Email Marketing - Own server Vs Third Party

31 replies
Hi all,

We use a few of the usual names for email marketing and follow up sequences but I am interested in peoples thoughts on the main advantages of using a third party to send marketing emails versus your own solution hosted on a dedicated server?

It's pretty easy to build a basic web app that will send an HTML/Text email to a list of addresses, allow unsubscribing, track opens/bounce etc so what are the key benefits to paying someone else to manage this?

People talk about better deliverability because larger email marketing companies have infrastructure to support sending multiple emails and getting them delivered. But is it that much better than sending via your own server? is it more the fact you can pay a small amount of money to use a fully developed, tested and maintained system and have no hassle of managing yourself?

I am keen to know what the key differences are and also what the main barriers to entry are to anyone developing there own email marketing solution aside from the software development costs.

Thanks for any feedback.
#email #marketing #party #server
  • Profile picture of the author ScouterGuy
    Hey, I was investigating this myself a while ago. There is actually a lot of useful information about this on WF already. I suggest you search the forum for more info, but here are some of the posts I found interesting:

    They all say self-hosted email is the devil. Is it really?
    Best Hosted Autoresponder?
    Use an Email Service? or Run Your Own Bulk Email Software?
    Email List / Autoresponder

    PS. Sorry, I cant link to them as I don't have enough posts but I am sure you will find them on your own.
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  • If you make you own then I see the purpose but why create more stress in your life. I really like Prosperitycentral it is more than just an auto responder.

    I tried to use instantcustomer.com but last I checked I was closed to new customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author skyline34
    Thanks for the links guys I'll check them out.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanmilligan
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    Aweber will probably be the most common suggestion. But do whatever the hell you want!

    It's up to you. After all being unique is literally the quickest way to success.
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    • Profile picture of the author Boogie40
      I really like Aweber because it's It's external, so obviously no load on your server. Plus, you just setup the campaign and select the form, no fiddling with the code if you don't have a clue about design and programming.
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      • Profile picture of the author stevenfabian
        Originally Posted by Boogie40 View Post

        I really like Aweber because it's It's external, so obviously no load on your server. Plus, you just setup the campaign and select the form, no fiddling with the code if you don't have a clue about design and programming.
        Exactly! Don't create too many distractions in your life, focus on what you're the best at: YOUR business and your clients' needs!

        Cheers,
        Edward
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  • Profile picture of the author AllanJames
    Originally Posted by skyline34 View Post

    Hi all,

    We use a few of the usual names for email marketing and follow up sequences but I am interested in peoples thoughts on the main advantages of using a third party to send marketing emails versus your own solution hosted on a dedicated server?

    It's pretty easy to build a basic web app that will send an HTML/Text email to a list of addresses, allow unsubscribing, track opens/bounce etc so what are the key benefits to paying someone else to manage this?

    People talk about better deliverability because larger email marketing companies have infrastructure to support sending multiple emails and getting them delivered. But is it that much better than sending via your own server? is it more the fact you can pay a small amount of money to use a fully developed, tested and maintained system and have no hassle of managing yourself?

    I am keen to know what the key differences are and also what the main barriers to entry are to anyone developing there own email marketing solution aside from the software development costs.

    Thanks for any feedback.
    I see several advantages of a great 3rd party provider:

    1) Deliverability - they have large staffs devoted to making sure your mail goes through.

    2) You avoid any spam complaints coming back directly to you company - or your ISP blocking you.

    3) Less stress - let others do 'the dirty work' while you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    4) Simplicity - your own hosting is complex.
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    • Profile picture of the author BDubbels
      The most common issue I see when people manage their own email server is a lack of list hygiene.

      What tends to happen is users forget to sign up for things like feedbackloops (or just don't parse results properly form them) and frequently don't have a large enough bounce definition database to properly unsubscribe hard bounces (or repeated soft bounces) on the fly.

      What then happens is emails bounce repeatedly at the same address, causing reputation issues at many smaller hosts (a major problem in the B2B market as most businesses don't use large mail providers like Yahoo or Gmail).

      Also, if you do decide to manage your own mailing stream, be sure to sign up for feedback loops with all of the major providers and then parse the results correctly to unsubscribe.

      Otherwise you'll continue mailing to complainers and either have messages rack up complaints every time you send to that person or just have your mail go straight to their spam box, lowering your reputation without your knowledge.

      You can find a list of rate limits and feedbackloop sign up forms here:
      ISP Summary Information - Wttw

      The links are a bit out of date but most of them are still relevant/correct.

      There are a ton of other deliverability concerns but if you get these set up along with SPF/DKIM authentication it would definitely be a solid starting point.

      more info on SPF:
      Sender ID Framework SPF Record Wizard

      Once setup be sure to check your IPs reputation from time to time at senderscore.org and Cisco IronPort SenderBase Security Network so you can see how the IP is performing and access any changes that need to be made!


