Email marketing and newsletters are one of the most engaging platforms for customer contact today. With 91% of users checking their email daily and 58% using email first before anything else in the morning, its impossible to ignore. This guide will explain how to can do your email thing, without spending huge amounts of unnecessary money that cut directly into your profits. If you use Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor or other commercial newsletter companies, this tutorial can literally save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month, depending on the size of your list. So here is how to stop paying huge fees to send emails. These three examples can help you understand the power of hosting your own email provider and sending via Amazon SES.
Affiliate Disclosure: I personally use these products. I will get a small commission if you use my links to set yourself up with them. Thanks in advance.
The backbone of your email autoresponder and campaign setup. Sendy is a self-hosted, multi-functional email newsletter solution. It has all the basic needs covered (templates, lists, campaign drips and awesome reporting and tracking) and for the more technical user, it has a robust API for plugging in to your other integrations. It has a very active support community run by the founder, Ben; and the latest version 3.0.4 simplifies the setup with the Amazon SES integration. Get Sendy here.
Setting up Sendy is pretty easy. Check all the amazing features here.
Step 1> Config.php
Download Sendy using the download link in your license email, then unzip it.
In the /includes/ folder, open the file config.php file in any text or code editor
In the file you’ve just opened, set the APP_PATH (the URL where you’ve uploaded Sendy) and your MySQL credentials
Note for Beginners:
If you’ve never created a MySQL database & user before, follow this easy to follow video tutorial or this step by step guide on doing so in cPanel. If your host does not use cPanel, refer to your host’s documentation on creating a MySQL database & user.
Step 2> Upload Sendy
Note for Beginners
You can use an FTP app like Filezilla or the File Manager in your hosting control panel to upload Sendy.
Step 3> Set File Permissions for “Upload Folder”
Image, attachment and CSV uploads requires the /uploads/ folder’s permission to be set to 777.
Step 4> Install Sendy.
Visit your Sendy installation to get the installation started. For example, if you uploaded Sendy to http://yourdomain.com/sendy, visit this link to install.
Your License key is included in the email sent to you after you made your purchase.
You’ll be asked to specify your Email and Password. These will be your login credentials for Sendy.
You can fill in your AWS Access Key ID and AWS Secret Access Key later if you have not signed up for Amazon Web Services yet (we’ll cover this in the next step).
Click the Install now button to proceed.
Step 5> Sign up for Amazon Web Services (AWS) & create IAM Credentials
Once signed up, you’re ready to hook up Sendy with your AWS account. To do so, you’d need to create a pair of ‘IAM Credentials’ for your Sendy installation. Start by visiting your Amazon IAM console, then follow the instructions in the video below:
Once you’ve created your IAM credentials, copy and paste them into the installation page or your Sendy settings (under Amazon Web Services Credentials). Sendy will now have access to send your emails via Amazon SES as well as setup bounces and complaints handling with Amazon SNS.
Finally, you’ll need to request Amazon to increase your SES Sending Limits to get your Amazon SES account out of “sandbox mode”. You’ll then be able to send to and from any email address as well as raise your daily sending limits from 200 per day to any number you need.
VPS or Dedicated Server
The power behind your Sendy installation is in your VPS or Dedicated Server. Here are the basic steps you’ll need to do to set up your server for Sendy. These instructions are for Linux servers running WHM/CPanel. If you already have a VPS or dedicated server you can skip to Part 3, Amazon AWS. I recommend a server with at least 4gb of RAM to make sure it has the overhead, especially if you have lots of emails to send. Unfortunately this software works only with Linux servers, and Windows hosting/websites are not currently supported.
Step 1> Choose Your Server
I use Turnkey Internet for all my clients in the USA and recommend Liquid Web Servers for anyone in the UK and Europe. It’s usually best to pick data centers that are close to you and your customers, and these two are the best I have found. Don’t use budget crappy re-seller providers as they can have old software and security issues behind the scenes.
Step 2> Register Name Servers
When you want to send emails that originate from your domain, you need to set up name servers. How you do that depends on your domain registrar. Here are the steps with the popular registrar, NameCheap. Similar guides can be found for the other major domain registrars.
Sign into your Namecheap account.
Mouse over the Account option in the upper right corner of the page and choose Domain List or select the Domain List menu in the left sidebar:
Click on the Manage option in front of the domain name:
Click on the Advanced DNS tab and find the Personal DNS Server section > click on the Add Nameserver button:
Enter the required hostname into the Search field (e.g. “dns1.test” if you would like to register the “dns1.test.nctest.info” nameserver OR “test” if you would like to register the “test.nctest.info” nameserver, etc.). Then enter the required IP address into the IP address field:
Once done, click on the Done button.
Note About Nameservers
This will not automatically point your domain name to the registered nameservers. Once you’ve registered your nameservers, please do not forget to create the corresponding A records for them in your domain name zone file. See below.
Step 3> Add Nameservers to Your Server
1. Log into WHM and go to the DNS Functions section > Edit DNS Zone menu.
2. From the drop-down list, choose the domain you would like to set the nameservers for, click on Edit.
3. Update SOA record indicating your primary nameserver and the usable email address:
4. Then create A records for ns1.domain.com and ns2.domain.com pointing to the IP addresses you used while registering the nameservers and Save the Changes:
These changes can take 24-72 hours to take hold. Check the progress by putting the domain name into leafdns.com. Check my article on Email Deliverability here. It offers some cool tips about making sure your emails get into the inbox, where they belong.
If you didn’t set up your Amazon Account above when you were setting up Sendy, do so now. The instructions are above.
SSL Certificate – an SSL certificate can give your site more authority, trust and better SEO. You should probably have one no matter what. They go for anywhere from $9USD to $200USD per year from Namecheap, depending on what type of site you have and how much customer data needs to be collected.
Register a Domain for Emailing – depending on how you choose to set up your newsletter, it may make sense to send from a different domain than your main site. This can protect you from bad IP Address neighbors and DDoS attacks, as the VPS and Dedicated servers above all come with these protections free, built in.
That’s it! Save yourself hundreds of bucks a month by implementing your own Amazon/Sendy combo for your newsletters. It’s time you take your profits back and stop paying huge fees to send emails. If you have any questions about setting up your own system, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
Have no time or tech guy to do this for you? Call me: +353860857161 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to get a free implementation quote. No Obligation. 🙂