I work for a company that heavily relies on email marketing to make money and we're running into a problem. We are trying to spin up a new email server and are finding it difficult to find a hosting company that doesn't explicitly disallow any form of mass mailing, legitimate or otherwise! Our lists are all opt-in, so the legitimacy issues aren't a problem, and we comply 100% with CAN-SPAM laws, but that doesn't seem to matter to hosting companies. Does anyone else have experience in this market? Can anyone suggest hosting companies that either support ESPs or are at least mass-mailing friendly? I've done lookups on most of the big players in the field and it seems that all of them are hosting their own equipment, which is currently cost prohibitive for us.
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closed as not constructive by mgorven, Ward, Tom O'Connor, MDMarra, gWaldo Jun 1 '12 at 0:16
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You merely need colocation space and a server in a rack. I have never seen a halfway decent colocation provider that banned any traffic types with the exception of content that was illegal in the country. You can either purchase 1U and populate it with your own server, or get a dedicated server at a monthly price.
1U us typically around $100USD and Us get cheaper in bulk. You might have to be careful with pacing your outbound mail to single mail domains because in some cases you can earn a blacklist for your entire netmask (or surrounding netmasks). As long as you're as legit as you say you are, and your MTA behaves properly with pacing $bigNum amount of emails to $singleDomain (e.g. Gmail.com) then you're fine. Perhaps balance outbound mails across multiple IP blocks on different subnets.
I decided to consult with some of my colleagues that have worked in the colocation / dedicated server sector. Apparently it's a lot more common than I thought for a colocation to take a dim view of mass mailers, no matter how legit they are. Certainly, some are more willing to work with you than others, however.
Some things to consider:
It sounds like you're asking about sending your mail through a provider's infrastructure? If so, I can't think of any providers that will allow this offhand.
TL;DR - Too much risk, not enough profit. Providers aren't going to jump at that combination.
There are providers that specialize in bulk mailing (Constant Contact is one, InVision/mindSHIFT's eBlast service is another), and you can probably find a provider that is willing to lease you a dedicated server (or host one you build) that you can use for your bulk mailing.
I have found over the last few years that when it comes to sending outbound emails, especially for mailshots, then the best answer is not to run your own mailserver, but instead to send your email via a SMTP delivery service, such as Postmark, Sendgrid or Mailchimp.
The reason for doing it this way, is manyfold. Firstly, you don't have to worry about the reputation of your IP address, especially as many providers are re-using IP addresses / IP ranges. What someone else did shouldn't have any impact on your service.
Secondly, it allows you to focus on what you do best. Making a decent webapp/etc. I presume that sending bulk emails isn't your primary business...
Thirdly, and most importantly, your time isn't consumed by figuring out bugs in mail delivery. This is especially important, because your time is more valuable to the company doing whatever it is you do best, and not figuring out the best settings for tuning a MTA.
Most smaller ISPs are going to be uncomfortable with the type of activities that you are suggesting, so one alternative is to use a cloud service provider to handle mail submission and delivery to the recipient, some examples are;
Amazon AWS (SES);