So with Mandrill going premium, what are some alternatives?

BoostN

Well-known member
I'm on Sparkpost and happy for about a year. Just missing the email notification for bounces.
The API let's you return bounce events. I'm going to make a job that calls the API to process "bounces" and then update the user table to a "bounced" state.

What do you think? They have webhooks, but since XF doesn't have an API going that route isn't really possible without a middleware to process those entries.
 

Solidus

Well-known member
I haven't searched back but anyone use postmarkapp?

Getting delivery to work is one thing.

Avoiding treatment as junk/spam is the REAL hurdle. I would pay for an application that gave me the ability to see if gmail, yahoo, ymail, AOL, or anything Microsoft (hotmail, msn, outlook, live, q, etc) placed one of my forum's message into the junk mail folder. That's the big hole here. I have to explicitly tell people to look in junk/spam (online, where the filtering happens, not in the phone or PC client) and then instruct them how to add filters or add to safe senders lists to prevent that kind of treatment

I can send out 20 emails to a guy on hotmail and he'll get them all. But then if I compose a long message with a bunch of links, that gets flagged as spam even though my SPF and DKIM and rDNS is all golden, that $#@% doesn't mean a thing apparently.
I use postmark. Really good service and nice dashboard. They sent me a shirt when I purchased credits for the time too.
 

Floyd R Turbo

Well-known member
All of these services seem to offer tracking etc but at the cost of using a tracking link which seemed to me to just cause more issues on the user end, like Thunderbird seeing it as suspicious or Anti-Virus throwing up a flag about phishing (I had both of these occur personally)

but the REAL REASON we're all doing this is to try to keep stuff out of spam/junk on gmail, hotmail, AOL, yahoo.

Until someone can show me a tool that tells me if an email that was sent ended up on junk/spam on a freebie webmail service, the fact that an email got delivered doesn't tell me much.

If an email gets clicked, yeah that tells me something.

If I can see how many mails to yahoo or hotmail didn't get clicked, that gives me an idea of what went to junk/spam.

But there's no substitute for training users with these account about how to keep on top of junk/spam. For instance, XF notices. Make one for people who register with Hotmail telling them how to use the Safe Senders list. For gmail and yahoo, filter. for AOL, suggest therapy.
 

Sim

Well-known member
The API let's you return bounce events. I'm going to make a job that calls the API to process "bounces" and then update the user table to a "bounced" state.

What do you think? They have webhooks, but since XF doesn't have an API going that route isn't really possible without a middleware to process those entries.
No - that won't work, you can't make an API call to get bounce notifications - they come in via an inbound webhook to your website.

What's more - notifications happen in bulk and can come at any time - and there will only ever be one notification (unless you return a failure code in which case it retries several times before giving up), so if you can't process it or time out while processing the notifications, you'll miss data.

The recommendation from SparkPost for handling bounce notifications is to separate the webhook data reception from the webhook data processing. In other words, your webhook endpoint simply accepts the data and stores it somewhere (ie database) and then returns success to SparkPost so it knows you got it. Then a separate process runs on a cron to process the bounce notifications and update XF.

If you try to process the inbound webhook data at the time you actually receive it, you run the risk of timing out or choking on unexpected data and thus the entire batch will fail, causing all sorts of issues.

I actually have a solution for SparkPost bounce processing I've been running for several years now which has been working well - but it's a little complicated to set up and the webhook endpoint is actually a Laravel application which simply stores the data in a database with a separate process to actually send the data from Laravel to XF via a webhook I built into my SparkPost XF addon.

I haven't made any of this publicly available because I think there's a few too many moving parts and I have no real interest in supporting it. I am currently porting it all to XF2 for use across all of my own sites and may reconsider releasing it (most likely as a paid addon because of the time it has taken to develop it).
 
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BoostN

Well-known member
Thanks Sim! It was just an idea after finding the Sparkpost API..

I actually have a solution for SparkPost bounce processing I've been running for several years now which has been working well - but it's a little complicated to set up and the webhook endpoint is actually a Laravel application which simply stores the data in a database with a separate process to actually send the data from Laravel to XF via a webhook I built into my SparkPost XF addon.
That's a great idea. I've worked with Laravel a little bit, so perhaps I will build my skills up more and then make use of it on my site.
 
We're looking to swap our free mailing service to a paid one. We have approximately 2.000 users on our forum (relatively new community) that we want to be able to send mails to (for urgent issues) but our free provider... kind of dies with the XenForo mass-mailing. It processes a few hundred and then locks out our mailing account (prompting us to upgrade to a package that's too overkill for us cause we're a kind of hobbyist community with no income).

I've read this topic but loads of providers changed their offerings by now (for the worse or better?), is there a definitive list of easy to use & not too expensive providers? I checked out Amazon SES but I saw that some people have issues with spam folders. I'd love it if the provider could easily integrate with the XF mail bounce feature and potentially give us a few statistics here and there in their dedicated mailing panel + maybe allow us to host multiple emails for individual staff members.

Any suggestions are welcome.
 
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Mr Lucky

Well-known member
Update, I'm now using mailgun and so far looking good.
Correction, now looking bad. Lots of fails with mailgun due to IP:

Server response: 522 email sent from 184.173.153.38 found on industry IP blacklists on 2018/02/26 22:40:10 GMT, please contact your mail sending service or use an alternate email service to send your email. Guide for bulk senders www.bt.com/bulksender
 

Sim

Well-known member
Correction, now looking bad. Lots of fails with mailgun due to IP:

Server response: 522 email sent from 184.173.153.38 found on industry IP blacklists on 2018/02/26 22:40:10 GMT, please contact your mail sending service or use an alternate email service to send your email. Guide for bulk senders www.bt.com/bulksender
That's fairly normal for any service using shared IP addresses - especially with BT related services which are particularly finicky (and overly zealous) with these things in my experience.

