Email Delivery Services make the task of sending massive number of emails a lot easier and more reliable. Services range from simple API’s to let you send emails that you generate yourself, up to sophisticated fully-features service that help you create rich HTML emails and also manage your email lists.
You might think that sending thousands of emails is easy, just hook up to a GMail account and start pumping them out, right? Wrong! GMail will work only for a few hundred emails. Once you go beyond that, it will complain that you are sending too many emails and start refusing to deliver your emails. You will look like a spam-bot to them, and you do NOT want GMail to think you are a spammer. It could cause you to get black-listed, and then all the emails you send will end up in the your customer’s Spam folder. Not cool.
When you need to send thousands of emails or more, you need to work with someone who knows how to deliver emails without tripping the spam traps. Your From address must be consistent (the same for all emails). All emails should originate from the same IP address. Your DNS for that server must be setup so that both a normal lookup and a reverse lookup match up. You may also want to use Domain Keys (DKIM), which is way to cryptographically validate the authenticity of an email and it’s sender. Failure to set up these things properly can cause your emails to be blocked from delivery, or to be delivered directly to the Spam folder. Setting all of this up correctly, and maintaining it, can be a lot of effort. The bottom line is, unless you are sending millions of emails, you will save both time and money by using a good Email Delivery Service.
On the simpler side, Amazon’s Simple Email Service offers a cheap and easy-to-use API for delivering emails that you generate yourself. Choose this type of service if you want to generate the actual emails yourself, and you are managing the email lists yourself also. This is ideal for a custom web site, where you are in control of everything.
On the on side of the spectrum, MailChimp offers features to create entire email campaigns for you, making it easy to author rich emails using drag & drop templates. You will pay a bit more, but if you want to use these extra services it’s far cheaper than trying to implement these yourself.