High volume · Email deliverability

Email deliverability

Jason Hofsess

May 2nd, 2013

I'm building an application that relies on high volume transactional emails to consumers. Successful delivery is crucial. How resource intensive would you generally consider the initial and ongoing investments in high deliverability would need to be?

I'm thinking in terms of such areas as:
1. how much deliverability detection to build into the platform
2. scope and frequency of deliverability testing
3. amount of initial and ongoing content testing and optimizing
4. initial and ongoing attention to blacklisting and whitelisting
5. tools and planning to detect and remediate deliverability problems, etc

Jesal Gadhia

May 2nd, 2013

Take a look at SendGrid, Postmark or Mandrill. I think those will take care of most of your needs.

Tim Trampedach Co-founder Fatberry

May 2nd, 2013

Seems like responses are getting truncated after the first paragraph, at least via email. Trying again via the comment box on the site:

Do not build this yourself. Pay someone like Sendgrid, Mailchimp (Mandrill), Mailgun, etc. The cost/benefit is probably an order of magnitude in favor of a hosted service unless you're doing millions of emails daily.

To really build this yourself you would need to:
1) Hire a fulltime *experienced* postmaster that can run an MTA and has relationships with every major email provider
2) Buy MTA software, maintain hardware and IPs for it. You can't just host this "in the cloud" on open source stuff. Maybe, but it will be highly suboptimal.
3) Build and maintain a templating engine. Make sure the templates work on every mail client. (You'd pay ReturnPath for this probably)
4) Handle unsubs and comply with CAN-SPAM. That's a big DB of permissions to maintain.
5) Figure out a way to process all the feedback loops (hard bounce, soft bounce, etc).

You're basically looking at 2-3 highly experienced engineers / postmasters to get this up and running and maintain it. Why pay all that overhead instead of being up and running in under and hour with all of the above and pay-as-you-go?

I built the email system (transactional and blaster) at Zynga and even as a company of the size of Zynga three years ago, we went with external providers initially (pre SendGrid days - the providers were not very good...). Only once we knew we had to scale beyond the limits of what a hosted service could provide did we bring the capability in-house bit by bit. Even then, it took some time to justify building a marketing blaster. When we finally did, it was really not a cost reduction, but a "better product" decision.

Tim

Brian McConnell

May 2nd, 2013

I would start by talking with the guys at Mailgun. They've had to deal with this. They offer api based email delivery (also support inbound email to http). Brian Mcc

Michael Sattler President, Splitzee

May 3rd, 2013

+1 for SendGrid or similar. I spent 10 years in the website hosting industry, where mail services were a core competency, and we spent so much time operating and managing the function we thought seriously about getting out of the business. 2-3 FTEs minimum, depending on volume and how frequently you cross paths with the spam cops. If it is a core competency for you, I'd advise hiring a relatively senior engineer who ran the function for someone like a hosting company or someone like Groupon and getting them to set it up for you. 

Stephen Peters Looking for the next challenge and opportunity

May 2nd, 2013

With these kinds of questions I suggest people work backwards. How much do you lose if delivery isn't successful? That will tell you how much to invest.

Patrick Gorry Software Development Consultant at Patrick Gorry Consulting

May 2nd, 2013

+1 for Sendgrid - I have been using them for quite some time and not had a problem.  Very easy to integrate as well.

Cheryl Tom CEO, Founder at Vain Pursuits

May 2nd, 2013

Yup, SendGrid was what we used as well. Recommend. 

Ray Dollete Tech Lead at PHENOMENON

May 4th, 2013

To clarify the above post, having your own IP allocation is a particular feature of those ESP's, not an alternative.  You still want a provider vs trying to do your own sending.

Tim Trampedach Co-founder Fatberry

May 2nd, 2013

Do not build this yourself. Pay someone like Sendgrid, Mailchimp (Mandrill), Mailgun, etc. The cost/benefit is probably an order of magnitude in favor of a hosted service unless you're doing millions of emails daily.

Michael Hanson Entrepreneur in Residence at Greylock Partners

May 2nd, 2013

Yeah, unless this is really a core competency that you need to own, I'd partner for this.  Doing it well is a company in itself.  I've worked with Mailgun and Sendgrid and had good results.