It’s been a while since we took a detour from the way we were marketing our e-commerce products. We were relying on Search Engine Marketing to sell the products but now shifted to Real-time opt-in email campaigns, starting with around 1000 email subscribers each day and slowly scaling our systems to make the number almost 1 million opt-in email campaigns each day. Although the numbers look huge, the entire process demanded a lot of hard work from all of us. From capturing the optin email data from website to segmenting them and sending the emails to relevant groups- every bit of it was a backbreaking work at our end.
When we started off, we had lengthy discussions on the best and reliable way to reach out the mass via email campaigns. The talks would go on round the clock as we kept on exploring new options. We expanded our research to every possible horizon- from Google Feedburner automated emails, MailChimp, SendinBlue, GetResponse, Aweber and then extended our research to Transactional email service providers like Aritic Mail, Mandrill, Sendgrid, Mailgun and much more.
We were also actively searching for a one-stop solution and thus searched for “Best Email Campaign Software”, “Email Marketing Tools”, “Email Automation Tools“. To get better results we refined our search and came to know about SMTP Servers. Eager to find out more, we started learning more on SMTP servers and finally landed on websites, left contacts and now, here we are- their sales representatives are still following us religiously!
Start with Google Feedburner Automated Emails Updates:
No doubt the acquired product of Google serves quite well for newbies when it comes to sending regular updates to the opt-in newsletter subscribers. For this, you just need to verify and configure Google Feedburner correctly followed by putting a simple subscription box on a website. Next, everything is taken care by Feedburner itself, from Double Opt-in email list verification to sending updates to the opt-in subscribers as soon as the blog is updated with a new post.
However, in our case, we tried to tweak this email campaign to the next level by applying various themes to our WordPress RSS setup. Our aim here was to get the desired look and feel in the emails. After trying many options, we finally succeeded in doing so. It continued for the next few months- we kept on iterating with our themes. However, we started to realize the need of new requirements like easy email opt-in process for website users. With this need in hand, Google Feedburner was not enough as we were unable to add our list of subscribers to Google Feedburner Email List. Thus, we moved ahead to find a better solution.
Lack of Ease to add new subscribers to an email list and Limited Control over Email Updates made us look for a new solution.
Using MailChimp to Send Email Campaigns:
Poised with the need of adding our subscriber list manually in email campaigns, we turned to Mailchimp- an easy to use email marketing automation solution. We configured MailChimp according to our needs to use it on a regular basis.
Very soon we crossed the limit of the minimum number of free opt-in subscribers at MailChimp and hence, shifted to a paid account. Having a paid account opened up various new features that we started applying in our email campaigns. Starting from using separate mail campaigns for the different list of subscribers, MailChimp also gave easy to use Email Campaign Editor, which I feel is the best in class for the marketers.
Growing need for Sending Email Campaigns to the new list of Subscribers made us search for new email marketing tools.
As days passed, our opt-in list of email subscribers kept on increasing by leaps and bounds, thereby increasing the number of emails being sent out. Consequently, MailChimp was becoming costly for us. Moreover, our marketing team started to feel restrictions with editors. At last, we put our foot down and decided to look for a new solution that will be feasible in every way.
Cost: $297 for 30,000 Subscribers a Month
Using Mailerlite to Cut Down Cost of Email Marketing Campaigns:
As we were on the hunt for the best workable solution, we chanced upon Mailerlite ( detail review of MailerLite ) , which came around to be 12 times cheaper Mailchimp alternative. Not just that, it had similar Email Editor for creating effective email marketing campaigns. For two months we used its paid subscription, but due to its limited point-based subscription, we had to stop using this email marketing solution.
Limitation on adding New Subscribers and removing old one, made us search for in-house email marketing setup.
Cost: $297 for 30,000 Subscribers a Year.
An Experience with Interspire Email Marketer Software:
Interspire is the last email marketing tool which we tried on a shared SMTP server through a local reseller. Although everything was fine, after few campaigns we found, that all the Gmail emails are landing in spam. On further analysis, we concluded that this was an issue with email reseller. On further research on the internet, we got the same response from everywhere, pointing to the reseller and the IP address.
