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Is Amazon SES a reputable place to send mail from

On the first installment of our Wednesday question series, I chose a question from twitter.

Can you advise is Amazon SES is a reputable place to send email from? @inkpixelspaper

This is a great question. In many cases the reputation of a provider doesn’t affect delivery, but as with almost everything in email there are exceptions and cases where a poor provider reputation may affect delivery of mail from all their customers. In almost all of the cases, though, the underlying issue is the provider not requiring good behaviour from their customers.
A common scenario is a provider (either ISP or ESP) not having the time, resources or desire to handle an abuse desk. Complaints about spam don’t get handled and ISPs and filtering companies just start blocking more and more of the IP space. More and more customers, even the ones who are sending wanted, opt-in mail find their delivery starting to suffer. Customers that have good polices start moving elsewhere. At the same time, customers that have been tossed off other providers start migrating to that provider.
This scenario is more common with shared IP addresses, where a few bad apple customers can cause problems for everyone on that IP address. But I have also seen it happen with providers who offer dedicated IP addresses, particularly if those providers move problem customers around in order to avoid blocks or filters.
What does this mean in terms of Amazon SES? It means that their reputation is dependent on how good their policies are and how well they manage their outgoing mail streams and their customers.
AmazonSES does not, apparently, have any IPs currently listed on the SBL. Senderscores for their IP addresses range from 100 down to the mid-60’s. Senderbase shows most of the IPs have a generally good reputation. This tells me if you’re sending to domains that feed into senderscore and senderbase, then you’re probably not going to have delivery problems based on Amazon’s reputation.
On a more personal note, though, we are getting quite a bit of spam from AmazonSES customers. Despite repeated complaints, Amazon appears not to be taking any action against those customers. In fact, Amazon isn’t even telling customers not to send to people who complain.
We don’t block by IP address for a number of reasons, but if we did block by IP, the AmazonSES range sends us enough spam and little enough real mail that it would probably be blocked here. This tells me that if you’re sending to small and medium sized business domains or personal domains you may have delivery problems based on Amazon’s reputation.
Ultimately, though, the public sources of information indicate that using AmazonSES may not hurt your email delivery. But, as with everything in email, TEST TEST TEST. There’s no setup fee, so set it up and see how it works for you. Test sends to your business domain, set up accounts at gmail, yahoo, hotmail and aol to test delivery to those places.
Also, know that a provider’s reputation is not static. Personnel changes, policy changes, and customer changes can all affect a provider’s reputation. A little sloppiness with handling abuse complaints or letting a customer or two slide in the short term won’t really affect delivery for other customers. Letting those things slide over the long term can hurt delivery for even good customers. Don’t assume that because a provider is good or bad today that they’ll still be good or bad in a year.
 
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Have a question you want answered? tweet them to @wise_laura or send them to laura-questions@wordtothewise.com

1 comment

  1. ram says

    google seems to not like amazon ses. Lately I have seen a lot of our customers who used Amazon all their mails were in gmail spam
    Gmail , apparently , has changed their filters. In general there are now far too many mails coming from automated systems ( triggers , notifications etc ) are all landing up in spam

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