A lot of time and resources are invested in making sure your customers get your emails. This is where email infrastructure comes in handy. While you have limited control over user interaction with your emails, monitoring email infrastructure is in your hands.
Email infrastructure usually consists of your server and domain configuration, server performance, IP address, mail agents, and more. And to make sure your email infrastructure is in perfect working order, you need to constantly monitor it.
An understanding of how to monitor email infrastructure is important as it allows you to evaluate your email campaign success.
What is Email Infrastructure?
We have several moving pieces when it comes to email infrastructure, which lets emails be sent to you and from you. In other words, a mechanism for delivering emails for both transactional and marketing purposes to your customers is email infrastructure. It is composed of several aspects that use IP addresses, mail servers, as well as resources focusing on email deliverability and domain reputation. And here is a close-up of these elements:
An IP address literally acts as a sequence of numbers that represents domain names that may be used to define unique device positions. The IP includes the location and enables details to be shared on a network to logically connect devices, including for communication purposes, like Voice over IP (VoIP) and email sending. For email marketing campaigns and individual sending, it is critical to maintaining the sender’s reputation. Because of the importance of a good sender reputation, you must be more diligent about IP addresses. Depending on your need, you will gain benefits from one of these IP types:
- Personal/dedicated IP address. When you own a dedicated IP address you have exclusive access to it and you can count on protection and independence at a minimal cost.
- Shared/public IP. Using this comes at the expense of reputational damage if those using it fail to uphold proper email practices.
If you don’t manage your sender reputation, the risks associated with bulk emailing can affect your campaigns in the long run. Managing your IP reputation is crucial for email marketing success as it increases deliverability. More users are utilizing dedicated IP addresses over time as it is needed to deal with today’s diverse competition.
A mail server is a server that takes control of and routes email on the internet. A mail server is a perfect way to accept incoming emails from clients and send them on to another mail server.
There are two types of mail servers: the outbound or outgoing server and the inbound or incoming server. They have different use cases and configurations.
- Outbound/outgoing server. Also known as SMTP server. This server is responsible for sending mails. Usually, outgoing mail servers have similar name structure, like smtp.mail.domain. By default the SMTP server works on three ports, you can read more on the common SMTP ports and their uses. Keep in mind that any attempt to use an outbound mail server as an inbound one will not work.
- Inbound/incoming server. Also known as POP or IMAP servers. This type lets you receive emails. Names for incoming mail servers are built in a similar way to outgoing one, such as pop.mail.domain or imap.mail.domain. Also, don’t use this types of server for receiving emails – it won’t work since they focus on delivering of emails.
A mail agent processes, responds to, and delivers mail. The process for moving emails within an email infrastructure can be split into multiple stages: mail transfer agent, mail delivery agent, and mail user agent.
- Mail Transfer Agent (MTA). A mail transfer agent, or message transfer agent, is a program on a mail server that manages communications. It empowers the communication flow of emails from a sender to a person’s computer.
- Mail User Agent (MUA). The mail user agent processes emails for the machine. It allows users to process their emails in the manner they want. You can read, respond, delete, report as spam, and so on.
- Mail Delivery Agent (MDA). The mail delivery agent can also be used as an alternative to the MTA to distribute emails to the appropriate subscribers or profiles.
A feedback loop (FBL), also referred to as a complaint feedback loop or complaint queue, allows ISPs to notify senders regarding unsolicited emails received from their customers. Removing certain people from the mailing lists ensures they will not get more unwanted emails, thus keeping the ones who want to be on them happy.
To reduce email clutter, removing email subscribers who have filed complaints is efficient. The smaller the number of complaints from the sender, the higher their potential odds of succeeding in hitting inboxes.
Email Infrastructure: Elements to Monitor
Lack of email infrastructure monitoring can affect your email deliverability dramatically. Managing and monitoring your email infrastructure is a key requirement for maintaining an effective email list. There are several elements to consider when monitoring your email infrastructure and we will discuss them here.
Increasing mailbox volume via scheduled IP addresses is known as IP warming. Following a calculated approach helps to build a trustworthy sender’s credibility with ISPs (ISPs). It’s a great way to quickly establish the legitimacy of new concepts with new clients.
The logic behind this is to send smaller quantities of emails and increase the speed of emails sent according to a schedule that has been developed. A warm-up can benefit you, as well as keep the audience updated and maintain the trust of the mail service provider. The method makes it more likely that the email would get to the subscriber.
