Imagine that you've started to invest heavily in email marketing with HubSpot. You see good results, but you want to make sure you're doing everything you can to maximize your investment and protect your email deliverability. Should you invest in a HubSpot dedicated IP for your sender reputation? It depends.
In this post, we'll compare shared vs dedicated IPs and look at a few other common misconceptions about deliverability to help you decide which setup is right for your HubSpot account.
What is an IP address, and how does it relate to email marketing?
Even though we think of email as coming from an email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org, for that address to work you need to have an "internet protocol address," or "IP" address. Normally IP addresses are formatted as a series of numbers separated by periods, like 123.456.1.1. If you haven't purchased a dedicated IP add-on from HubSpot, you're most likely sending on a HubSpot shared IP address.
What is a shared IP address?
A shared IP address means that HubSpot will send your emails along with other brands from a range of IP addresses they manage. If you run a seed list test, you'll see that your emails are going out on several different IP addresses that change from time to time instead of on one consistent address. Because you share send IPs with other brands, your IP reputation is also shared. If someone on your IP range emails a spam trap for example, it could affect your deliverability and vice versa.
Are shared sending IPs bad for email deliverability?
Does sending from a shared HubSpot IP address lower your inbox placement? Not necessarily. In some cases, the advantages of a shared IP address outweigh the benefits of a dedicated one. In our experience, HubSpot-managed IPs generally have consistently high sender scores and excellent deliverability. Keep in mind that maintaining the reputation of a dedicated IP address takes some work. Shared IP addresses, by contrast, are supported by HubSpot, making them very easy to use. In addition, while you have to purchase a HubSpot dedicated IP, you can send on HubSpot shared IPs at no additional cost.
What is a dedicated IP?
If you purchase the dedicated IP address add-on for your HubSpot account, your emails will be sent on your own IP range, and your sender reputation will be independent of other senders. The huge upside of this is it gives you the ultimate level of control. If you have a good sender reputation, you won't have to worry about it being tarnished by other senders using the same email service provider.
There are also specific instances where having a dedicated IP address can make managing your HubSpot deliverability easier. For example, certain inbox providers allow you to submit your IP address for "whitelisting." The same situation can happen with blacklists which often block senders at the IP address level rather than at the domain level.
Lastly, there is also a certain amount of security in tying your brands' emails to a specific IP address vs. sharing one with hundreds of other brands.
So with all these great reasons for purchasing a dedicated IP add-on, are there any downsides?
Yes! If your email sending practices are not optimized, you can encounter more deliverability issues on a dedicated IP address. HubSpot states on their blog: "If you’re not completely confident in the cleanliness of your list, it’s possible that you can actually benefit from the good habits of your neighbors on a shared IP."
If you make mistakes on a dedicated IP, for example, by sending to a spam trap or a disengaged audience, you alone will reap the costs. Some of the worst deliverability issues we've seen have happened due to customers trying to escape a poor domain reputation by getting a new IP address.
Changing domains or switching IP addresses may help your deliverability in the short term, but spam filtering algorithms will quickly catch on. In some cases, it appears certain spam filters may even start to filter emails that link to specific domains if they think the sender is trying to "trick" their system by switching IP addresses and domains.
In addition, if you're not sending a consistently high volume of marketing emails, you might find it hard to maintain a healthy sending reputation. Inbox providers like Gmail and Microsoft like to see consistent volumes of email coming from IP addresses – otherwise, they may flag them as risky. For this reason, HubSpot recommends dedicated IP addresses for high-volume senders sending over 100,000 messages per month who need complete control over their sender reputation.
Warming up a new dedicated IP
Deliverability experts recommend using a careful warm-up process whenever you start sending from a new IP range. To do this, send consistently while slowly increasing the volume of emails with each send. Fortunately, HubSpot automatically warms new sending IPs over the first 40 days after you set up a dedicated IP address.
Should I use a dedicated IP?
If you want complete control of your deliverability and have the resources in place to maintain a high sender score, you could likely benefit from a dedicated sending IP. On the other hand, if you're a small team with limited resources, you will probably find it easier to use HubSpot's shared sending IPs.
It's not uncommon for senders who see their emails getting caught in spam filters to seek out dedicated IPs hoping for an easy fix. But switching to a dedicated IP address without making sure you have best practices in place is risky. HubSpot reinforces this in another blog, saying: "If you have higher than average hard bounce rates (3% or above) or irregular sending volumes, you might do better on a shared IP."