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      • Profile picture of the author Joseph G Spiteri
        I would advise against hosting the autoresponder yourself at least in the beginning. There are just to many variables to take into account.
        When you've got a lot more experience then think about it. (I asume your new to this that's why your asking the question if not i apologize)
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by skyline34 View Post

    the main advantages of using a third party to send marketing emails versus your own solution hosted on a dedicated server?
    Getting your emails delivered, figuring out why they don't, and fixing it... is someone else's problem.

    Of course, it's possible they still don't care and won't fix it. But at least they might do something, since at the very least they know how.
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  • Profile picture of the author skyline34
    Thanks all, I've used a lot of third party systems but the interest has come from wanting some custom auto responder and list management tools designed. That then led to the current investigation of whether it's feasible to actually design/manage our own custom system so we have ultimate control over everything.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      There is a price point where it perhaps is more feasible to have AR software hosted on a dedicated server. For example, almost all functions I use are available on any of the standard commercial providers. But the comparative expense of self-hosting is offset by the nearly prohibitive expense of handling large lists on commercial providers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
      Originally Posted by skyline34 View Post

      Thanks all, I've used a lot of third party systems but the interest has come from wanting some custom auto responder and list management tools designed. That then led to the current investigation of whether it's feasible to actually design/manage our own custom system so we have ultimate control over everything.
      It's possible to buy some self-hosted autoresponder software
      that's already been created - rather than going to the time
      and expense of developing your own custom solution.

      One of the main advantages of having a self-hosted solution
      is the one you've mentioned: CONTROL.

      There are self-hosted autoresponder softwares like Interspire
      and others that allow you to host your own autoresponder
      and use an external SMTP server like SMTP.com to actually
      deliver the e-mails.

      That way, you still retain the control of your list database
      and have more freedom on what smtp servers you use to
      deliver your e-mails.

      In contrast, with a third-party autoresponder service your
      list database is housed by them and they determine what
      smtp server will be used to send your e-mails.

      Dedicated to mutual success,

      Shaun
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  • Profile picture of the author wheckitup
    Get your own vps and dedicated with Interspire and correct spf,dkim,rdns etc setup and you are ready to go (only if your quantity is bulk)
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  • Profile picture of the author Dann Vicker
    If you only have a small list, it wouldn't be wise to do this with self-hosted solutions. I'd advise you go for this only your list is up to 50,000 and such
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    • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
      Originally Posted by Dann Vicker View Post

      If you only have a small list, it wouldn't be wise to do this with self-hosted solutions. I'd advise you go for this only your list is up to 50,000 and such
      Bollocks.

      The size of your list is not a significant factor in whether
      or not you should go the self-hosted vs the third-party
      autoresponder route.

      What practical experience of self-hosted autoresponders
      do you actually have?

      Dedicated to mutual success,

      Shaun
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      • Profile picture of the author Chris Worner
        Originally Posted by Dann Vicker View Post

        If you only have a small list, it wouldn't be wise to do this with self-hosted solutions. I'd advise you go for this only your list is up to 50,000 and such
        Originally Posted by Shaun OReilly View Post

        Bollocks.
        Hear Hear!

        The single greatest advantage of a self hosted AR (apart from the control you have) is that you no longer have to worry about the antics of others who may be sharing your email server whos actions could easliy effect your own delivery rate.

        Costing you a lot of money.

        Your also less of a target for hackers than the big AR companies.

        -Chris
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    Really just based upon your volume, if your volume is high enough some companies may force you to purchase your own server.
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  • Profile picture of the author BeechHill
    Shaun, I believe, is basically correct. The only thing to really consider is your initial investment in the autoresponder self hosted software and the cost of using a service like SMTP.com. The beauty of the latter is that you only pay for the amount of email service you use.
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  • Profile picture of the author BIG Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author VaultBoss
      I'm with BIG Mike (see above) on this one...

      I have started my first self-hosted AR 4yrs+ ago and never looked back since, only forward.

      I like to keep my assets (my email lists in this case) close to my chest... not in anybody else's hands, no matter how reputable they would be (even the best of the best can be hacked... it is not a matter of if, but rather when)

      Not to mention the fantastic options you have in playing with your lists, segmenting, etc... VERY powerful stuff.

      I agree, it is not for the wet-behind-the-ears IMer though... too many techie things they not only wouldn't know how to solve, but they wouldn't even think about in the first place.

      For the more advanced marketers, though, going self-hosted is just sound business practise, IMHO.

      A good middle-path would be to self host the software/script itself, but use a 3rd party SMTP relay service when you start.. that would take care of most issues regarding deliverability, tech-wise.

      However, the sender's reputation would still be in your sole hands - act like a spammer and your deliverability suffers EVEN when using 3rd party ARs.