Interspire Email Marketer Suite is a complete solution for Email Marketer if you can afford to set up and maintain own SMTP Server.
After going through this bad experience, we thought of buying the Interspire Email Marketer suite and deploy it on our SMTP server. This made us understand many in-depth facts regarding setting up our SMTP server. We needed to afford a VPS Server along with IP addresses and installation of PowerMTA, with DMARC, ADSP, EHLO to send about 1,500,000 emails per month. New terms also popped into our analysis, like IP rotation and IP warm up.
Cost: $45 for 100,000 emails.
Experience with Sendy over Amazon SES – Simple Email Service:
It’s been almost four months now we are using Amazon SES, and we didn’t face the need of making a shift. This made me sit down and write about our experiences in the last eight months. To be honest, this email marketing solution that we are using at present is an ideal solution, and frankly, I knew about it all along the past one and half year. Yes, I am talking about the PHP software Sendy, which can be configured with Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to send out emails in bulk.
Although I knew about this software, I never actually gave it a try. The reason for this was, I always had a perception that Amazon SES emails will straight land in the spam folder. I had read somewhere- Since Amazon SES is not pricey at all, a lot of spammers are using it for sending spam email campaigns. I am sure by now you have figured out what kind of emails I am talking about here!!
Two months back, I decide to take the plunge bought Sendy License from their website, installed it on my favorite DigitalOcean SSD Cloud Server in about 20 minutes’ time.
Followed by successful installation of Sendy on $10 Cloud Server, I followed Sendy Get Started Guide to setup, SPF and DKIM records for the domain name. Here I faced an issue with DigitalOcean DNS service; I was not able to verify DKIM, that’s why I shifted the DNS Service to Cloudflare.
Installation of Sendy is quite easy.
After completing DKIM verification of domain name, I went ahead to set up, bounce and complaint handling setup with Amazon SNS, followed by configuring the Sendy PHP files in Amazon SES Domain Notification Settings.
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Cost: $10 for 100,000 E-mails and $10 for Server per month.
Finally, we were allowed to send 140 emails per second, and we were successful in sending a Million mail in about 8-9 Hours.
Cost: $100 for 1,000,000 E-mails and $20 for Server per month.
Cons: Need very high technical setup knowledge.
Update: Yes, we worked a lot in technology to upgrade them to send emails at such high speed. Now after 3 months we have shifted our setup to our EasySendy, which provides Sendy Installation and Hosting. What we liked most about EasySendy is that it helped us to setup Sendy with a single click and then afterward their support team took care of everything.
GDPR update: Amazon SES is a part of AWS, and as per their website, AWS is compliant with GDPR. Additionally, AWS has ensured that it will provide all the required resources and platforms to their customers to help them comply with GDPR.
Sending More than 1 Million Opt-in Emails with High Speed:
When we started using Sendy with Amazon SES, we were given production access and then a daily limit of 25,000 emails per day. Now with increasing need of sending email campaigns to a big list of double opt-in email subscribers, we requested AWS to increase the daily limits along with increasing limit on emails sent per second, which was initially ten emails per second.
This New Year and Christmas festive season we got a request to send mass mail to a list of more than 1 Million opt-in subscribers. We accepted the challenge and took changes required accordingly. First, we got confirmation from Amazon SES team that they have increased our daily quota, followed by upgrading our account from Sendy Hosting to our EasySendy application which supports Amazon SES integration and higher email sending speed with large email subscriber list holding capacity. We signed up for EasySendy Drip plan for our email marketing campaigns.
With multiple email delivery servers, we got an ability to split test email deliveries across the relay servers and check reports, track email clicks, opens of each email campaign. EasySendy Drip also has a smart autoresponder and advanced email list segmentation based on subscriber interactions, among other amazing features.
