Have you ever suffered from poor email deliverability? You’re using a shared server and somebody sends too much email and whole server gets backlisted. All the mail you send will go to spam folders of your customers and all notifications are missed.
I believe that has happened to most of us. And it’s not only because of a shared hosting. It can also happen to a full VPS solution as your server is new and have no reputation. Want to send 1000 emails to your customers from there? Spam folders guaranteed.
As others, I have been there also. Probably back in the crazy days I may have caused some of those shared hosting blacklistings.. Sorry. But seriously, you don’t need to send that much emails to get blacklisted when there’s no reputation.
I have encountered email sending problem multiple times. When I developed my personal stuff (basically testing it out) with Outsystems I needed to send email. Outsystems does not provide you a server to do that. But it’s more than capable to use a SMTP service if you point one to it.
Many more or less homegrown ways to circumvent the problem has been introduced. Maybe the worst was to use Gmail SMTP with my own personal credentials. Thank god the API limits were minimal. I guess I only could send something like 50 emails in a day with it.
I have googled free smtp service. Nothing really interesting pops out. They are either developer tools or then something pretty shady. Usually these free ones also actually cost something. Not something I’d like to use to contact my customers.
Mail delivery in Webfaction days
When my sites were in Webfaction’s servers sending email was not the greatest experience. Setting it up did actually require something and not all emails were delivered. Once again I was looking for something to use to deliver my emails.
At this point, it might be worth to mention that I haven’t spammed ever. It certainly starts to sound that way when reading this text. But no. I just have had clients and own customers (hundreds or thousands usually) and somewhat relevant material have been sent to them.
Anyways, when Webfaction gave me enough headache I finally found the solution. Actually many of them.
There’s plenty of those email campaign tools which you can use to send transactional emails as well. They usually provide either an API or a direct SMTP access to their service.
My favorite service is Mailjet. Developer friendly. Their main business is to deliver emails to their recepients. You cannot use it for spam (that’s a good thing). You can use either API or SMTP for transactional mails. The free tier is quite big, 6 000 emails per month. Completely free. And if you happen to need some more occasionally, you can buy more very low cost.
There’s others. I’ve also used Mailchimp. It’s more focused to campaigns and stuff but you can get your things done.
Both services allow you use templates. So, you can use their template design tools to design a template and then just use API calls to fill and send the template. And it’s always delivered to the inbox.
Of course, it takes a bit work to get these services working. Usually DNS magic is enough, so you can get security features like SPF and DKIM to work.
But My Shared Hosting Delivers Emails Just Fine!
If you’ve read this blog before you know that I’m an Opalstack fanboy. Want to know more? I’ve a post about it here. Go read it.
Anyways, there was some discussion in the forums about email deliverability and sending limits. And Opalstack is doing great work with that. No problems with deliverability at the moment. So why bother to use some other service?
A few pointers:
- Hosting providers are focusing on… hosting. Emailing services are focusing on… delivering email. Do you need more arguments?
- In case somebody’s script go crazy and spam hell out of the server, you’re fine if you’re using external email delivery service
I recommend you getting familiar with these services. They’re free for small usage and quite cheap in larger volumes as well.