The choice of the SMTP server you use is as if not more important that the email marketing tool you us. You can create the best looking, most effective email ever but if your SMTP server setup is not set up well then it is like you never sent it.
SMTP servers are the email work-horses of the internet. In the world of amazing technology, it is sometimes hard to be impressed, but I am constantly amazed by the thought and foreknowledge of the whole SMTP server framework. As time has moved on, the SMTP framework has changed, and the biggest change is that of SPAM control. There are to main problem areas we see daily with SMTP servers: How to connect to your SMTP server, and how "good" your SMTP actually functions.
SMTP Connection - The problems that are encountered when connecting to SMTP servers are varied and usually include these:
- The port you need to use is being blocked by your ISP if you SMTP server
- My ISP only allows so many email per day/hour
- Not using the correct connection method (ie: TLS, SSL, NTLM) or wrong domain name
- My ISP's SMTP server is not a "good citizen" in the internet world
SMTP Providers - There are specialized companies out there that will act as your SMTP server. They will ensure your emails going out are appropriately make to conform to SPAM rules, they monitor their servers to make sure they are not blocked, and they will help you resolve issues that do come up is there are any problems with email recipients. Now it is true this will cost you some money, but if you add up all the time you or someone you will hire to work on these issues I think the value is there. If you are sending 100,000 emails a month, then the prices are really reasonable. If you send over a million, then that is maybe when you can start thinking of having your own SMTP server, but it really depends on the connectivity, your budget, and your expertise. One of our partners is SMTP.com (http://arialsoftware.smtp.com) and they have been a great partner with us for years. There are others, but I think they are the best, so check them out if this seems like a solution for you.