Choosing a dedicated or shared IP address may seem like an inconsequential decision, but it can significantly impact the effectiveness of your patient engagement efforts. Learn why dedicated IP addresses are preferred for transactional and marketing emails in the healthcare industry.
What is a Dedicated IP Address?
An IP address is a string of unique characters that can be found in the headers of your sent emails. Internet service providers use them to identify the origin of the email message. ISPs use the IP address’s reputation to determine if the message is spam and should be delivered to the recipient.
Dedicated IP addresses belong to your organization and cannot be used by other customers of your email service provider. By having a dedicated IP address, the server’s reputation and delivery power are a function only of the organization’s sent mail. Dedicated IP addresses have several advantages, including:
- No shared resources with other senders
- Reputation management and brand safety
- Improved email deliverability
- Easier to troubleshoot blacklisting issues
We will discuss the benefits of dedicated IP addresses and what they mean for your organization later.
What is a Shared IP Address?
In contrast, a shared IP address does not belong to your organization and is shared among the customers of an email service provider. Shared IPs are the default option for many email service providers. Upgrading to a dedicated IP usually incurs an additional fee, so many organizations get started using a shared IP address. It is a cost-effective solution for some smaller organizations with limited or small sending needs. No IP warm-up is required since the address is active and in use, meaning it’s easy to start sending quickly. However, as organizations grow and their sending needs increase, they may be frustrated with the following:
- Slow email delivery
- Undelivered emails
- Emails frequently flagged as spam
- Blacklisted IP addresses
When email becomes a critical business channel, it’s often time to switch from a shared IP to a dedicated solution.
The Benefits of Dedicated IP Addresses for Patient Engagement Emails
Healthcare organizations that rely on email should strongly consider using dedicated IP addresses to improve trust and ensure critical communications are sent on time and are received in patients’ inboxes. If patients cannot receive critical information about appointments, prescriptions, or other healthcare needs, it will negatively impact their experience and may cause them to choose another provider.
No shared resources with other senders
When sending substantial quantities of time-sensitive emails, your sending speed may be limited by others using a shared IP address. Important emails (like password resets and appointment reminders) can get stuck in long sending queues, and you will have no control over when the messages are sent out. In contrast, you have complete control over your sending speed and resources when using a dedicated IP address (or multiple IP addresses). External users will never slow you down.
Reputation management and brand safety
Another perk of using a dedicated IP address is that you can match it to your company’s DNS records. To do this, your mail server’s IP address to send outbound emails must have a “Reverse DNS.” This is the responsibility of the email service provider (at LuxSci, we set this up automatically). If set up incorrectly or missing, you will have significant deliverability issues.
When someone performs a reverse DNS lookup on a company’s dedicated IP address, it will clearly identify the sender and provides additional information about the company. This data builds trust and improves your reputation with ISPs.
Improved email deliverability
The main reason many choose dedicated IP addresses is to improve the deliverability of their emails. If email service providers do a terrible job vetting their customers and allow spammers to use their service, bad actors can quickly contaminate reliable IP addresses. When using dedicated IP addresses, you can control the IP warm-up process and prevent employees from engaging in spammy practices. By having full control over your IP reputation, you can improve the deliverability of your emails and prevent them from being flagged as spam.
Easier to troubleshoot blacklisting issues
Though most ISPs will not acknowledge “whitelists,” senders using dedicated IP addresses can subscribe to Complaint Feedback Loop (CFL) programs to help minimize complaint rates. If you participate, ISPs will forward complaints from users about emails sent from your organization’s IP addresses.
Even if you can’t get on a whitelist, understanding when and why your IP address is blacklisted is valuable information. When using a shared IP, it’s impossible to know why it was blacklisted. Another user could have sent spammy content, used a paid list, or sent a large mailing to an old contact list. To get off the blacklist, troubleshooting the issue, fixing it, and avoiding future mistakes are essential to increasing reputation and staying out of the spam filter. It’s easier to identify which emails are generating spam complaints when you aren’t sharing IP addresses.
Consider using dedicated IP addresses if your organization uses email for patient engagement efforts. They provide the reliability and reputational benefits you need to execute these campaigns at scale. Contact us today to learn more about how to engage patients with personalized email campaigns.