What Is Domain Warming, and How Does It Affect Email Deliverability?
October 3, 2022
Email marketing is one of the most effective strategies for engaging and retaining customers by providing valuable, actionable content. However, you don’t just wake up one day with a plan and start sending out emails. You have to build credibility and a good reputation for the IP address and your domain that are used to send the emails out.
Data privacy is an increasingly important issue for people and email service providers (ESPs). ESPs have taken measures to protect their users, which can sometimes look like identifying brand email content as spam.
Have you ever checked your spam folder and noticed the number of emails from legitimate companies? There’s a reason for that: They haven’t taken the time to gain a good domain reputation. They haven’t “warmed up” their domains.
So, what is domain warming? Why is it important? And how can brands “warm up” their domains? We’ve got you covered—read on!
What is domain warming?
Think about the last time you went for a run or swim or worked out. What did you do right before that? You probably stretched.
When beginning your email marketing campaign, you can’t just start sending a number of emails to a larger recipient pool from your domain. Instead, you have to begin establishing your domain credibility. You have to “warm up” or “stretch.”
Domain warming is the process of establishing credibility for a new domain by sending emails in small volumes and gradually increasing the number of emails over time.
By doing so, you’re building credibility among ESPs to ensure that your email is getting delivered to subscribers’ inboxes. This contributes to email deliverability, which is the process of delivering emails to a subscriber’s inbox, not their promotions or spam folder.
Why are ESPs skeptical of new domains?
You might be asking yourself this question. The answer is that a high number of unsolicited spam comes from new domains and unfamiliar IP addresses, which means ESPs have you under a massive magnifying glass to ensure you’re not playing any tricks on your subscribers.
Even though yours is a legitimate company, ESPs pick up on patterns, such as sending a lot of emails to a lot of people, so if you’re not careful about how you start your email campaigns, you’re going to appear to be a company or individual attempting to spam subscribers.
By starting with sending a low number of emails sent to a small pool of subscribers, you can eventually build a solid reputation for your brand and begin sending in larger volumes.
What are the benefits of domain warming?
The No. 1 benefit of domain warming is gaining a good reputation with ESPs so that your emails arrive in subscribers’ inboxes, not their spam folders or promotions folders. (The latter is a better result, though still not preferable over the main inbox.)
Here are three more benefits of domain warming:
1. It increases email deliverability.
As we’ve touched on, email deliverability is the process of delivering emails to a subscriber’s inbox. As you begin sending emails, you can test to see how your domain warming strategy performs. If you see that more emails are going to spam than you would like, you can pull back and adjust the email volume accordingly.
2. It lets you optimize email content.
Domain warming is a great time to study how your emails are performing with subscribers. Which emails are your subscribers clicking through most often? Which offers within the content are intriguing subscribers to get them on your product page?
You can test these emails, adjust your content, and optimize future email campaigns based on your findings.
3. It contributes to campaign effectiveness.
Every company with an email marketing campaign wants to get “whitelisted,” which essentially means you’re in good favor with ESPs. Once this happens, brands don’t have to worry as much about deliverability.
Instead, they can shift their focus to the effectiveness of their campaigns, better understanding their customers, developing retention strategies, and studying metrics that go beyond deliverability.
Ready to learn how our e-comm marketers can help you? Get in touch!
What are 5 strategies for domain warming?
It usually takes at least 3-4 weeks to establish credibility with an ESP. In that time, you need to execute strategies that focus on:
- How often you’re sending the emails
- The number of emails being sent
- Customers that are frequently interacting with your emails
- Developing an email template
- A dedicated IP address
1. Set a send cadence.
Although there’s no set-in-stone minimum number of days a week to send emails, you can rely on a send cadence of three days a week to establish a cadence that’s favorable to ESPs.
2. Discover the right volume of emails.
Similarly, this strategy might take trial and error to find the right volume. Set a specific volume threshold and use your analytics to measure email deliverability. Once you’ve found a volume that’s delivering to inboxes, start steadily building volume week by week.
3. Find the right customers.
Which emails are performing best? Which subscribers are interacting with your content the most? Focus on your most engaged subscribers and learn from the content that they’re enjoying and converting on. This helps to limit bounce rates and complaints.
4. Develop a slim email template.
Considering the enormous number of emails sent and received every day, your emails can’t contain too much content or too many images.
These days, people want to consume content quickly, which means your email templates need to be slim and to the point. Follow the golden rules of email marketing:
- Focus on one topic and one goal per email.
- Make sure the email is only two screen lengths of scrolling.
Any more than this and the subscriber won’t be the only one unhappy. The ESP will likely send the email to the promotions folder rather than the direct inbox.
5. Send emails from a dedicated IP address.
This strategy is listed last because, well, it should be your last strategy. Having your own dedicated IP address is very expensive, but it can help if all else fails.
When most companies sign up with an email platform, such as Klaviyo, they get placed into a big bucket of other companies that share the same IP address.
Sharing the same IP address can affect your email deliverability if other companies have bad sending practices. So, if you can’t figure out why your emails keep getting sent to the spam folder, you might consider purchasing a dedicated IP address.
Warm up that domain with our email templates!
Although there are plenty of careful steps to take when warming up a domain, you can never put too little weight on the content of your emails.
So why not make it easier on yourself by checking out our e-book on developing email templates? In addition to learning about the different types of emails to send, you’ll gain insight into how to:
- Build your list of consumers.
- Familiarize your audience with your brand.
- Nurture your relationship with your subscribers.
- Capture revenue through automated email flows.
Ready to learn how our e-comm marketers can help you? Get in touch!
About the author
Ryan O’Connor is Smartbug’s Director of E-commerce Growth, product manager, and sales director. He enjoys helping readers learn how to solve big business challenges through consumer psychology within the constantly evolving e-commerce landscape. Over the past 10 years, Ryan has helped 1000s of DTC brands navigate challenges to grow fast through intelligent marketing. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, having launched his own e-commerce stores from the ground up. Read more articles by Ryan O’Connor.
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