Amazon SES (also known as AWS SES) is a cost-effective, flexible and scalable email service offered by Amazon. It is typically used for transactional communication such as order receipts, as well as email marketing, sales outreach, newsletters, or more. It allows for email automation at high volumes at a low cost.
How do they do it? Simple: Amazon had to build an impressive and highly sophisticated email infrastructure across the last decades to be able to serve its incredibly large customer base. With Amazon SES, any other email sender can benefit from this infrastructure, without the high costs normally charged by third-party email solutions. Businesses such as HBO, Siemens, or Vodafone use Amazon SES to send emails in mass.
This article walks you through Amazon SES and its features, uses, pricing, key benefits, and limitations, as well as typical alternatives.
Amazon SES Features
Amazon SES offers a broad range of features for a robust email system and eliminates challenges involved in building a large-scale email solution, from building your own infrastructure all the way to warming up your IP address or protecting your sending reputation. Their key features are outlined below.
All businesses need to have confidence that their emails will reach their intended recipients and be protected from threats. AWS SES filters content to ensure that emails meet ISP standards and flags content that doesn’t pass for correction. In addition, it blocks malware and viruses from being sent, informs the sender if emails are marked as spam, and overall improves basic content strategy.
Flexible configuration options
You can send emails in different methods with AWS SES, including the AWS SES console, the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) interface, or the Amazon SES API.
Amazon SES is easy to integrate with several platforms. The integration process will be straightforward if your app is hosted on AWS. You can also integrate it with Jira, Thunderbird, Postfix, Exim, and more.
Owned, dedicated, or shared IP addresses
By default, Amazon SES sends emails from IP addresses that are shared with other Amazon SES customers. Their IP addresses are well established and highly secure, are carefully monitored to ensure high deliverability, and do not require any extra cost.
You also have the opportunity to use a dedicated IP address (if you prefer to manage your own IP reputation) or bring your own IP address (if you prefer to migrate a range of IP addresses that you already own) for an additional cost. You can read more about the detailed pricing in the session “Amazon SES pricing” below.
When you use Amazon SES to receive incoming emails, you have complete control over which emails you accept, and what to do with them after you receive them. You can accept or reject mail based on the email address, IP address, or domain of the sender.
The reputation dashboard tracks the overall bounce and feedback loops for your account and can inform you about issues that could impact the delivery of your emails. With this information, you can take immediate action on issues that could impact your sender reputation.
Amazon SES Pricing
One of the most alluring attributes of AWS SES is the “pay as you go” method, with highly affordable rates. Their pricing depends on:
- How many emails you send
- How many emails you receive
- What additional services you want
They also offer a pricing calculator for custom quotes depending on your needs.
Pricing for sending emails
Amazon SES allows you to send up to 62,000 emails per month for free when integrating it with an application running on Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud). There is no free allowance when you use an email client to send the emails.
Beyond this threshold, you pay $0.10 for every 1,000 emails you send (which is up to 10x cheaper than well-known email tools such as Mailchimp).
There is also an extra charge of $0.12 for each GB of attachments you send.
Pricing for receiving emails
The first 1,000 emails you receive are free of charge. Beyond this threshold, the price is $0.10 for every 1,000 emails you receive.
There are also additional services you can add to your AWS SES package.
- Dedicated IP address: You can lease a sending IP address for your exclusive use. It costs $24.95 per month for each IP address you lease.
- Bring your own IP address: This feature lets you use a range of IP addresses that you own to send email with Amazon SES. It costs $24.95 per month for each IP address in the IP range.
- Deliverability dashboard: It costs $1,250 per month and includes reputation monitoring for up to five domains and 25 predictive email placement tests.
Pros and Cons of Amazon SES
No product is perfect, and while AWS SES is a great platform for transactional emails, there are situations where it may not be the best fit for your company. Below is a high-level breakdown of the pros and cons of using ASW SES.
- Affordable: Creating an email account is free, yet email marketing is often costly. Amazon SES uses a “pay as you go” method, so you only pay for the emails you send. Their low price point is a fraction of competitors’ cost, making this email service a top choice.
- Secure: Amazon SES is highly secure and well-monitored, protecting both you and your clients. For example, if you earn a bounce rate of over 0.10%, your account will be flagged for potential spam. Their sandboxing method also protects you from interacting with suspicious accounts.
- Integrations: Amazon is highly flexible and a popular provider of cloud space for developers. This means that many of your products will have been designed within the Amazon mainframe. As a tech superpower, Amazon is also highly incentivized to keep up with trends, meaning you’ll get updates quickly.
- High Screening Ability: Amazon is proactive when protecting both you and your clients. This means that they screen your email content to gauge the likelihood that your email will be flagged as spam, encouraging you to adapt your message to ensure delivery. They will also highly monitor your bounce and complaint rate to ensure that they are not enabling spam issuance.
- Complicated initial configuration. Compared to other “plug-and-play” email services, Amazon SES has a more complicated initial process and may require help from developers. Check out this Amazon SES tutorial to learn how to set it up.
- Lack of Templates: While Amazon SES is a robust email tool, it is not particularly intuitive to use. The low price makes it more financially accessible, yet the lack of templates and thorough walkthroughs makes it difficult for non-web developers to set it up.
- Lack of A/B Testing: Many other mass email services offer A/B testing, but AWS SES, unfortunately, does not.
- Lack of email list storage: Amazon SES lacks core Email Marketing features such as list management. However, tools such as Up add a layer of Email Marketing features on top of Amazon SES, which can easily solve this problem.
- No App Available: This product is available through desktops only.
Amazon SES alternatives
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that AWS SES provides email sending services. It is not an email marketing platform or a sales automation tool.
However, when used in conjunction with other tools, it can still replace email marketing or sales automation tools very conveniently and at incredible cost savings. Find below our best Amazon SES alternatives:
- Up: Our tool integrates to Amazon SES accounts and offers a layer of user-friendly features to optimize Amazon SES for email marketing or sales automation. Some examples of these features are contact list management, email editor for email templates or automated email sequences.
Other email sending tools you commonly compared to Amazon SES are:
- Mailgun: email service for developers, that can also integrate with your app via API or SMTP. It offers email list management and validation, both not available in AWS SES, however, is much more costly.
- Clicksend: Can also integrate via API and SMTP or use its dashboard for marketing emails. It has mobile apps (which are not available in AWS SES) and offers features such as list management and email templates.
- Pepipost: Can also integrate via API or SMTP. It offers competitive pricing but is still more expensive than AWS SES.
AWS SES is a highly secure, cost-efficient tool that is an excellent fit for many with apps developed on AWS. Interested in learning more? Check out this Amazon SES tutorial or learn more about Amazon SES best practices.