EmailOctopus – Send Marketing Newsletter Using Amazon SES

Update October 2016

At the end of 2015 I have been reviewing Email Octopus, an email marketing service built on top of Amazon SES. The review follows this update note.

In 2015 at Hem, fed-up with 3rd party solutions, the management decided to build our own customer marketing solution from scratch on top of AWS. We quickly found that we were able to deliver better and more flexible features, smoother experiences all at much lower costs than the 3rd party services.

Today we are packaging our internal service for other companies to use and benefit from. We are unique in the first place because we are a customer of email marketing that via a long and passionate journey had the opportunity and requirement to build our own solution to the challenges we experienced.

We know from first hand experience what are the pain points in email marketing, the ones that will completely change your experience as a marketer.

This product is Pepo Campaigns.

Pepo Campaigns is the first enterprise-grade email marketing platform built on AWS Simple Email Service — enabling organizations of all sizes to harness the power of AWS without writing a single line of code.

At Pepo Campaigns all is made simple with no code required on your end, so your developers can stay focused on the technology while your marketing team can focus on the message. No separate AWS account required. You’ll be up and running in minutes with Pepo Campaigns.

Before October 2016

Recently I came across a cool product EmailOctopus on top of Amazon SES. We at hackpundit are always looking for upcoming, innovative product which solves a problem. The way Amazon SES is getting popular email service like this was always on cards. Founders were kind enough to give me their full featured upgrade for free for review purpose.

If you are beginner with Amazon Web Service you can get started with below articles.

EmailOctopus

EmailOctopus sends your marketing newsletters through Amazon’s Simple Email Service (SES). The service boasts of sending newsletters at a very cheap rate without sacrificing deliverability.

It’s important to know that EmailOctopus doesn’t have their own smtp servers for sending email. They completely rely on Amazon SES for sending email.

Pricing EmailOctopus - EmailService on Top of Amazon SES

Pricing is affordable. As EmailOctopus is a service on top of Amazon SES, you need to have an AWS account. Low pricing complements Amazon SES low email sending charges. Charges include two things:

  • Amazon SES charges for sending email.
  • EmailOctopus service using charges. Services include Creating list, Building Campaign, Sending email through their servers.

For sending 250000 users/month you will be charged $42(Whale Plan) + Amazon SES charges(N. Virginia $20).

This is 7-8 times cheaper than popular email service MailChimp. Worth a try!

Deliverability

Deliverability to your inbox is an important parameter before choosing/switching to a different email service provider. Deliveraibilty in EmailOctopus  totally depends on SES.

Amazon SES deliverability has improved a great deal over the years. It works great especially if you follow their best practices. One of the best practice include:

  • Don’t send email again to bounced/complaint users. For each sent email, Amazon SES responds with whether email was delivered or bounced or marked spam. Based on this you should either white-list or blacklist email.

Campaigns are fully managed. They have pretty, clean dashboard for reporting bounced, spam, successfully delivered analytics.

You need to know that if Amazon closes an account then there’s no way it can be used with EmailOctopus. So SES reputation has to be taken care while it’s still being used with EmailOctopus.

How to Use EmailOctopus?

I must say the dashboards are very simple and quite intuitive. Good knowledge of AWS services especially Amazon SES will kick start usage. However it’s not something mandatory. Team is very supportive in case your are stuck.

I still feel it lacks some important features and will get mature with time. Below are steps you need to follow to get started with their service.

  • Create EmailOctopus account using your email address.
  • After signup you will see below dashboard:
EmailOctopus Dashboard

EmailOctopus Dashboard

  • You need to setup your AWS account. If you don’t have an AWS account you need to create one. Create an IAM user and give it Amazon SES access. Generated access key and secret key needs to be filled here.
EmailOctopus Amazon SES Account Setup

EmailOctopus Amazon SES Account Setup

  • Create List. You can create list by adding email address one by one or do bulk upload using CSV. I really liked the idea of bulk upload since large business have huge user base.
EmailOctopus Create Lists

EmailOctopus Create Lists

  • You are almost done. Create your campaign and start sending emails. After sending campaign you can measure performance like open rate, click rate, unsubscribed etc.

EmailOctopus Positives

Below are advantages of using EmailOctopus as your marketing newsletter service.

  • No one can beat their pricing until you build your own service on top of Amazon SES.
  • UI is very simple and  cool. It will not take your much time to get you started. There’s a full WYSIWYG editor for easy building of campaigns.
  • List creation is very simple. Bulk CSV upload feature saves a lot of time and duplicate work.
EmailOctopus List API

EmailOctopus List API

  • They also have rich LIST API. Through API you can create, delete, fetch, update lists.

Limitations

Product is very promising. Some of the features in EmailOctopus which I would like to see in future:

  • A/B Testing of campaigns.
  • No transactional email support. It will be great if we can send transactional emails also. Not sure in that case should we be using Amazon SES directly for sending emails to avoid latency? What do you guys think?

You can get started with EmailOctopus service using below link:

It’s critical to prevent your newsletters from going into spam. Below tool is recommended by Amazon SES. It helps you spam test your email before sending.

I highly recommend setup AWS CloudWatch alarm for billing alerts if you are an AWS user. It will help you avoid getting shock from unexpected billing amount.

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