Amazon SES Verify Your Email, Setup DKIM, SPF And SenderID For Better Email Delivery

Jan 23rd, 2013 | By | Category: search engines

Using Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) to send Email

Amazon released their new SMTP Simple email relay service which allows you to send Bulk emails. The service has been welcomed by many marketers due to the very low prices however the actual setup process can be daunting. Continue to read to find out how to ensure you have everything setup in your Amazon SES account to get maximum inbox delivery rates.

Is Amazon SES The Right Choice?

Just before we dive into the Setup process its very important you understand what will be involved. If like myself you are using email service providers such as Aweber then you must be prepared to learn as Amazon does not come configured out of the box and is very different to Aweber, get response etc

We will connect using SMTP or by using a simple API call which then allows us access to Amazons High quality scalable email infrastructure. So its important that you have a self hosted email script which will be able to communicate with Amazon. But its just as important to ensure you have a email system in place that will handle your suppressed email lists such as opt outs, unsubscribes and bounces.

I personally use ArpReach which I have found challenging to configure but am getting there. The reason for moving is simple. Aweber can close you down anytime – I just dont like the idea and 2ndly when you have a large list then you really do need more control. Arpreach allows me to swap my SMTP providers so I can test with Amazon SES and many other SMTP providers and then work with the best one.

A self Hosted autoresponder script such as ArpReach will manage your Email suppression list and all other areas that you can expect from a service provider such as Aweber and when combined with a Good SMTP provider such as Amazon SES then you can expect the same delivery rate if not better and save yourself a whole load of money.

Save Money using Amazon SES not compromising Email Delivery

Services such as Aweber charge you based on the amount of subscribers you have and not based on the amount of emails you send, whereas Amazon SES will charge you for the emails you send and the prices are very reasonable. Lets do a quick comparison.

Aweber will charge you $19.97 a month for up to 500 subscribers (Larger packages also available) Lets say you had 500 subscribers and you emailed them every other day, so about 15 emails to each one over 30 days. This would mean you are sending 15 x 500 emails which equals to 7500 emails in the month.

Comparing Aweber with Amazons SES prices then you will see that Amazon charge you $10 for every 10,000 emails sent – That would be a saving each month of more then half. and if your anything like myself where you send a couple of emails a week at most then you can look to save a nice amount.

You can also expect great email delivery provided you set everything up correctly, which I hope to take you through below. I'm still in the process of testing and will try to write an article comparing email delivery with both providers Amazon SES Vs Aweber. so be sure to subscribe to Our Rss Feed if you want to be informed.

Setting Up Amazon SES DKIM, SPF and SenderID

After you have signed up for a Amazon account then follow the verification procedures. You will need to verify the sender email and also your domain. For Email delivery then there are 3 areas that we will need to setup so that we dont get blocked by the major email service providers.

Setting up DKIM

To setup the DKIM settings then you will find that Amazon will supply you with a number of Cname records and 1 TXT record to add to your Domains hosts DNS settings.When logged into your Amazon account then you will find the DNS settings for DKIM on the following page AMAZON DKIM – Just click the DKIM Tab near the domain.

We used hostgator to host our domain which uses Cpanel. Adding the DNS records is simple, just open your advanced DNS settings and make new entries with the ones supplied by Amazon.

Once you have made the changes it could take upto 72 hours for Amazon to confirm that it has been verified. Once verified you should go back to the verified senders section and enable the DKIM settings for Both the Email and the domain.

By enabling the DKIM settings your allowing Amazon to send a  verified signature with the email which tells email providers that this is a legitimate email. You will also see that in your test emails the Sent Via Amazon will no longer show and your emails will now be signed by your own domain.

Setting SPF records

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework which helps trace the email back to the original source. This helps ISP's ensure emails are valid and not spoofed. 

What we need to do is look for a txt or SPF entry in the advanced DNS Zone editor. SPF records will start with v=spf1, On our hostgator we already had one created as a TXT record which looked like this

v=spf1 +a +mx +ip4:124.100.100.100 ?all

Now we need to add Amazon in this record and the way we do this is by adding include:amazonses.com to the record

After editing the SPF record it now looks like this

v=spf1 +a +mx +ip4:124.100.100.100 include:amazonses.com ?all

Setting SenderID

Many ISP's will mark your email as Spam if you do not setup SenderID.

Setting up sender ID is similar to a SPF record and are usually a TXT record in your DNS settings. The SenderID normally starts like this

spf2.0/pra

We didnt have one created with our host so we created a new TXT entry to include our own host and Amazon SES.

Our SenderID TXT entry looked like this

spf2.0/pra +a +mx +ip4:124.100.100.100 include:amazonses.com ?all

That's it your done setting up the verification. Now all you need to do is test the emails and make sure all is working fine.

You can test DKIM and SPF settings here

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