I have a dedicated host serving a few domains I manage. I host my own email and IMAP server.
The server is at buildoneforme.com with IP address 126.96.36.199. I think reverse DNS is working:
$ host 188.8.131.52 247.81.76.144.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer buildoneforme.com.
I also run a community group with its own domain name and website (hosted on the same machine), and I'd like to run a mailman discussion list with a few hundred members.
I have set up my MTA (exim4) to send email, but I'm experiencing deliverability problems, specifically to Microsoft (e.g. hotmail.com, outlook.com).
Initially Microsoft blocked my IP address altogether, but I used a form to request that it be unblocked and my request was granted.
However, I now find that every email I send from this server is automatically put into the junk folder.
I have only sent a few test emails, no mailing list or bulk emails yet, and I've sent it to only 2 Microsoft test addresses.
I have done all the following:
- Joined Junk Mail Reporting Program
- Joined Smart Network Data Services program
- TLS is available
- No open relay (I have to authenticate to send mail via TLS)
Sent test email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following result:
SPF check: pass DomainKeys check: neutral DKIM check: pass Sender-ID check: pass SpamAssassin check: ham
I wrote to Microsoft to ask them to stop automatically marking all email from this IP address as spam, but I got a standard response including the following:
Unfortunately, after reviewing the information you provided and in compliance with our mail policies, we are unable to offer immediate mitigation for your deliverability issue. However, we have some specific recommendations for you to consider that can help you to improve deliverability over time.
This is followed by some generic recommendations which don't apply to me.
So my question is this: is it pretty much hopeless for a small operator like me to achieve good email deliverability using my own sending SMTP server? Should I just start using a 3rd-party service, like Amazon SES?
If I create lots of fake hotmail accounts and start sending to them, and then marking all mail as non-junk, will that help whitelist this IP address?
The only potential problem I can find with my setup is that I'm sending mail from a top-level domain, rather than a sub-domain, e.g. my server advertises itself as buildoneforme.com, not mail.buildoneforme.com, and the mx record is mail.buildoneforme.com (which points to the same IP address). Would this make much of a difference?