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I'm wondering why there are so many newsletter services versus self hosted softwares. Even the self hosted solutions either require a third party (Sendy requires Amazon) or come at an extra cost (my web&email host charges 10€ for 10000 email sent).

If Mailchimp and the likes can do it why can't I do it on my website ? Is it only a question of server resources ?

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It usually comes down to trust and guaranteed delivery. You don't pay 3rd party companies like Mailchimp or other to send emails, you pay them because they guarantee a very high rate of email delivery. It would be difficult to match this on a self hosted solution for various reasons.

If you are using shared hosting and tied to IP addresses that your host has configured for outgoing email. If something goes wrong with that IP address, such as another client suddenly spamming, there is a chance the IP address could get blacklisted for spam. In this situation you are left waiting for your host to resolve the issue with the provider or ISP. This could result your email delivery rate going down or appearing in your users spam boxes.

If email delivery is a core part of your business or you need to send a large amount of emails then using an email provider might be beneficial since they will do some if not all of the following:

  • Ensure they are on whitelists and feedback loops
  • Utilize hundreds of IP addresses and different data centers
  • Analyze bounce rates to keep lists clean
  • Abuse monitoring and IP reputation
  • Have the ability to provide you with a dedicated IP

All that being said you can still run your own email environment and take steps to avoid some of the more common issues when it comes to email delivery and spam issues such as running on a VM with a dedicated IP address and monitoring for abuse.

So for me it comes down to the use case. Will i use a paid email service for a small forum or community website? Probably not. Will I be more inclined to use an email service for an account system where I need to make sure my customers receive their invoices and support replies? Yes.

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    The other reason is that setting up email is an absolute PITA. So many hoops to jump through. – DisgruntledGoat May 16 at 16:39
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You can send to mailing lists from your server. Mailman desperately needs an update for the 21st century web, but it does the job and is open source.

It is part of cpanel if you are using that.

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    Have you not used Mailman 3 / Hyperkitty? – Michael Hampton May 16 at 19:24
  • @MichaelHampton nope and I am checking it out. Thanks for the pointer – Steve May 16 at 23:19
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Analog gave you a comprehensive answer. In two words: IP reputation.

The takeaway is that not all IP addresses are equal in terms of reputation. If you send from a residential connection using a big, national ISP your delivery rate could suffer, given that the overall volume of spam recorded from that ISP is usually going to be somewhat significant. There is some kind of collective penalty. You suffer because of the actions of other customers.

That may vary a lot depending on source and destination. Every ISP or providers have their own lists and criteria to determine what qualifies as spam.

That being said, you can definitely send E-mail yourself. Make sure that you comply with applicable regulations, your subscribers should be opt-in and should be able to easily unsubscribe. If you fall within EU jurisdiction, you may have to consider compliance with GDPR.

Third-party services not only take care of the delivery, but they also take care of those legal and practical aspects - in simple terms they manage a database of subscribers for you.

My own experience: I manage a number of servers with dedicated IP addresses, some of which assigned for a very long time (> 10 years). In spite of this I have noticed that sometimes the IP addresses land in some blacklist (Spamhaus or other) for no real reason (I do not spam and hardly send any mail). The most likely reason is that sometimes they blacklist a block like a /24 or more, instead of a single IP address.

Some webhosts have a bad reputation because they are lenient on spam (or even cybercrime), they are more likely to be blacklisted by peers. If you have a bad host, expect to have poor delivery rates.

Note that even using dedicated IP addresses does not guarantee you won't have problems. They may have been used in the past, so they have history. And like I said above some blacklists are happy to ban in bulk rather than go for the surgical approach.

So when you are in some blacklist, you have to apply for delisiting, the process is often automated but not always. Sometimes you have to get hold of a real human for a manual review, who is not always sympathetic - they assume you are guilty.

Even mail servers from Google are blacklisted at times.

In conclusion, you can send the mail yourself but watch your logs. If you have many rejections, investigate them. Check if your IP addresses are in some blacklists by any chance and if they are, have them delisted.

They are some steps you can do to increase 'acceptance' rates like using DMARC, publish a SPF record or having a proper PTR record etc. To some extent, remote MTAs are more likely to trust your mail if it complies with standard practices. The keyword here is: scoring.

The thing is, sending E-mail has become a specialized trade just like web hosting is a specialized trade too. After all, anybody can set up a webserver and even host it at home but we agree that is usually not a professional solution. Until the mid-1990s spam was not a problem but since there is so much spam nowadays, all Internet actors have become more strict. As a result, even sending legitimate mail - and making sure it will get through to the recipient - is more difficult than it used to be.

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