How to Warm Up an Email Domain – A Complete Blueprint

Warm up email domain

Email marketers are busy people. They write and send emails, sure, but they are concerned with many different aspects influencing the success of those emails, such as deliverability, sender reputation, or content quality. And they know how important it is to start an email marketing journey the right way — by ensuring all the best practices are in place

One of the first steps an email marketer takes is to warm up email domain. This is a necessary start because email service providers (ESPs) use special algorithms to filter out incoming emails and protect users from spam messages, making it hard for senders to reach the designated inbox. The problem is especially large if you’re a new sender with a new email domain.

In practice, warming up your email domain means you’re gradually increasing your email sending volume to slowly build credibility and trust with ISPs. This way, you can avoid being flagged as spam and ensure your email deliverability rates are the best they can be.

What is an Email Domain Name Warm-Up Process?

The email domain warm-up process is a strategic approach email senders use to establish a positive reputation with ESPs. It helps ensure your emails go to people’s inboxes, not their spam folders.

The main goal is to show ESPs that your email domain is legitimate, trustworthy, and not associated with spammy behavior.

The warm-up process typically begins with sending a small number of emails. As engagement metrics improve, you can gradually increase your email-sending volume. During the email domain warm-up phase, it’s important to maintain a consistent sending schedule. As more people open and click on your emails, email providers begin to see that your emails are legit.

The process implies you’re already sending emails with valuable content, your email list is clean and up-to-date, and your messages contain valid contact information and an easy way for people to opt-out.

If you neglect the initial warm-up phase in your email marketing, your emails can easily get marked as spam. That can completely ruin the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns because it gives you a bad reputation. That means your future emails will also go to the spam folder, and it’s very hard to get back from that point and gain trust again.

Do You Need to Warm Up Your Email Domain?

“But do I really need to go through the warm-up phase?“

We hear this question often, and the answer is — yes!

Warming up your email domain is not an option. It’s an important step that directly impacts the success of your email campaigns.

If you’re using a new domain or have been inactive for a while, skipping the warm-up phase can have huge consequences. ESPs view unwarmed domains as potential sources of spam, and this can significantly lower your email deliverability rate, ruin your sender reputation, and leave you with a failed investment. It’s much better not to get to that point because getting into the primary inbox again is notoriously difficult.

By investing your time and effort to warm up your email domain, you demonstrate that you are a trustworthy and legitimate sender.

This makes the foundation of any email marketing effort, and it’s your responsibility to make sure your emails land in the primary inbox.

How Long Does It Take to Warm Up Email Domain?

There is no fixed timeframe. 

It depends on several factors:

  1. The age and the reputation of your domain,
  2. Your sending practices,
  3. Your engagement with recipients.

Brand-new domains with no prior email history typically need more time. You can start by sending a minimal volume of emails and gradually increasing the quantity as you follow the engagement. If this is the case, you could be looking at several months of warm-up. 

Established domains with a positive sending history often go through the warm-up phase more quickly. If your domain has maintained good engagement, it may only take a few weeks to prove your legitimacy to ESPs. 

Applying this to all senders, it’s crucial to remember: rushing the warm-up process can damage your sender reputation.

Even if you find it tiring or boring, feel the need to give your emails everything you got, or really wish to shower your subscribers with genuinely fantastic content — rushing is not something you should do. 

Consistency and quality over speed, followed by regular engagement with recipients, are what defines a successful warm-up phase.

How Can You Warm Up Email Domain?

If you want to automate this process, you can go for paid or premium options with a suitable email service provider. But you could also try and do it for free. The choice between free and paid methods depends on your resources and preferences. Free methods work, but the paid ones can help you automate the process and get better results in the end.

Free methods will require more time and effort from you because you’ll be manually managing your email warm-up process.

You’ll need to:

  • gradually increase your sending volume,
  • segment your email list,
  • maintain a consistent sending schedule,
  • craft engaging content to encourage recipient interactions,
  • be patient,
  • tune in every day to check if everything is going the way it should.

While these strategies can be effective, you’ll need to develop a keen eye for email metrics and remain calm, spending a lot of energy thinking and handling the process. 

Should I Use Paid Domain Warm-Up Methods Then?

Paid methods offer automation and specialized tools designed to streamline the warm-up process. Using email marketing platforms and services, you can manage your sender reputation, domain reputation, and other elements that make a successful email marketing operation possible.

