The implication of Amazon SES, a new bulk email service

Amazon Web Services has announced a new email deliverability product, called Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES). It might be worth your time to consider if you who don’t want to maintain a in-house email server, but would like to use a scalable client to deliver your emails.

Amazon Simple Email Service SES

Amazon SES integrates well with other Amazon products, such as hosting service EC2, Amazon S3 and others. Amazon will charge $0.10 per thousand emails sent (CPM). And the email service if offered for free when sent from Amazon EC2, with a limit of 2000 emails a day.


One of the main reasons to use a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) is the lack of maintenance (costs) and the increased deliverability. It has to be seen how Amazon SES will do in reputation, as anyone could apply for the service (also if you have a bad send reputation).

They do have some processes in place to improve the quality of emails sent as explained by Chris Wheeler, Technical Program Manager for Amazon SES. But he emphasizes:  “You must get your house in order before sending your first piece of mail. Otherwise, your mail will end up in the spam folder, may not be delivered at all, or you may be blocked from sending any more mail.”

Amazon scans your outgoing messages to see if they are up to IS standards and increase your maximum send limits step by step, if you show good (email sending) behavior. But we still have to see it in (long term) action.

Is this a replacement for my current ESP?

Amazon SES does nothing other than basically send your emails in a way that gets most of them delivered in a simple manner. It doesn’t offer any creation, measurement or other kinds of services next to the ones that have direct impact on deliverability at this moment. So unless you don’t need those services (because all is in-house) it is no replacement for agency or web-based Email Service Provider (ESP). Also the service needs some technical knowledge to set up. Most of the times you will need to use the API to control the sending. Even more if  you want to use DKIM you must use the API so technical knowledge is needed. So current ESPs don’t have so much to fear from Amazon SES, as the Email Expert blog mentioned.

Comparing Amazon SES against Sendgrid

It is not a new kind of service, deliverability and MTA services have been around for a long time. Because it is very important to get your email marketing message to the inbox. But the integration with other Amazon products and the pricing seems quite interesting. Below is a graph made by will’s web. Comparing prices between Amazon SES and Sendgrid, a similar service. Although the service is completely the same, you can see that Amazon SES has competitive pricing, one of the considerations in choosing an MTA.

So what do you think? Will Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) shake up the email MTA and deliverability world?

About Jordie van Rijn

Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and Analyst. He is the Founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. Named on of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016 " by Entrepreneur magazine.

  • Andrew Bonar

    Having spent the last 12 hours with it, I certainly think it will have a bigger impact than some ESP’s may think, much lesser impact than others may fear. Most of the feedback I am getting is “off the record” as people want a chance to use it themselves before commenting, understandable.

    It is not simple to setup, you want to send email ‘right’ so you need to include DKIM signing, that means you have to use the API, so not as simple as plugging in your email providers smtp address and user/pwd combination as you would with

    On the other hand it does more than just help you get your mail delivered it does give you access to FBL information too.” I have been speaking to Chris Wheeler over at Amazon and my gut feeling is they have a good idea how to manage operations to be able to minimise its abuse by spammers.

  • Andy T

    I have a feeling that ESPs may have to make themselves compatible with this in the future.
    We will probably see a whole new generation of ESPs and web agencies building their own interface and using this as their MTA – that could be a problem to ESPs, but only time will tell!

    • Andrew Bonar

      Bang on Andy :)

  • Cathymark

    If you run your life based on lowest price, then I guess you drive a Honda Fit or Hyundai Accent? Oh, you say you don’t? Me neither because I need premium value in parts of my life. And so do most businesses. There is a market for this service, but premium it is not.

  • Chris Wheeler

    Thanks for the writeup, Jordie. It will be interesting to see how disruptive Amazon SES is to the market and what lies in store next.

    Also, you misquoted me. :) Drop the “[through Amazon SES]” since I was saying if you don’t send through us, you must get your own infrastructure set up. By sending through Amazon SES, you don’t have to worry about that piece of the equation any longer. You can focus on content and sending strategies instead of the low level heavy lifting.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Chris, great of you to comment. We removed the “[through Amazon SES]”. So is what you are actually saying, that those steps (getting your house in order) can be skipped when using Amazon SES?

      • Chris Wheeler

        No. :) They can be outsourced to SES, but let me add senders are always in control of what the recipient level impact is. SES can handle the technical heavy lifting and enable a sender to do just that – send.

  • Kim Wright

    Thanks for this article. I work for JangoSMTP, which will be somewhat of a competitor to Amazon SES. From what we have seen, it does look like Amazon SES is very basic – it just sends emails, which is why the price is so low.

    Clients often come to us from other minimalist transactional email services, because they need more than just the ability to send email.Those who decide to use Amazon SES will need to have the resources to implement their own list management, campaign management, DKIM signing, reporting, etc. If they don’t have this, then using a company like JangoSMTP makes sense. We offer strong deliverability, advanced reporting, bounce and complaint management, the choice between using an SMTP server and an API to send transactional emails, and a smart, responsive customer service team.

    There is a lot of room in this industry and there many different service levels out there. Amazon SES will certainly be attractive to some, but it won’t be for everyone.

  • John Alessi

    It will work great for some people, but not all. SES is simple if you are a developer. At SocketLabs we help many developers send email, but we also help an overwhelming number of not-so-technical business people who send email which is equally as important. They need a little more hand-holding and support. These people are much more motivated by our ability to fully solve their email problems, than they are about comparing pennies to dimes.