This post is “dedicated” to those who “share” the same question – or server, as the case may be….

What am I talking about? The difference between sending email from a shared environment vs. a dedicated environment. Is one better than the other? What are the benefits? What are the risks?

The simple answer is: it all depends! Specifically, it depends on reputation, sending history, sender preferences, and the infrastructure of the provider.

A shared environment is one where many senders use the same server and/or IP space. This can help senders with a less than stellar record improve their reputation – and the likelihood that their mail will be delivered. Shared sending usually means faster delivery, because there are more IP addresses available from which to send. Plus, mail has the ability to rotate through the full set of IP addresses within the shared space. Sharing the same space is also more affordable for most senders, especially for small volume senders.

The downside of sharing is that, because many senders are using the same environment, your reputation is not your own. You may be “dragged down” by another sender with a bad reputation, or less-than-ethical sending practices. If IP addresses get blocked or deferred due to a bad sender, it may affect your delivery and reputation.

A dedicated environment is pretty much the opposite of what I described above. You have your own IP addresses, and possibly your own server space. This is great if you send huge volumes of email, and don’t want to deal with problems caused by other senders, or issues affecting the ESP. You are also “signing” your own mail via your own DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail)* and other records. This shows that your mail is really coming from you.

A dedicated environment also means that if you have a bad reputation, or issues affecting your reputation and sending ability, these are yours and yours alone! They can’t be blamed on other senders. Additionally, any problems that occur, such as your mail being clocked and/or your domain being blacklisted, will be your responsibility to clear!

So, maybe the simple answer of “it all depends” isn’t so simple after all.

The best thing to do is to take an honest look at your sender reputation, the volume of mail you send, and your delivery rates. This will help you make an informed decision about what will be best for you.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

*DKIM and signing will be discussed in an upcoming post – stay tuned!