Email service providers save you time and, eventually — money, allowing more precise control over your warm-up strategy. You can automate the entire process without having to worry if it’s going to work. And you won’t need to log in every day to check if you’re doing it correctly, making the entire domain warm-up less stressful. 

How to Warm Up Email Domain for Free

If you’re strapped for cash, embarking on a lengthy email marketing journey might not be the best option at this moment, but if you insist on developing this channel, you can. Warming up your email domain for free is a practical approach without any additional costs, and it’s doable. Pay attention to the following strategies and keep your eyes peeled for any discrepancies and reports:

  1. Start small with a gradual volume increase: We recommend you start with around 100 contacts on day 1 and increase by approximately 10% per day. When you see positive interactions, slowly increase your sending volume. This kind of approach signals to ESPs that you are a real sender who’s trying to warm up an email domain.
  2. Divide your email list into segments manually: Divide your email list into segments based on engagement levels. Begin by sending emails to your most active and responsive subscribers. Once you see positive feedback, gradually expand your outreach to those who engage less.
  3. Stick to a consistent sending schedule: Establish a regular sending schedule. Consistency in email-sending patterns helps build trust with ESPs during the warm-up phase. You will need to show up and send those emails manually.
  4. Engage with relevant content: Write and design relevant content that encourages recipients to interact with your emails. High engagement rates, such as opens and click-throughs, play a major role in improving your email domain’s reputation.
  5. Track and adapt: Keep an eye on your email metrics, such as open rates, click-through rates, and bounce rates, and then adjust your strategy based on them.

The most important thing to worry about when warming up your email domain for free is the manual element. You won’t have software to help you, so everything will be in your hands — literally. Although we understand the need for manual domain warm-up, we don’t recommend it because you won’t be able to detect every little issue that may arise. Not like a specially designed software. 

Warm Up an Email Domain with an Email Service Provider

Using paid software tools to warm up an email domain can make things easier and improve your chances of success during the warm-up phase by automating the process.

Here’s what you should look for when warming up the domain with an email service provider:

  1. Clean IP address: Other ESPs might advise you to invest in a dedicated IP address. Our philosophy is different and is, in large part, the reason why our customers outperform other platforms. The overwhelming majority of senders would benefit by being on a clean IP pool vs. having a dedicated IP. We want Campaign Refinery customers to never even have to think about IPs whenever possible.
  2. Email list hygiene: By eliminating invalid or risky email addresses, email list management tools reduce the chances of your emails bouncing or being marked as spam. Campaign Refinery has an automated email list cleaning service available to all clients who join us. 
  3. Easy to build campaigns: A good ESP has an easy email campaign builder that can help you craft your warm-up phases quickly and without a fuss. Campaign Refinery has a whole library of templates you can use to polish your email strategy when you start and as you grow. 
  4. Email deliverability consultation: Experts can help you with email deliverability. They’ll assess your email domain’s health and create a warm-up plan tailored to your business needs.
  5. Automated warm-up tools: Utilizing automated warm-up tools can significantly simplify the process. They are monitoring real email interactions and automating the gradual increase in sending volume. With automation, you can warm up your domain a lot more effectively.

Warming Up a New Email Domain

Warming up your email domain for the first time, you should focus on actions that will help you establish trust with ESPs, but also on the quality of your strategy and your list. There are different aspects of your email strategy to focus on, such as:

  • Start slow and steady: Begin your warm-up process by gradually increasing your email sending volume: Start at 100 contacts and increase by approximately 10% per day. Sending a massive volume of emails right from the start can trigger spam filters. Begin with a small batch of emails and progressively work your way up.
  • Sort your email list: It helps to divide your email list into segments based on recipient engagement levels. Focus your initial emails on your most active and responsive subscribers. As you observe positive interactions, gradually expand your outreach to less engaged segments.
  • Focus on content: Write interesting emails people want to click on and read. Relevant messages not only encourage clicks but also reduce the likelihood of recipients marking your messages as spam. Personalization and targeted content can boost your engagement rates.
  • Monitor email metrics: Regularly monitor email metrics. They will tell you if you’re doing everything right or not. If the overall engagement rate is low, you’ll need to make some adjustments. 
  • Maintain consistency: Look ahead and create a smart schedule to stick to. Sending emails at odd hours and overwhelming recipients one day, while stretching out the follow-up messages for too long would be wrong. Be clear and consistent, which will show ESPs that you’re a trustworthy sender.
  • Be flexible with the daily volume: It’s OK to reduce the sending volume per day if the metrics are trending in the wrong direction in terms of opens and clicks. You can increase it when the metrics start showing good results.
  • Identify the emails that are performing well: If possible, identify which emails are performing the best. This will help you know what works and what doesn’t when you start a new campaign.
  • Be ready to stop if needed: Sometimes, things won’t go as planned. And if the engagement drops and nothing changes, the best strategy is to stop sending emails. Instead, analyze your current strategy. This will help you later on when you start over.

