Dedicated IP vs Shared IP: Choosing the Best Solution for Your Email Campaign Needs

Dedicated IP vs Shared IP: Choosing the Best Solution for Your Email Campaign Needs
29 May, 2024 • ... • 35 views
Dmitry Teckel
by Dmitry Teckel

There are days when your emails just get stuck on the “undelivered” status. If this is a common problem with your campaigns, the cause may be your IP reputation. Keeping it nice and clean is priority number one when you do email marketing.

The ability to control and maintain your reputation depends, among other things. on the choice between a dedicated IP vs a shared IP for your mailing server. These two solutions provide very different experiences when it comes to handling risks and managing deliverability. Read this guide to learn about their differences and understand which one to use to ensure a strong email presence for your business.

What is an IP address?

In short, an IP address is your digital identification. To understand what that means, imagine the web as a crowded neighborhood where each building is a device — a computer, a phone, or a web server. In the real world, buildings have physical addresses to help people tell them apart and find the ones they need. 

The internet works the same way. Everything you see on your browsing screen reaches you through a process called Internet Protocol. This means that each time you send a message or go to a website, a data package is sent from one place to another. Much like real mail, these packages require a sender and a recipient, or hosts. That’s why every device has an IP address — a unique string of numbers to identify and locate it within the network. When you receive a package, your IP acts as a destination host. And when you send any data, your IP is called the origin host of the package.

Importance of an IP address in email deliverability

In emailing, your IP address is not directly tied to your device. Mailboxes exist in the cloud, so both senders and recipients use IPs provided by the mailing platform. Mailing IP doesn’t matter much for casual users, but it becomes incredibly important when you start using emails in your marketing campaigns.

Digital mailboxes are heavily protected by algorithms to prevent unwanted messages aka spam from reaching the recipients. Every email goes through security filters that check your sender reputation. If these filters detect any unwanted behavior from your IP, they may lower your sender score, and your newsletters may never reach their destination. 

 You gain a good reputation when you have a consistent sending volume, low unsubscribe rates, and high engagement. Sudden spikes in mailing activity, spam complaints from users, and low open rates negatively affect your email deliverability status.

An infographic shows that traffic from a good reputation IP reaches the mailbox after passing the security filters, and traffic from a bad reputation IP ends up in spam or not delivered at all

Simply put, the higher your sender reputation, the higher the chances that your emails successfully reach the recipients’ inboxes. And your reputation heavily depends on your IP behavior. The degree of your control over this parameter is influenced by which type of IP you use — dedicated or shared. 

What is the difference between dedicated and shared IP?

You can establish or buy a separate IP address — or a whole server infrastructure — entirely for your own use to have full control and responsibility. In this case, you get a dedicated IP. Or you can share it with other businesses, most likely through one of the many mailing services, — and get a shared IP. Going back to the housing metaphor, it’s just like the choice between having your own property or renting a flat with friends. Both options have their ups and downs, and the choice largely depends on your budget and sending patterns.

If you have fewer funds to spare and can’t allocate people to run a server, using shared IP addresses is a cheaper and easier solution. The catch is that you have less control over your reputation. Having a couple of spammers in your flock may bring down the whole shared IP. And there’s nothing you can personally do about it. The IP users are grouped randomly — so you can’t even call a house meeting to establish rules and find perpetrators like they do in sitcoms.

A gif from the TV show Workaholics where one character is explaining to another that they can’t call a house meeting at the moment
Source: GIPHY

What is dedicated IP, then? It’s a unique address that belongs to you only, so you always know what’s going on with your reputation. You’re in full control, but that means you also have to do all of the important “housekeeping” — which is not an easy task — on your own.

A gif image of Celine Dion performing her hit song “All By Myself”
Source: GIPHY

But having company can be a good thing too. Let’s dig deeper into the advantages of each IP type.

Advantages of dedicated IP

As mentioned earlier, using a dedicated IP has its cons. But in certain cases, it is the best possible choice. In particular, dedicated IP is a preferable option for running massive email marketing campaigns where the sending volume exceeds 300K emails. Having a dedicated address also means that you are the only owner of all of the server’s resources, and can use its benefits to the fullest.

Here are some more advantages of using a dedicated IP for your email campaigns. 

Greater control over reputation

Maintaining a good domain reputation is the surest way to get through mailbox security and ensure that your emails are seen and read. Using a shared IP, you run a risk of being marked as an untrustworthy sender if your IP “neighbors” use ill-advised practices and often get recognized as spam. Surely, email marketing platforms like Selzy keep a close eye on their shared IPs, so such situations are not too common. But dedicated IP completely negates such risks by making you the only user on the server, which gives you full control over your domain reputation.

