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SMTP Relay

Posted on 2013-11-11
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Last Modified: 2013-12-13
We currently send out about 70k-100k quotes monthly via email.

We would like to setup a smart host that will keep us out of spam boxes. These are legitimate emails. Not spam.

What smarthost or SMTP relay company is everyone using?
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Question by:OMITNJ
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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 167 total points
ID: 39640123
Not a direct answer... but spam is what the receiving party says it is.  While you can use good practices to minimize the times your email goes into spam, nothing you can do will actually prevent it.  Because it's not your choice.
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by:Kimputer
Kimputer earned 166 total points
ID: 39641453
The most obvious smart host is usually the one provided by your ISP. which means it's free and usually doesn't need authentication (because it knows your IP is in the block it should trust).
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Squinky earned 167 total points
ID: 39694760
You'll be very lucky if your ISP lets you send more than a couple of hundred messages per day. Many ISP mail servers are poorly set up (mine uses a mismatched SSL cert!), plus you'll be sharing source IPs with the great unwashed.

As Dave says, spam is what your recipients say it is, but there are a few things you can do to get into their good books. One of the hardest things to do is to establish a high-volume sending reputation (assuming you're sending from a fixed IP) - if you've been sending that kind of volume for a reasonable length of time, then you've pretty much done that. Look up your IPs on senderbase.

Next is to make sure you implement SPF and DKIM with as tight a spec as you can (i.e. with '-all' default action), and ideally DMARC too. Yahoo is by far the hardest ISP to deliver to, and having those in place can improve things dramatically. Make sure you have bounce handlers in place so that bouncing addresses get removed from your lists (and are prevented from being added back on) - persistent sending to known-bad addresses makes you look spammy. Also register with feedback loops so you can automatically remove addresses that report you as spam (which many do instead of unsubscribing), and add list-unsubscribe headers to your messages to make it easier for recipients to unsubscribe.

You can pay (a lot!) to ReturnPath to get on their white lists, and they also have good analysis tools available to check your delivery success rates.

It may be easier to use a relay like sendgrid, smtp.com or even Amazon SMS (though that's hard to ramp up volume on), but any of those will incur costs, plus you'll be going back to square one for your delivery reputation. It may still be worthwhile since they will usually have things like DKIM and bounce handling out of the box.
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Expert Comment

by:tcillcjjr
ID: 39715241
We use junkemailfilter.com as our outbound spam filter and smarthost. Their cost is reasonable (which is to say their cost is significantly less than the cost of dealing with blacklisted ip's).

Disclaimer - I am not associated in any way with junkemailfilter.com, except as a satisfied customer. If I have broken any experts-exchange rules by recommending a commercial service, then I apologize and this post should be deleted.
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