      Using AW or GR is NOT going to Inbox one's emails if they are spam-ish... or worse.
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    • Profile picture of the author skyline34
      Originally Posted by BIG Mike View Post


      I've been self-hosting email for years without any real significant problems (had some issues with MS Live/Hotmail that did get resolved).
      Do you use a purchased solution to manage contacts and send emails or did you develop your own Mike?
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  • Profile picture of the author Wendy Maki
    One of the reasons I use a larger email service provider is that they dialogue with companies/organizations like spam filters to ensure deliverability. One less big headache for me, assuming I'm doing the right thing (spamwise) to begin with.
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  • Profile picture of the author emrom
    If you are just building a list...then aweber will work. But when you start getting to 5-10K a week or more, you need a third party. A good bulk emailing service is worth their weight in gold!!! Here is why, as your needs get bigger or if you want to buy a list and run a large campaign you need to not burn out your ip address. Large emailing services send out large amounts of email over several servers and several ip addresses. One horse ip addresses get blacklisted as spam...sometimes just from sending to much email at once. If you have a large email need, email me at 360 Marketing Pros at gmail. No set prices...we look at what you want to do...and work with your budget, needs.
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    • Profile picture of the author flamingids
      Nice. Use a third party when you mailing list has 10000 subscribers.
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  • Profile picture of the author WarriorDiscount
    i prefer a third party because it can create a huge list and deliver it without any problem
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  • Profile picture of the author skyline34
    I like the idea of having far more control. We recently wanted to create some more graphical ways of organising follow up sequences in aweber but after contacting them unfortunately their API wouldnt give us enough control.

    The technical side is not an issue, what IS an issue like with anything is we don't know half the pitfalls or things to watch out for when delivering emails which of course comes with experience.

    At the moment the ideal would be we create the software and someone else does the delivering.
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  • Profile picture of the author bobby_shahzad
    I would say go with your own hosted email solution for the following reason

    1. You own your data and can be sure it willl never be compromised.
    2. You have control over your software
    3. You can import data without reverification
    4. You can backup your data just like you can backup other sites
    5. Your account will never be banned for just few complaints here and there


    So it is much better too have your own email server than having third party. Just make sure your email server is configured with following

    Multiple IP addresses that can be rotated
    SPF
    domain Key
    RDNS
    Feedback loop

    I know it sounds much technical but any email server admin with right kind of knowledge should be able to configure all these things same day.
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  • Profile picture of the author gojiberryman
    Originally Posted by skyline34 View Post

    Hi all,

    We use a few of the usual names for email marketing and follow up sequences but I am interested in peoples thoughts on the main advantages of using a third party to send marketing emails versus your own solution hosted on a dedicated server?

    It's pretty easy to build a basic web app that will send an HTML/Text email to a list of addresses, allow unsubscribing, track opens/bounce etc so what are the key benefits to paying someone else to manage this?

    People talk about better deliverability because larger email marketing companies have infrastructure to support sending multiple emails and getting them delivered. But is it that much better than sending via your own server? is it more the fact you can pay a small amount of money to use a fully developed, tested and maintained system and have no hassle of managing yourself?

    I am keen to know what the key differences are and also what the main barriers to entry are to anyone developing there own email marketing solution aside from the software development costs.

    Thanks for any feedback.
    In my opinion, I think that a great purchase you can make in order to support the "Own server" option would have to be Send Blaster Pro. Send Blaster Pro is my number one secret weapon when it comes down to email marketing because there is no limit on the amount of emails you send to.

    Also, if you have a purchased list of subscribers, you can go on ahead and paste those suckers in there and bam! You got yourself a ton of cash waiting to be withdrawn. But please... if you plan on purchasing a list, make sure you offer them FREE stuff at first and treat them like human being not just numbers.

    If you follow these rules you will find that your reward for being genuine will pay off in the end. I hope this helps
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  • When I started I had my own server, but have been using third party now and think it's better for you since they do the work for you to get you a better delivery rate.
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  • Profile picture of the author fdth
    If it was for someone new to the biz I'd suggest using something that works right now and has good deliverability so you have something you can depend on? You need your emails to get delivered so you can generate income.
    Then when you're making money and your list size grows and the cost starts to grow you can take a look at the options including creating your own and make a better decision.
    For someone already knee deep in and making money now, do what you want if you can maintain the same level of deliverability for the same cost or less.
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  • Profile picture of the author BettyM
    I have a dedicated server and have used Interspire with SMTP with a client's 50K list. Interspire techs only help on Interspire and SMTP works only on SMTP . . they don't really coordinate help. It was a rather painful process to set up.

    The email took 2 days to process and kept on stopping. Had to babysit the entire time so decided to try Constant Contact.

    My first mailing in 2 years had a higher then normal bounce rate and Constant Contact only wants a pristine list imported. They want to pull a little subsection of the list that is newer signups and basicly abandon about 40K names OR keep those names with SMTP until I have mailed to the old list a few times. If I move to them and don't meet their bounce % limit, my client's list will be kicked out.

    However, did learn from Constant Contact that before you blast a lot of emails to Yahoo, Gmail, etc . . . they claim you need to prior approve the email address that you will send from. Constant Contact does this. Aweber proabably does this. I don't believe SMTP did.

    Also, if you mail several times a month . . . Constant Contact is cheaper because they charge by the email accounts per month. SMTP charges by mails sent.

    Hope this helps someone.
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