Tip

To сheck your sender score, you can use specialized tools from our list of best email marketing resources for all kinds of purposes.

Higher deliverability potential

A shining reputation boosts your deliverability — but network problems and other technical issues may bring it back down. Fortunately, having limitless access to your dedicated IP settings will help you pinpoint issues and clean them up. Also, there are email providers that create bottlenecks for emails from the same IP, accepting only a set number of messages at a given moment. On shared IPs, your messages sometimes have to wait in line to be delivered — but having your own IP eliminates this issue.

Customized sending practices

Dedicated IPs also allow for some practices to help increase your deliverability even more. For instance, having no delivery delays means that you can use your own sending schedules based on audience research and analytics. In addition, you can put on a custom domain name, which establishes trust and advances your brand image. And don’t forget to fine-tune mailing volumes to increase your reputation.

Advantages of shared IP

If dedicated IPs are such a great idea, should everybody use them? Not really. Shared IPs are not something you should stay away from, rather a different approach that is actually better suited for smaller businesses and campaigns that are not regular (yet).  

Below are the main advantages of shared IPs to help you pick the right option.

Cost-effective solution

Most specialized mailing services aka ESPs provide shared IPs as a part of their basic subscription. This means that you won’t have to invest large sums into enterprise plans with lots of pro features you might not need at the moment. It matters a lot if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of subscribers — paying for a dedicated IP would be an overkill at this point.

Lower maintenance overhead

Being in full control over a dedicated IP means fixing its problems on your own as well. This adds a whole new area of skills to learn on top of just knowing your email marketing. Shared IP addresses are maintained by providers that are interested in giving you the best service possible. If you encounter a malfunction, hit the support and let the pros do the work.

Suitable for low-volume senders

Building a large mailing list is a matter of months, if not years. And sending emails sporadically and in small batches is a red flag for security protocols, so you may find your reputation hitting rock bottom if you don’t maintain a constant flow. Shared IPs usually group together similar-sized businesses and summarize their activity, so you can have a more relaxed mailing schedule and lower volumes. In reality, only the high regular sending volumes of about 300K+ emails a month make dedicated IPs a preferable option.

Another benefit is that if your shared IP already has a stellar reputation, it may give you a much-needed push when you are just starting out.

Factors to consider when choosing between dedicated IP vs shared IP

Now that you know about the benefits of different types of IP addresses, here are some points to think about when choosing the one for your business.

Volume of email sends

If you have a small business with a short contact list, use a shared IP to enjoy its tolerance to low sending volumes. If you are actively growing your audience and have a tight sending schedule, dedicated IP may suit you best.

Your goals for sending reputation

If you know how to warm up an IP and safely reach the required benchmarks in terms of sending volume and frequency, then dedicated IP is a thing to go for. When you’re not sure, shared IP will help you out by providing you with a reputation that is accumulated by collective usage of the same address.

Budget limitations

To those just probing the waters and learning email marketing on the go, choosing a shared IP will save you money and effort on maintenance. Dedicated IP is the choice for a larger enterprise with fewer budget and team number limitations.

Tolerance to risk and control preferences

Shared IPs are more beginner-friendly, but they are also more prone to damage from other users’ harmful actions. Dedicated IPs allow you to take your reputation and deliverability potential in your own hands — but at the cost of having to control every single aspect  on your own as well.

Wrapping up

Choosing an IP type for your mailing activities determines the level of your control over your sender reputation and newsletter deliverability. But there are also some other benefits to consider.

Here’s why you might prefer a dedicated IP over a shared one:

  • You want to fully control your sender reputation.
  • You need flexible settings and customization.
  • You can handle the warming-up process and maintenance.

On the other hand, you are better off with a shared IP if: 

  • You want to try out email marketing before fully committing.
  • You have a tight company budget for mailing services and their upkeep.
  • Your sending volume is below about 300K emails per month or you don’t have a regular newsletter yet.

Thanks to its accessibility, shared IP can be a great choice for beginners or smaller companies with less emphasis on email marketing. Dedicated IP is more fitting for established businesses and tech-savvy professionals who need to control every aspect of their online presence. When picking the IP type for your business, be sure that its advantages and limitations meet your end goals, budget and technical skills.

Article by
Dmitry Teckel
I got into digital marketing 5 years ago. When writing, I combine this experience with my background in journalsim. My passion is to research complex marketing stuff and turn it into a gripping, easy-to-read story. Writer by day, by night I play in a band and carve wood.
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