If you're sending enough emails each month (minimum 100K, preferably 200K+), it would be worth paying for your own dedicated IP address and carefully warming it up to improve your deliverability.
 

snoopy5

Well-known member
....

Until someone can show me a tool that tells me if an email that was sent ended up on junk/spam on a freebie webmail service, the fact that an email got delivered doesn't tell me much.

If an email gets clicked, yeah that tells me something.

If I can see how many mails to yahoo or hotmail didn't get clicked, that gives me an idea of what went to junk/spam.

....

I've read this topic but loads of providers changed their offerings by now (for the worse or better?), is there a definitive list of easy to use & not too expensive providers? I checked out Amazon SES but I saw that some people have issues with spam folders. I'd love it if the provider could easily integrate with the XF mail bounce feature and potentially give us a few statistics here and there in their dedicated mailing panel + maybe allow us to host multiple emails for individual staff members.

Any suggestions are welcome.
Do not get fooled by the providers. No matter how cheap they seem at the beginning, as sooon as they have more arket share, they will increase the prices. This was with each of the cheap offers in the pst and this will not end in the future.

I can recommend phplist. Not the service. I mean the free open source software (www.phplist.org). You get basically all what you are looking for and it will stay free, no matter how many emails you send out daily ;)




Correction, now looking bad. Lots of fails with mailgun due to IP:

Server response: 522 email sent from 184.173.153.38 found on industry IP blacklists on 2018/02/26 22:40:10 GMT, please contact your mail sending service or use an alternate email service to send your email. Guide for bulk senders www.bt.com/bulksender
yes, that is a problem. But not the only one. There are workarounds for some. Amazo offers you to get your unique IP address, if you pay an additional monthly fee. I do not know, whether only you then are using that IP or whether they only guarantee you, that you always send with the same IP, but others use that IP too.

The more important problem is, that these service send the email very fats out and as far as I know, you have no control over it, how many user with the same email provider egt your newsletter per minute. Because the email providers put you very quick on a blacklist, if you send too many users with the same domainname an email. So there are always hidden barriers and you will even not get the information, what the reason was.

Since I am in the same boat and nothing happened over the last 5 years from the Xenforo side regarding newsletter, I restarted an old project of mine, which I will then offer in the resource manager here.

It will be based on phplist (the free script, not the service which costs money) More information here:

https://xenforo.com/community/threads/does-anyone-have-a-good-newsletter-addon.129121/#post-1226862
 

Floyd R Turbo

Well-known member
If you're sending enough emails each month (minimum 100K, preferably 200K+), it would be worth paying for your own dedicated IP address and carefully warming it up to improve your deliverability.
This. Here's the issue I see with all of these 3rd party providers. They share IPs with other sites, and you then fall prone to getting co-labelled a spammer.

When we switched services (moved off of GD) and had to get a new dedicated IP address, we got a 100% new IP and this meant that there was a "learning curve". Basically no one trusts that IP for a while. After it's broken in, it gets better. Then over time as long as you don't change that, deliverability will improve.

Everyone is looking for the easy way out. SPF and DKIM verification were supposed to prove to the world that you were really real and not a spammer, but it hasn't, apparently. You can cross every T and dot every i but Hotmail will still throw emails very much randomly into junk, Yahoo is bad also, but at least gmail has a method for adding you to their system by plugging in a record into the zone file to prove to them that you are legit, and that actually seems to help prevent emails from going to gmail junk. Microsoft and Yahoo just don't give a %$#@.

There is only one real answer and it's only a partial one: get a dedicated IP and choose a decent service, configure it right, and then stick with it.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
If you're sending enough emails each month (minimum 100K, preferably 200K+), it would be worth paying for your own dedicated IP address and carefully warming it up to improve your deliverability.
No well it's only about 20k. I'd be Ok with paying something monthly, but what is the monthly charge for a your own dedicated IP? Looks like it's $59 with Mailgun which I cannot justify.
 

Sim

Well-known member
No well it's only about 20k. I'd be Ok with paying something monthly, but what is the monthly charge for a your own dedicated IP? Looks like it's $59 with Mailgun which I cannot justify.
SparkPost has a $9 per month plan which lets you send 50,000 messages per month, and then a dedicated IP address is $20 per month on top of that, so $29 per month in total.

However, they have previously stated that if you're not sending many emails (100K+), you may have difficulty sufficiently "warming up" an IP address to make significant difference to your sending reputation, so I'm not sure it's worth it at that level. I'm not sure if that advice has changed at all.

A quick look at various providers: SendGrid suggest that you don't need to bother warming up a dedicated IP if you send only a few, which implies small senders are okay with a dedicated IP. Amazon AWS suggest you need to be sending at least 175,000 emails per day on average to justify a dedicated IP :eek: SparkPost don't really give guidance on minimums on their website - but they do have a great warm up document which describes how to warm up an IP (I've just done this myself). MailChimp have a good overview document on the pros and cons of dedicated IPs. MailGun suggest a minimum of 50K per week (200K per month) for a dedicated IP and emphasises that the key is consistent sending and avoiding large spikes of volume.
 
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