Shared vs. dedicated IP: Which is right for your email marketing?

When it comes to shared vs. dedicated Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, choosing the right one is not always clear-cut. The type of IP that is suitable for one individual or business may not be the best for you. 

We usually assume that something “dedicated” is better than something you have to share with someone else. But just as sunsets, laughter and jokes (even the dad kind) are better when shared, sometimes IPs are too! 

In this article, we’re going to look at what shared and dedicated IPs are, how they can increase deliverability, and how you can build sender reputation and avoid spam folders while using a shared IP.

An IP address is a unique identifier assigned to each device on the internet. You could think of it as a phone number or physical address; a way for the Internet to distinguish between devices, and send and deliver data to its intended destination. 

In email marketing, internet service providers (ISPs) like Gmail and Yahoo determine whether or not to deliver your emails based on your IP reputation (and many other factors). The higher your reputation, the more likely you are to have a better deliverability rate and inbox placement. Low reputation scores may result in emails being rejected or ending up in spam folders!

Let’s look at the main differences between shared and dedicated IPs.

Whether included as part of a premium package or offered as a separate service or add-on, dedicated IPs are pricier than shared IPs. They often involve an additional monthly or yearly pricing plan, as well as setup and maintenance fees.

ESPs, like MailerLite, usually include the use of a shared IP in the price of the plan. Email marketers on a budget and those with low sending volumes will find that shared IPs make more sense economically!

A dedicated IP is an IP address that is used solely by you. You’re the only one sending emails with this IP address.

graphic showing dedicated IP

Dedicated IPs are a great option for larger companies with resources and technical staff to manage their IP. The benefits of dedicated IPs are:

  • More control over the deliverability of emails
  • Better option for high-volume email senders
  • Easier to identify potential deliverability issues
  • Easier to safelist
  • DNS records of your IP are linked only to you, increasing trustworthiness

A dedicated IP for email gives you more control over your IP reputation, so only your actions will have an influence. It sounds great to have such control but you’ll very much be wielding a double-edged sword! 

While you don’t need to worry about how the actions of others might impact your IP reputation, any mistake that you make will have a larger negative impact on your deliverability. Then it’s up to you to rebuild that reputation. 

So is an IP address better when it’s solely used by you? Both dedicated and shared IP addresses can be beneficial depending on each sender’s needs, so it’s important to consider all their pros and cons when choosing which one is right for you. Let’s take a look at shared IPs.

A shared IP is a single IP address that is being shared with a pool of other email senders. Your email marketing software takes care of monitoring, maintaining, and optimizing the reputation of this shared IP address and other IPs in the pool. 

graphic showing shared IP

Shared IPs are more suited for smaller organizations that are new to email marketing and wish to send emails quickly. With a shared IP, you can piggyback off of the IP reputation of the email service provider (ESP) immediately. You don’t have to warm-up a new IP address by gradually increasing your sendings.

While it’s not impossible to safelist a shared IP, it is more difficult. Safelisting an IP allows senders to avoid spam folders, but shared IPs can still work well for smaller volume senders due to the lower impact on reputation.

The benefits of shared IPs:

  • Technical know-how is managed by the ESP
  • No need to build up IP reputation
  • More cost-effective solution (dedicated IPs come with extra costs)
  • Better for senders of low volume of emails (less than 150,000 per month) or sporadic senders, as ISPs prefer consistent email sending
  • Mistakes have a much smaller impact on IP reputation 

Using a dedicated IP for marketing emails isn’t the only way to improve email delivery rates and inbox placement. There are proven tactics that can be implemented to make sure your sending reputation remains squeaky clean and subscribers stay engaged. Let’s run through them.

1. Authenticate your domain

Domain authentication lets the world know that your email address is associated with your domain name and you are who you say you are. More trust means emails are more likely to land in subscribers’ inboxes and less likely to bounce or end up in spam. 

2. Optimize your email content

You can analyze and optimize emails for deliverability before you send them. Keep the formatting simple, clean up broken links and images, avoid spammy language, and make sure you include an unsubscribe link. 

Find out more about MailerCheck’s email testing tool to gain insights about emails before you send them. 

3. Keep your subscriber list healthy

Maintaining a healthy email list means instantly verifying new sign-ups and regularly filtering out inactive subscribers. Doing this enables you to keep your email list warm and engaged, with consistent open rates that help emails to avoid being marked as spam. 

In fact, many ESPs will use the health of your subscriber list to decide whether you can use their service!

See how easy it is to verify your email list with MailerCheck.

4. Create content your subscribers want to see

By sending content that your subscribers care about, you’ll minimize spam complaints and ensure consistent open rates. Make each email valuable for the reader—remember, the value is in not what you offer but what's in it for your audience.

5. Segment subscribers

One size doesn’t fit all. Similarly, sending a mass newsletter to everyone on your list is unlikely to build reader engagement. Filter subscribers based on demographics or specific interests so that you can send different content to segments of your audience, keeping them engaged. 

6. Don’t use spammy subject lines

Even companies that we like to hear from sometimes end up in the spam folder. Spam filters look at various things when evaluating whether your email is spam or not. The subject line is important because it’s the first thing subscribers see. Never use ALL CAPS, use exclamation marks sparingly, and avoid salesy buzz words such as “free”, “offer” and “money”.

7. Avoid spam traps

A spam trap is a decoy that uses email addresses to catch spammers. These emails have only one purpose—to serve as spam bait. Any messages sent to these addresses are considered unsolicited emails and thus spam. You can find spam traps in purchased email lists, for example.

Hitting a spam trap is likely to land you in a blocklist from which it is very difficult to leave. You can avoid spam traps by keeping your email list clean and adopting healthy sending practices like email verification and double opt-in.

For those of you with a shared IP, it’s time to take the right steps to optimize your deliverability. If you’re thinking of moving to a dedicated IP to give your deliverability a boost, take a step back and reconsider if it’s what you really need.

Shared IPs are more cost-effective. They allow senders to take advantage of the ESP’s good reputation and management of the IP. As long as you maintain clean subscriber lists and email content, your sender reputation and email deliverability will be A-OK.

Amy Elliott
I’m Amy, Content Writer at The Remote Company. As a child, I dreamt about writing a book and practiced by tearing pages from an A4 notepad and binding them with sugar paper. The book is pending but in the meantime, I’ve found a passion for telling a different kind of story-the brand story-by writing fun, valuable, human content.