Server Health and Performance
Exchange mail servers are exceptionally scalable, they are efficient at performing bulk mail delivery and at the same time reducing the chances of human error and increasing system throughput. You have to make sure your emails are secure against any viruses or phishing attempts by maintaining your exchange servers.
The easiest approach to block anyone from accessing your server is to set up an authentication algorithm and protect your server from other parties. Also, you can use our Exchange server monitoring tool solution to perform internal and external checks on your server to ensure all services are working and give an insight into the server’s performance.
Email protocol is a standard method for exchanging information between email clients. POP3, IMAP, and SMTP are the most widely used email protocols on the Internet. The primary roles of POP3 and IMAP are receiving and transmitting communications, while SMTP is fully limited to the sending.
You can determine whether various aspects of your email server are working by using one of the free network tools from Dotcom-Tools, like the Email Server Test tool. This email testing tool can also perform a connectivity check using the email protocol you specify. Overall, it tests your mail server for availability and performance and makes sure your connection is established and secured. For access to more comprehensive email server monitoring features, such as continuous monitoring checks, access to global locations, and visit the Infrastructure Monitoring page.
Blacklisting and Spam Scoring
Email blacklist also known as DNSBL is a real-time database that makes it easy to decide which emails are spam. It is basically a filter that can decide whether or not an email reaches its expected inbox destination. It is a smart practice to search blacklists when you encounter sending difficulty, even if you don’t have any at the moment.
The blacklists focused on DNS are developed to shield users from IPs that have a significant amount of spam complaints. With the help of spam scoring and blacklist checking tools, you can look up if your IP, hostname, domain belongs to spam and blacklists databases. It’s critical analysis because being blacklisted can result in email deliverability issues so you have to make sure you’re not on that list.
The greatest possibilities for hackers to access your network are through phishing and email spam. DKIM key (DomainKeys Identified Mail) is one of the most popular ways to authenticate a mail server and prove it to ISPs with other methods such as SPF (Sender Policy Framework) or DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance). When set up correctly, all three demonstrate that the sender is genuine, that their privacy is not breached.
These email security initiatives are necessary as popular email clients (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) implement strict security regulations. So having these records configured and checked means your emails won’t be rejected but delivered straight to the primary inboxes.
How to Scale Email Testing
For marketers, email testing relates more to checking copy, doing A/B testing, email marketing audit, etc. But for Development and QA professionals, email testing ensures validating every link in your message, checking for domain reputations, redirects, deliverability, layouts, and other critical tech elements.
There is a vast range of single email tests, like HTML template debugging or spam check, that can be performed on your email. Unfortunately, a single method can’t for sure verify whether your email is ready for transmission, especially when it comes to the tech sides. That’s why you need to use a set of tools and run various testing scenarios or tend to choose an all-in-one service.
Full-stack email testing solutions like Mailtrap offer a way to scale up email testing. A good thing about such tools is that you test your emails in a safe environment, meaning you will never send your test emails to users accidentally. Also, using a tool that can test various elements of your email is a resource-friendly and convenient idea.
On the other side, if you still up to choose a set of tools, below, there are main areas of testing as well as services that might help the following:
- Layout Check. You need to check your HTML/CSS for errors to ensure that it’s compatible with different email clients and that it’s displayed the way you want. Tools to consider are Email on Acid, Litmus, and Preview My Email.
- Spam Testing. With regard to deliverability, examining spam and blacklist is important. You need to eliminate spam triggers and make sure your domain is on a white list. You need to look up your domain name or IP addresses to see whether you’ve been included on a spam blacklist (blacklists). There are several tools available to test the deliverability of emails and perform spam checks, such as SendForensics and MailTester.
- Testing Email Server Capability. Establishing or optimizing your email server’s POP3, IMAP, and SMTP connection availability and efficiency is a must for well-configured infrastructure. For these needs, try out Wormly, GMass, or PowerShell.
- Test Email Sending with an API. You can automate your testing process with an API. Many of the solutions, like MailSlurp and Mailosaur, use the REST protocol and can return calls in JSON or XML data formats.
Email Infrastructure Monitoring Checklist: Wrapping Up
Building a strong email infrastructure is a critical task for ensuring the delivery of your emails. That’s why don’t skip on monitoring of key network elements as well as testing technical email aspects. With these procedures, you can guarantee your application or website will deliver the right emails to the right people on time. Learn more about the features and benefits of the Infrastructure Monitoring solution within the Dotcom-Monitor platform.
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Dmytro Zaichenko is a Marketing Specialist at Mailtrap, an email sandbox service. He has 6+ years of experience in content writing. Apart from writing, he’s passionate about collaborating with the dev team, networking, and the NBA.