We built web applications which create a fair amount of transactional emails, such as tickets, reminders and logging messages. These emails are typically sent to end users, but most of them are also sent to users inside the client organisation, directly or via Bcc.

Our solutions are typically hosted on a web server separate from the email server and outside of the clients network.

We are finding that we have a lot of problems with email delivery to client internal staff, ie. The Bcc messages are not delivered due to spam filtering. Many of the email servers are Exchange with external add-on packages like Trendmicro, Symantec and GFI-Maxmail. Often we don't have control over the settings of the spam filters or getting around the spam filter requires to send from a specific email account - where we would rather send from the internal staff member.

I've followed Amazon SES and it appears to be a viable alternative, the cost of sending the emails certainly outweighs the effort of getting through spam filters and support requests.

Has something like Amazon SES improved anyone here on Serverfault's chances getting through spam filters? A subjective answer is fine.

You can assume that emails have non-critical content, have valid sender addresses and that SPF is setup correctly.

  • I understand what you're trying to get at, but unfortunately there isn't a good answer. Will it improve? Probably. Will it improve enough to make it worth your while? Only you have the answer to that question. – Aaron Dec 16 '11 at 0:35
  • I'd be completely happy with answers along the line of: "has worked for me" "Hasn't worked for me". Have rephrased question. – jdog Dec 16 '11 at 0:47
  • @jdog - I'm a bit surprised you accepted JonLim's answer as is; I know you asked for 'subjective', but please see my comments there for a caveat. Regarding a subjective answer, there are probably lots of users that have great success with SES as well - we happen to have no problems with similar mail patterns than you, albeit likely much less volume. Nevertheless I'm sure the listed providers would serve us perfectly fine as well - we just happen to run our infrastructure on AWS anyway, making SES an obvious candidate, and this scenario might be a serious threat for contenders of course ;) – Steffen Opel Jan 20 '12 at 1:14
  • @steffen - many thanks the rewrite is clearer, but I just didn't expect to get any further answers after many days of tumbleweed. Jonlim provided an answer I was looking for, hence the tick. I will likely try SES first in any case as I have infrastructure there. The main thing I was looking for was: "transactional email providers exist", "people use them (not for marketing emails)" – jdog Jan 20 '12 at 8:47

Amazon SES states the following in their FAQ:

Q: How does Amazon SES help ensure reliable email delivery? For high email deliverability, Amazon SES uses content filtering technologies to scan a business' outgoing email messages to help ensure that the content meets ISP standards. The email message is then either queued for sending or routed back to the sender for corrective action. To help businesses further improve the quality of email communications with their customers, Amazon SES provides a built-in feedback loop, which includes notifications of bounce backs, failed and successful delivery attempts, and spam complaints.

You also have some other alternatives to SES that, while they cost more, may give you other features that you are looking for and may need. Here's a list of other transactional email providers:

All of them have free accounts that you can kick the tires with and see which has the best deliverability for the specific types of recipient SMTP servers that are acceptable for you.

{FULL DISCLOSURE: I am the Product Manager of PostageApp. Let me know if you have any questions about any of this!)

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    -1 - I appreciate your disclosure and am not in a position to compare the quality of the named providers, however, you do not back your claim of SES deliverability not being thorough (solid data/tests anyone?). Worse though, your are quoting from their FAQ out of context, insofar that statement addresses an entirely different topic, namely email being an unreliable communication transport by definition - I highly suggest updating your post accordingly (i.e. link to the FAQ and quote it completely at least), otherwise this looks like negative marketing. – Steffen Opel Jan 20 '12 at 0:47
  • And to add some constructive criticism: I think you would gain much more trust and interest in your service, if you could explain how your company is approaching the inherent problems with email delivery and why that might yield particularly good (or even better than competitor XYZ because of <enter argument>) results regarding the question at hand. – Steffen Opel Jan 20 '12 at 0:58
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    To be clear - answers on SF are not the place to promote your company's services. If you want to advertise here, there's an advertisement program you can buy into. – EEAA Jan 20 '12 at 14:42
  • @SteffenOpel: Understood. I agree completely, that was my mistake. I will be updating my answer to clarify + give slightly more background on positioning. I apologize. – JonLim Jan 20 '12 at 16:47
  • @ErikA: While it is a slight bit of promotion, I am merely giving some other alternatives to SES, in case it isn't what they are looking for. I am sorry if it seems like all I am doing is screaming our name from the top of a mountain! – JonLim Jan 20 '12 at 16:48

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