This article was created in cooperation with CyberFolks, a provider of hosting services for thousands of customers in Poland, helping users to choose and purchase a domain name. How do you combine a web hosting solution with email messaging best practices? Why you should have dedicated SMTP servers and what could email logs bring to your business? Learn more about this in our post.
Just a few years ago, sending messages from a mailbox set up on the first better email hosting worked flawlessly. Messages used to get delivered to recipients, and back then no one was particularly concerned with deliverability issues, while email analytics was limited to tracking open rate and click-to-rate of newsletter campaigns. Since then a lot has changed, mainly the number of messages sent. In 2017 there were 269 billion emails sent per day, today it’s around 333.2 billion. With an increased email volume, a lot of previously unknown issues have emerged.
Transactional or system messages such as order confirmation, password reset notifications, sales documents, or newsletter sign-ups do not take precedence over marketing messages, and if you send all types of messages from one SMTP, the most important emails tend to suffer. Moreover, the high volume of mailings has caused the sending limits of inbox providers to become more harsh for us. Since many senders send out marketing communication at certain hours, without having a properly configured email infrastructure it is unlikely that key emails, which are usually impatiently awaited, will reach their recipients in an acceptable time. The closer we’ve come to the limits of technologies we use to send messages, the more challenges have appeared on the horizon.
Mailbox providers in order to protect their servers and their users from an increased number of mostly unwanted messages, started to implement various anti-spam policies on their own. While some of their requirements are similar, the rest may differ significantly, requiring many changes over time. Local ISPs operated on a more simple, zero-one basis; e.g. if a sender sent from a no-reply email address provider would assign him negative points. The same goes when e.g. a domain fails SPF and DKIM authentication. Global, on the other hand, has turned to build artificial intelligence models based on multidimensional factors, where a large part in evaluating email quality plays recipients’ reactions to messages, or so-called social factors. That’s why today we can’t say every email sent reaches the inbox. And which ones do? Well, it’s what advanced analytics and email logs are for. Even Open Rate and CTR are not enough anymore. Which is why we’re talking about deliverability and what influences it most, that is, the sender’s reputation.
When launching a website or an online store we realize that for better growth we should collect the desired contact list and start communicating with our users. To do this, you’ll need SMTP to send transactional emails, system notifications or promotions. The simplest mailing is the one that uses the system on which the application runs. Sending is done via the local server. If you configure your store on WooCommerce, Presta, or Magento using their built-in SMTP “by default”, the notification messages, e.g. about database sign up will be carried out in the application, by PHP mail function. Typically the SMTP used for this process will have general settings and authentication that have a crucial impact on message classification. It is worth mentioning that emails carried out in this way are usually bounced back by incoming serwer.
Generally in such cases it’s mixed traffic with a significant majority of marketing messages, as their number is always higher. So it’s possible to send emails in such a way, of course, it ‘can’ be done, however, the mixture of traffic types and basic SMTP default authentication may result in emails being sent but ending up in SPAM, or at best our transactional communication being placed in the Offers tab. Without email analytics (which you won’t find in the default SMTP solution in Magento, Presta, WordPress), you might not even know if messages were opened or clicked.
Limits imposed by hosting providers are also a serious problem: shared infrastructure has an upper limit assigned to email sends over time. Many providers publish specific numbers. CyberFolks have 5,000 emails per 24 hours for standard hosting and 10,000 emails per 24 hours for WooCommerce. If you exceed these limits, you may face blocking and your messages will never be delivered.
Hosting solutions do their best to block mailings showing any signs of unsolicited communication. If a larger sending takes place, which they consider suspicious (e.g. contact form attack), your website account may be suspended for the safety of other users. And so by having a shared SMTP solution, you may be deprived of your source of income for a while, not to mention the opportunity cost.
There are several options:
Senders have the option to use an SMTP service from their host provider, often a dedicated IP address. This way our mailings can be separated from those made by others, which is a positive change. Also, you may set slightly different limits than mailers sent from shared SMTP accounts after consulting with your vendor. However, pay a close attention to whether the web host has agreements with inbox providers, especially Polish ones. Without them it’s hard to have the best deliverability in the case of high-volume mailings. Besides, with such a solution it’s difficult to improve deliverability as we have nothing to rely on, there is no email analytics, you can’t monitor how many messages have been opened and when, what users click on, or if they mark messages as spam, etc.
With EmailLabs’ SMTP your mailings won’t be blocked by your web host or mailbox provider. As we specialize in email, you can be sure the infrastructure provided is warmed up with reliable, high-quality traffic. A panel for monitoring campaign results is also included in the plan. Message logs account for a valuable source of information, especially in the case of transactional emails; you may grant your support team access to the logs, who may check exactly what happened with the client’s message and when, based on his email address. If you don’t know how to authorize your emails (SPF, DKIM, DMARC), you can always contact us for help.
Mailers interested in building their own sending reputation, analyzing detailed reports and logs, are encouraged by hosting services to test solutions specializing in deliverability. This is why CyberFolks and EmailLabs have formed a long-term partnership to synergistically complement each other in these areas. At EmailLabs you get dedicated SMTP, comprehensive reporting, but most importantly we make sure that the traffic coming from our domains is constantly at the highest level. For security purposes, if an uncontrolled attack on your www site occurs, we will suspend such sends, but your website or e-store, will continue to operate.
The process is really simple. In fact, experts of your hosting company may give you the best suggestions on how to set up a third-party SMTP, including the one from EmailLabs. Alternatively, you can connect your own application or website with external tools. For example WordPress has plugins to enable SMTP , PrestaShop has such options in the panel settings. Similarly, there is the PHPMail library, where you have to configure such integrations yourself. Generally, web servers send mail via PHP’s mail() function (local mail, non-modifiable as it doesn’t support authentication), so if you want to send via SMTP, you’ll need to configure your site anyway, regardless of whether you’re using your web host’s mailbox or a third-party provider.
For example, if Adam N. owns a website and wants to send emails to his customers from it (e.g. purchase confirmation e-mails), he needs to configure email settings first in his store, just like he would do it in Outlook or Thunderbird. Otherwise, the mail will be sent, but in a very limited, basic version through the mail() function. In PHP, and many other languages, the configuration must be done from a library that is responsible for SMTP communication.
Hosting companies provide great solutions for purchasing and configuring domains, optimizing website loading time, supporting online businesses with enhanced security, creating and storing backups, as well as providing helpful website builders. They do this brilliantly, which is proven by their NPS satisfaction survey results (choose companies that consciously brag about their results of this survey). However, it’s impossible to do everything, and these vendors don’t specialize in email sending, focus on reputation building, or directing transactional emails to the main inboxes. One may even say that users sending hundreds of thousands of emails a month via in-house solutions of hosting companies are more likely to refer to outsourced tools specializing in such and larger volume of mailings.
Service specialization does its job, and those using dedicated IPs along with an end-to-end service in the area of deliverability and analytics will experience a significant improvement. Furthermore, having fixed servers allows mailers to set up dedicated authentications and configure new technological innovations to increase opens, clicks, and ultimately conversions. If your provider is unable to provide you with a static IP address just for your sends, be sure to contact EmailLabs.
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