target specific users or subscriber groups, all users on your list, or segments that you have created based on engagement data. However targeting users via segments is the most efficient way, so we’ll recommend you to use the same.

As you begin to interact with your subscribers in the 30, 60, 90, 120, and 180 day segments, it's important to strive for the following:

              › Open rates above 40%                                     › Click rates above 1%

              › Unsubscribe rates below 0.1%                       › Complaint rates below 0.1%

During the first two weeks, target the 30-day engaged segment and aim for the above mentioned engagement rates. If you achieve the desired rates for two weeks, you can relax the engagement criteria and target the 60-day engaged segment. 

If you maintain the same rates for four weeks, you can relax the criteria further and target the 90-day engaged segment. Continue increasing the segment days in this order.

If your email segment has a large user base, you can use our split delivery feature to break up your email sends into smaller groups of users. Click here to learn how to use split delivery in email campaigns.

Also, do remember to adhere to the maximum volume guidelines, with hourly breaks, when sending out email campaigns. You can refer to our max volume per day timeline by clicking here.

To simplify the process of following the recommended timeline, you can use our schedule delivery feature with 10% hourly division. This will ensure that you stay within the maximum volume guidelines. If you're unsure how to use this feature, click here to learn more.

And as explained earlier, do remember to exclude the non-performing subscribers.

Pro-Tip: To ensure that your subscribers do not receive the same email multiple times, it is recommended that you send newly crafted emails with each campaign as you progress through each step of the warmup process daily. As you move to the later steps of the warmup process, the subscribers will be combined, which means that the segments will include customers who have received your warmup emails before. As a result, it is important to send different content to prevent overlap and ensure engagement. At some point in your warmup plan, you may notice that contacts in warmup segments will start overlapping, meaning that sending different content is critical in most cases.

All in all, sending email campaigns is an effective way to warm up your domain, as it gradually introduces your domain to mailbox providers over time.

5. Automated Journeys

Automated journeys can help warm up a domain by gradually increasing email engagement with targeted and relevant content. By using automated journeys, you can send a series of emails that are triggered based on user actions or behaviors. This allows you to send personalized messages to your subscribers, encouraging them to open, click, and engage with your emails. 

You can use the following 2 types of journeys to warm up your domain

› Welcome Journey: Once you have your segment list, create a welcome journey that introduces your brand and provides value to your subscribers. Start with a series of welcome emails that include information about your company, products or services, and any special offers or promotions. 

However if you are using previously engaged data, then such users are already aware of your brand, so you can skip this point and directly use nurture journey

› Nurture Journey: This journey is designed to keep your subscribers engaged and interested in your brand over a period of time. It can include a series of educational content, offers, and calls-to-action that guide your subscribers towards making a purchase or taking a specific action.

As you progress through the journey, gradually increase the volume of emails you send. Start with a small number of emails as mentioned in the timeline, and gradually increase the frequency as your domain reputation improves.

Overall, automated journeys can be an effective way to warm up your domain by building engagement and trust with your subscribers over time. Create your own journey now or click here to learn about the process.

6. Keep Track of Your Progress

Monitoring the performance is a very important part of domain warm up. Along with ramping up your volume, it's essential to monitor the process and keep removing non performing users. 

If we do not monitor and keep targeting our non performing users as well, it will negatively impact our reputation and slow down our warm up process.

To monitor your emails performance you can use our email stats function, it includes everything you need to track your performance, including open rate, click rate, bounce rate, total deliveries, total failures, daily graph, and much more. 

To know more in detail about email statistics, kindly read our article ”Email Campaign Report Analytics


And, If you encounter any email delivery errors, you can refer to the error stats section to identify the same.

For assistance with email delivery issues, please refer to our article "Diagnosing and Resolving Email Delivery Failures in a Bulk Campaign."

Ramp-Up Phase

As mentioned earlier, once you have completed the domain warm-up phase and established a good reputation, you can move to the ramp-up phase to increase your email volume. This is crucial because a sudden surge in volume may trigger suspicion among ISPs, leading to a decline in your deliverability and reputation.

To maintain a positive reputation with ISPs and avoid suspicion, it's important to continue following the ramp up guidelines even after the warm up phase. This means gradually increasing your email volume by 50% each day, with 10% hourly divisions.

The guidelines for the ramp-up phase are the same as those described in the warm-up phase. You can target users via campaigns and predefined journeys using engaging segments.

During this process, it is important to monitor your engagement metrics, including open rates, click-through rates, and spam complaints during the ramp-up phase. Use this information to optimize your content and frequency to keep your subscribers engaged.

Ramp-Up Volume Timeline

Here is the timeline to follow during the warm-up and ramp-up phases. If you are in the warm-up phase, start from day one and gradually increase the volume by 50% each day with hourly division of 10%. 

In the ramp-up phase, you can continue from the current volume and follow the same 50% increase per day with 10% hourly division. It is crucial to adhere to this timeline for successful domain warming and maintaining good deliverability.



Note: The volumes specified in the timeline represent the maximum daily and hourly volumes that can be used.

Optimize With Subdomains

Did you know that subdomains have their own reputations? They can be thought of as branches of a tree, each developing separately with varying strength, even though they are ultimately controlled by the primary organizational domain.

One of the key benefits of using subdomains is that they help maintain consistent branding while protecting the deliverability of different types of email streams. For example, you can associate transactional and promotional content with unique subdomains using custom DKIM and Return-Path, reducing the risk of bulk send affecting the deliverability of important alerts that keep your app functional.

However, just like any reputation, a subdomain's reputation is not created out of thin air. It needs to be "warmed up" with email receivers by gradually increasing the number of messages sent. So, if you're thinking of creating a new subdomain, be sure to take this into account and plan accordingly.

Conclusion

In conclusion, warming up and ramping up your email domain is a crucial process to ensure high deliverability rates and maintain a good sender reputation. 

Following the guidelines mentioned in this article, such as gradually increasing your email volume, targeting engaging segments, and monitoring your metrics, can help you build trust with internet service providers and avoid being marked as spam. 

By implementing these best practices and strategies, you can successfully establish a strong email domain reputation and increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.




FAQs

 

Q: Is a warm-up process necessary for an established domain that is already engaging with users and is more than 30 days old?

A: No, if your domain is more than 30 days old and you are already engaging with users, then it is considered an established domain and a warm-up process is not necessary.

 

Q: If I have completed the warm-up phase and built up my reputation among ISPs, can I send a large volume of emails now?

A: Even if you have built your reputation, it is not recommended to send a large volume of emails all at once as it may appear suspicious to ISPs and negatively affect your deliverability. It is still recommended to follow a ramp-up process, even after completing the warm-up phase, to gradually increase your email volume and maintain a positive reputation with ISPs.

 

Q: How do I know that my warm up phase is over?

A: The length of the warm-up phase can vary depending on several factors such as the volume of emails being sent, the quality of email lists, and the engagement level of subscribers. However, a good indicator that the warm-up phase is over is when you have consistently maintained high engagement rates and low spam complaint rates for a significant period of time. 

 

Q: Is it necessary to break daily volumes into hourly target volumes?

A: It is recommended to divide your email volumes and target users on an hourly basis during both the warm up and ramp up phases. Targeting 10% of your daily volume per hour is considered a best practice to avoid triggering spam filters and maintain good deliverability.

 

Q: What is the typical duration of a warm up process for email domains?

A: A warm up process for email domains typically takes around 30 to 45 days to build up your reputation among ISPs and establish trust with your subscribers. However, the duration can vary depending on the volume of emails being sent and the engagement level of the subscribers. It is important to monitor engagement metrics closely and adjust the warm up plan as needed.

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