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I have been given a task to setup email management and delivery for a smallish social network. We're currently sending out about 1000 emails per day with help of VerticalResponse (a bulk emailing company). But for flexiblility reasons and to save costs in long term we now plan to setup our own systems.

I know how to send mails using PHP (a mix of PHPList and custom emails using SwiftMailer, and then we have pear packages Mail Queue etc.). But I don't understand the SMTP relay part. How should I setup the mail transfers. Please suggest mail server options that I have. Assume that I will need to send around 5000 personalized emails per day.

Think of any social network here, I get email notifications for friend requests, messages, buzzes, a weekly email digest etc. Please suggest.

For example I get facebook emails from facebookmail.com and linkedin emails from bounce.linkedin.com. Even I would want to do it that way.

is this what I'm looking for? http://www.dyndns.com/services/mailhop/outbound.html

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The information on the DynDNS page you linked looked accurate. If you intend to try and handle this mail flow yourself rather than outsourcing it to another organization that specializes in mail management, mail marketing, or both you have some homework ahead of you. The services advertised might alleviate some of this, but not nearly all.

Just off the top of my head you will need to be on top of your DNS and IP addressing (SPF, domain keys, reverse lookup), create accounts with and communicate regularly with the admin teams of the major mail providers (AOL, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc), make nice with the various blacklists, comply with all laws and regulations in the various jurisdictions you might work in or send mail into, proactively handle any complaints and still expect to get blocked or blacklisted from time to time and be able to handle that as well.

The above is based on my experience as a mid-level admin at a large web hosting company where we managed customer mail servers and worked with our own mail admins to solve customer problems and route complaints.

hth, adric

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Thanks for the info. I think I would want to outsource atleast the SMTP relay part. Can you suggest/recommend me a few nice companies other than DynDNS?? –  Arpit Tambi Sep 28 '09 at 10:02
    
I'm sorry I don't know of any company that will offer that as a standalone service (I'd be a bit suspicious of any that were willing). Your ISP may offer the service, as might a DNS service provider, a mail service provider, or even your telephone company depending on location. Your other option is to rent a server with admin access, such as a VPS or colocated server, and set up the relay yourself using standard software (postfix et al). This would also require some technical skills with servers and mail. –  adric Sep 28 '09 at 17:11
    
DynDNS said they don't accept large accounts, and godaddy doesn't offers such services. I'm now considering authsmtp.com. Thanks for your help, it really helped me in my pursuit. –  Arpit Tambi Sep 28 '09 at 19:04

For regular tasks like mailing lists, check out http://www.phplist.com. It can handle you needs for bulk emailing, bounce handling, subscription/canceling pages and have many other customizable features.

For tracking/analysis, you can embed custom data/links in the outgoing mails, and have e.g. google analytics handle your traffic stats.

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Thanks phplist looks gr8, can you advice me on mail server? Should I go for Google Apps? –  Arpit Tambi Sep 27 '09 at 11:02
1  
You could use sendmail on e.g. the same server as Phplist. Or you could relay it over a valid account at Google (I am not sure of their policies on bulk mail). Or you could relay over at dyndns. For sender/reply addresses, you can use any domain you control the DNS records for, set up sender accounts as POP3 and have Phplist handle bounces for you. E.g. bounces@mysocialnetwork.net –  grojo Sep 27 '09 at 20:05
    
Thanks, do you think authsmtp.com is the way to go? any other you can recommend me? –  Arpit Tambi Sep 28 '09 at 10:05
    
I don't know anything about authsmtp.com, but I can see that they offer services for mailing lists. I just read up on dyndns, and they do not allow use of the service for bulk mail, lists, confirmation messages or other automated stuff. There are lot of issues as adric lists another answer. –  grojo Sep 28 '09 at 10:28

If your main business isn't sending emails, using someone else to deliver emails is a good idea - it saves you the headache of complying with all the needed standards and being in touch with the different ISPs.

In my application (Topify) I use the service of [CritSend][1] and deliver almost 1M/mo emails through them. They're very professional and the integration with them is super easy, as they provide you a plain SMTP server you send the emails through (some DNS configuration is required, but they walk you through the whole process).

[1]: http://critsend.com CritSend

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