๐ŸŒดGetting approved for Amazon SES production access

Amazon SES has the best pricing of any delivery service that allows email marketing.

Amazon SES is 10 cents per 1000 messages sent, pay-as-you-go, with no minimums or commitments; that's $100 per million messages, only pay for what you send.

This bargain basement discount pricing comes with a higher barrier to entry than with other email delivery API or SMTP Relay services which charge more.

Unlike other vendors, you can't just sign up and start sending.

First, you have to create an account and complete your integration by verifying a domain and connecting it to your EmailDelivery.com ESP platform; then you're placed into "the sandbox."

You can only send mail to email addresses that you own while in the Amazon SES sandbox.

To test your Amazon SES integration while in the sandbox, you have to add and verify each of your personal email addresses one at a time, and that becomes your contact list.

To get out of the sandbox and send mail to your real contact list, you need to request production access.

You must have a verified domain and have completed and tested your SES integration with your EmailDelivery.com ESP platform before you request production access.

If approved to get out of the sandbox, your sending limit will start out at 50,000 messages per day, and you can have the cap lifted once you've established yourself as a reasonable sender.

Amazon will initially throttle your production sending to 14 messages per second, which will automatically increase over time.

We have customers who Amazon allows to send hundreds of messages per second.

Getting approved for Amazon SES production access

The first thing that Amazon SES is screening for is that many applicants who apply for new email marketing accounts are liars.

Fake sites, fake blogs, fake products, fake companies.

Example: When Mailchimp made drastic changes to Mandril and rolled it into their main product, they said they were canceling 2000 Mandril accounts per day for spam.

When the Trust & Safety team evaluates your site and your production access application, this is what they're looking at:

  • Does this site, service, or product seem real, professional, and reputable?

  • Is there a footer on the site with a privacy policy?

  • Would this site, service, or product need Amazon SES? Is there a plausible legitimate use case here?

  • How will this applicant build their contact list and where did their existing contacts come from?

  • If all of the above adds up, will this entity be sending emails that people want to read and that don't upset the reader?

Important Make sure your site has the expected footer with a privacy policy.

Important Only make your application for one site, one brand. Your application must be crystal clear and super easy to understand at a glance for the busy Amazon reviewer.

Do not apply for multiple websites/brands or mention other customers and clients. Since Amazon only has the ability to vet your site, product, brand, or service, and no ability to vet your current or future customers or clients, this will cause a denial. As a general rule if your production access application states you intend to act as an agency for managing the mailing lists of others, you will be denied.

If you are a responsible sender, you will have no problem adding additional domains to your Amazon SES account once you've been approved. However, during the production access approval process, any ambiguity will cause a denial.

This is an example of the type of content Amazon SES isn't going to approve:

We had a customer who ticked every box, but the front page of their website was covered in articles about burning in hell, causing their application and all appeals to be denied.

And finally:

  • Is this otherwise legitimate applicant a competent sender? What are their hygiene practices?

  • How will they manage bounces, unsubs, and complaints, ensuring they will help maintain or improve Amazon's sender reputation instead of harm it?

I've spoken to Amazon about what the trust and safety team wants to see to be reassured a sender knows what they're doing, and isn't going to wildly spam and blow their account up out of negligence.

Here's their answer...

Include technical details.

Explain how you plan to use Amazon SES to send email:

Through an integration with the EmailDelivery.com ESP platform. โœ…

How can recipients opt out of receiving emails from you?

EmailDelivery.com has a one-click unsubscribe in the footer and a one-click list-unsubscribe header is attached as a backup in case the integrated email delivery service doesn't include its own โœ…

How do you plan to handle bounces and complaints?

The EmailDelivery.com ESP platform integration uses Amazon SNS and event publishing. โœ…

Real-time reputation metrics are shown prominently in the EmailDelivery.com platform UI reporting as webhooks come back in live from Amazon. โœ…

Bounces, unsubs, and complaints are suppressed account-wide automatically the first time they're seen. โœ…

We will also be using the reputation metrics dashboard in the Amazon SES console as a sanity check and backup to monitor our bounce and complaint rates and verify the information we're seeing in the EmailDelivery.com platform is accurate on an ongoing basis. โœ…

Amazon recommends you familiarize yourself with these links in order to speak the same language as the Amazon SES trust and safety team.

In summation, heed this direct quote from Amazon:

The idea would be to include as much specific details on the SES features they will be leveraging so that the AWS Trust and Safety Team are assured that they are aware and will implement best practices

Softball: ๐ŸฅŽ

You'll be asked by Amazon SES to non-specifically state your "Use case".

Just answer general questions like these as comprehensively as possible:

  • What does your site do?

  • How do you plan to build or acquire your mailing list?

  • What will you use Amazon SES for?

Provide supporting evidence if possible. This has worked for getting rejected applicants approved on appeal:

If you're switching from another ESP, attach recent invoices proving you're a valid sender with a regular business relationship with another service.

Provide links to social media accounts associated with your verified domain that have a following and organic engagement.

Attach examples of emails you plan on sending - these better be good and show an unsubscribe footer with a full name and address for the sender and "you have received this email because you...." memo.

All of this may sound formidable but it's actually not hard to get approved.

Bottom line:

Just don't look like a spammer. ๐Ÿ‘

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