Here’s a scenario for you: You’re new to email marketing, or you’ve got a new list of thousands of addresses that you want to send to. You’ve got an account with an ESP, so you should be ready to go, right? Not so fast! You can’t just open the floodgates – your sending has to be “ramped up”. But what the heck does that mean??

Ramping up is really just starting with a small mailing and building up gradually until you’re sending to your entire list. This helps ensure that your email campaigns will be successful over time, and that you don’t have any issues with complaints, delivery or bounces. If you’ve never mailed before and have a very large subscriber base, or if you move a large number of contacts from one ESP to another, you will probably find that you’ll have to ramp up your sending.

From a compliance perspective (and remember- we are a cynical and highly suspicious lot), ramping up is a way to protect the server/IP addresses from which your mail is being sent, as well as a way to mitigate spam complaints or direct abuse desk complaints. It’s a way for us to control how much, and how often, email goes out from a new account.

How the Ramping Process Works

Your total number of addresses are broken down into smaller segments which will then be mailed to on a slower schedule.

The size of the segments and the duration of the ramp-up period depends on how many addresses are in the new account, what type of business the sender is in, and/or what type of content they are sending. A typical ramp-up schedule might include sending every other day to initial segments of 15,000 addresses each. This gives your friendly compliance specialist time to review the performance of the mailing.

What We Look For In A Mailing

How did the mailing do overall? Was the delivery rate good? What did the opens and clicks look like? Were there any complaints?

If all is well, then we’ll give the green light to the next segment of addresses. If results from the initial mailing aren’t so good, then you have a chance to re-work your content, subject line, address segments, etc. If things are really dire, then the compliance specialist has to make a harder decision about whether we can continue the relationship with you as a sender. And believe me, this is NOT something we like to do!

If your segments continue to do well in subsequent mailings, you may be advised to increase the number of addresses. This is how we get you up the hill, at a measured and steady pace, as soon as possible. The better the mail performs, the faster the ramp-up process goes. It may seem like a stall tactic, especially for a new sender, but there are valid business reasons behind it. Bottom line, it works, and you are so much better off in the long run!

What If You’re Using A Shared IP?

You might ask why you have to go through the ramp-up process if you’re sending via a shared IP, or if the IPs aren’t new. The answer is simple: the ramp up I’m describing is for compliance purposes – not a warm up/ramp up for IP addresses. Bet you thought I was going to respond with a snarky comment like, “’Cause I said so” or “I’m a COMPLIANCE guy – why would I write about DELIVERY stuff?”. Actually, those were my initial responses, but my editors didn’t “warm up” to them! See what I did there? A little compliance humor for you!

At any rate, to sum up: Ramping is an important strategy we use to help ensure the success of a new client, or an existing client with a very large list of new addresses. Think of it as a way to gradually build trust, a good reputation, and sending expertise – things every email marketer needs to succeed!