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I am trying to find a cost effective approach to delivering a small volume of business emails, that offers a high rate of inbox deliverability. This question borders on a product recommendation, so I thought I would seek some recommendations here before trying it on the main site.

My company currently sends approximately 10k business emails per year from 10 different addresses (same domain), and we are presently using Office365. We require none of the features of Office365, except its ability to send emails and currently pay around $780/yr for it.

What I would like to do is to setup our own mail server (Postfix/Dovecot) and relay our outgoing business emails through a 3rd party SMTP relay. We already have Postfix running on our servers (which relays our transactional emails to Amazon SES).

In terms of getting things setup, I have no real issues. However, I do have an issue with inbox deliverability. Our business emails (i.e. personal/hand-written emails - responses to inquiries, etc.) need to end up in people's inboxes, and with Office365, we have not seen any of emails end up in people's spam folders. Sending from our own servers, we have been able to hit around 85-90% inbox deliverability (at less than 30 emails a day, we don't really send a large enough volume to build reputation on our IP addresses), but that is insufficient for business emails.

Most of the options we have explored (Sendgrid, Mailjet, Mandrill, SES) aren't really designed for this purpose, and have either directly or indirectly told us that they can't match the levels of deliverability we would see with Office365 or Google Apps.

So, my question is: how do small businesses with several employees, that send a small number of emails, send email in a cost effective manner. (With the side note, that we have the ability to setup whatever we need in-house).

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    Yes, you can set it up in-house, but can you do it for $780 per year? The answer is probably no... – Michael Hampton Feb 17 '14 at 22:51
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    Well, what I meant was more that we already have servers, we already run Postfix, and we can easily setup inboxes. We are a small startup, so costs are more of a concern initially than time. What I would like, ideally, is a 3rd party SMTP relay which is designed for business/personal emails, and bills by the 1000 emails, instead of with a monthly fee for each address. We have several addresses that have sent and received perhaps 10 emails in the last year - but we have paid $75 for each of them. – cyberx86 Feb 17 '14 at 22:56
  • At 30 messages per day I doubt I would even bother with a third party service. If you have an email admin who is even halfway clueful, you can manage deliverability for such a low volume yourself. – Michael Hampton Feb 17 '14 at 22:58
  • Come to think of it, at that volume you could probably use your ISP's SMTP relay for free. Presuming, of course, that this is not bulk mail but simply routine person-to-person mail. – Michael Hampton Feb 17 '14 at 23:01
  • That is the thing. The email volume is tiny and we would have no technical issues setting up things on our own servers (and we could do it for a lot less than $780/yr, given the small volume). We use EC2 for our servers - but our elastic IPs aren't blacklisted, and we have everything else setup (SPF, DKIM, etc. and the emails are handwritten - so the content is of good quality). We don't have an ISP for our business (we don't operate out of a building and are spread across about 100km). Sending from our servers though, we always seem to get around 10% of emails ending up in spam folders. – cyberx86 Feb 17 '14 at 23:06
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    That's probably because you're sending directly from EC2. A few places blacklist every Amazon EC2 IP address range. I have a server on EC2, and I relay all its mail through a little VPS at some other small $PROVIDER nobody's ever heard of. It gets 99%+ delivered. – Michael Hampton Feb 17 '14 at 23:08
  • Exactly - we had slightly better luck with SES - but even that isn't enough for us to be content to send business emails. That was why we were looking for a 3rd party relay - but one for business emails not transactional or marketing emails. Time for another few searches I think. You might have set me on the right track. – cyberx86 Feb 17 '14 at 23:15
  • The continued use of the noun setup where there should be the verb set up is making me twitchy. – TRiG Feb 18 '14 at 16:44
  • @TRiG: apologies - I do that more often than I should, and catch it less often than ideal. Reading it back, I'd agree on the twitchy bit. – cyberx86 Feb 18 '14 at 23:53
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We already have a canonical question dealing with inbox deliverability. Your proposed question would likely be closed as a duplicate of it. That said, for our reading audience, new answers for our canonical questions are always welcome.

To avoid this, the question would have to deal with a very specific deliverability issue, not sufficiently covered by the existing canonical, which at this time your proposed question does not.

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