Things You Should Not Do When Warming Up Your Email

There are pitfalls you should avoid to ensure a smooth and effective process when warming up your email domain:

  • Don’t rush: One of the most common mistakes is rushing the warm-up process. Sending a large volume of emails too quickly and too early can raise red flags with ESPs. Take your time and warm up gradually.
  • Avoid sending to cold lists: Avoid sending emails to inactive or outdated email lists during the initial warm-up phase. These lists often have old or wrong email addresses that can damage your sender’s reputation.
  • Don’t neglect segmentation: Failing to segment your email list properly can harm your warm-up process. Segmentation helps tailor your messages to a specific audience, ensuring your emails are relevant. Sending generic emails to everyone can lead to recipients marking your messages as spam.
  • Avoid inconsistent sending patterns: Inconsistency in your email sending schedule can confuse ESPs. Stick to a consistent sending pattern throughout the email warm-up process to maintain a good reputation.
  • Don’t overlook content quality: Poorly written or irrelevant email content can lead to recipients marking your messages as spam. Ensure your emails provide value and are free from spelling and grammar errors.
  • Avoid ignoring metrics: Neglecting to track email metrics is a mistake. Watch open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and spam complaints. These metrics will give you all the insights you need for potential adjustments.
  • Don’t share IP addresses with shady senders: Never share your IPs with bad senders. Ensure that other senders sharing your IP space are clean and trustworthy, and you won’t have a problem during the warm-up phase.
  • Avoid purchased email lists: Never buy email lists as a shortcut to building a subscriber base. These lists often contain outdated or unverified addresses. This leads to high bounce rates and negatively impacts your sender’s reputation.
  • Don’t ignore feedback loops: Email service providers offer feedback loops that notify you of spam complaints. Ignoring these complaints can harm your sender’s reputation.
  • Don’t hide unsubscribe options: Always include a clear and visible unsubscribe option in your emails. Making it difficult for recipients to opt out can result in spam complaints.

How Does My Email Deliverability Change After The Warm-Up Phase?

After successfully completing the warm-up phase for your email domain, you can expect significant positive changes in your email deliverability.

Here are the results you can expect if you do or don’t warm up your email domain properly:

If you warm up your email domainIf you don’t warm up your email domain
Improved sender reputationPoor sender reputation
Decreased bounce ratesHigh bounce rates
Higher engagementLow engagement
Reduced spam complaintsIncreased spam complaints
Warm-Up Email Domain Expected Results

ESPs view warm-up as a sign of trustworthiness, and a positive sender reputation built during this phase gives you higher engagement rates. 

Warm Up Your Domain with Campaign Refinery

At Campaign Refinery, we insist on domain authentication, we scrub your list clean, we guide you through all the important processes, and we can help you conduct a smart domain warm-up as well! We’ve spent years perfecting our warm-up processes and creating clean and powerful automations to help you establish a great sender reputation and keep your open and click rates up.

Unlock elite email performance and apply to become one of the select clients of our premium service! 

To show you in depth how you should warm up your domain exactly, we want to share a piece of our precious knowledge with you: The Inbox Formula! In this extensive guidebook, you will learn how to perform actions that will instantly increase your email deliverability. The strategies presented in The Inbox Formula are what we use every day and the industry insights will equip you with the expert knowledge you need to run a successful email marketing operation. The guide contains a detailed blueprint dedicated to domain warm-up!

Our clients report INSTANT improvement after implementing these strategies and they claim their open rates increased from 2x to 6x since signing up with us! You can do this yourself and we are giving it to you completely free of charge. 

Learn how to improve email deliverability and warm up your email domain using The Inbox Formula today! 

Let us know how it works for you and — happy emailing! 

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