Delivering email through multiple servers improved our email inbox delivery and enhanced email open rate, which finally resulted in improved ROI on email marketing. Some of the other features which we also used:
- Web forms for email capture
- Custom subscriber pages
- Email template editor
- Custom fields, tags, and filters
- Tracking domain setup
- Auto bounce and complaint handling setup
- RSS/JSON feed emails
- API, Google Analytics, and WordPress integration
During setup with EasySendy Drip, we did a proper setup of SPF, DKIM and DMARC records on our sending domain name. Apart from this we also added our sending domain name to Google Postmasters, having all these setups correctly along with valid tracking domain name setup, our email open rate further improved.
Cost: EasySendy Drip pricing plan depends on the total number of opt-in email subscribers. All paid plans have unlimited email sending feature. Pricing starts at $9/month for 3,000 subscribers. It is free up to 1,000 subscribers.
EasySendy Drip plan for advanced drip email marketing
EasySendy Drip plan that aims at improving your overall email marketing experience. It is free up to 1,000 subscribers.
We also wanted to build a clean email list. The Drip plan has a host of popup form templates (250+ almost) which can be embedded anywhere on the website. These forms (on exit, on scroll, reCaptcha forms, inline forms) are a good starting point to get subscribers. You can customize them as per your business needs, brand color palette, and make it relevant to your business proposition. These forms also have the option to add social subscription buttons to speed up the subscription process for your website visitors. Also, these forms capture new email subscribers and automatically update the contact database. So, it becomes really easy to start with the nurturing campaigns right away.
We were not just sending loads of emails, we were sending behavior-based and event-based emails on EasySendy Drip. We created a simple two-three series of email sequences that were highly targeted. With behavior-based segmentation and event-based email campaign triggers, our drip campaigns were hyper-targeted which gave us more engagement rates. Add to this, since third-party email lists and cold emailing are not supported, our email sending reputation was safe.
We liked the ease of use when it comes to the email campaign builder on EasySendy Drip. It is simple and flexible. It is a drag and drop editor that comes with a host of actions, decisions, and conditional triggers. You can add subscriber scores, use advanced email filters and tags, include autoresponders within your campaign, and create relevant email drip series. We have been running drip series for some time now. The flexibility of modifying or updating the campaign while its live has helped us improve our email campaign performances.
When it comes to choosing email delivery servers, we recommended Aritic Mail and Amazon SES primarily.
In conclusion, we can say: Amazon SES is all about email delivery. EasySendy Drip incorporates the delivery part of Amazon SES along with advanced email marketing features. Hence, we had the best of both in EasySendy Drip. 🙂
PS: We will keep updating this blog with our experiences regularly.
Update: EasySendy team always recommends to send consent and permission-based emails to the opt-in list of email subscribers. EasySendy platform complies with the GDPR law for European customers, citizens, and subscribers. You can find complete detail on GDPR compliance here.
Safe Email Marketing Tips:
Until now our experience with Amazon SES is excellent and one thing I must mention is that Amazon is very serious about the use of Simple Email Service. During the first week, our account was put on probation, and we needed to clarify everything like the business, why our customers have opted for email and how we are handling the subscription and un-subscription of emails. Every bit was specified and laid down clearly. Finally, they cooperated with us to give us complete access again.
Here are some points you should always keep in mind while using Amazon SES Service:
- Always keep watch on Bounce Rate.
- Don’t try to send any e-mail advertisements.
- Getting Email Marked as Spam, is quite dangerous, keep watch.
- Configure proper SPF, DKIM, DMARC records to your sending domain name.
- Add your Sending domain name to Google Postmasters and Microsoft SNDS.
- Add your own tracking domain name that will appear on links in the email template.
- To increase the deliverability of email don’t use spam sensitive words and/or lot of symbols.
- Always maintain text to image and text to link ratio.
- Avoid using external links in the e-mail campaign.
I will discuss more on how to avoid emails marked as spam and increase the deliverability of emails in the mailbox, in coming posts.
If you need help on installation or have any question feel free to leave the feedback below.
Update: Until now we have received 49% Open Rate and is increasing slowly with time.