Consumers may know Amazon as one of the internet's most dominant ecommerce brand, but over the years, Amazon has also built a formidable profile as a provider of cloud computing services.

Yesterday, Amazon announced that its cloud is growing to cover email with the launch of a new bulk email delivery service called Amazon Simple Email Service (SES).

Noting that "sending email is a lot harder than it looks", Amazon is hoping that businesses will jump at the opportunity to use the same infrastructure and technology it uses internally to deliver email to customers:

Amazon SES eliminates [the challenges of sending email] and enables businesses to benefit from the years of experience and sophisticated email infrastructure has built to serve its own large-scale customer base.

Through a simple API call, businesses can now access a high-quality, scalable email infrastructure to efficiently and inexpensively communicate to their customers. For high email deliverability, Amazon SES uses content filtering technologies to scan a business’s outgoing email messages to help ensure that the content meets ISP standards. The email message is then either queued for sending or routed back to the sender for corrective action.

To help businesses further improve the quality of email communications with their customers, Amazon SES provides a built-in feedback loop, which includes notifications of bounce backs, failed and successful delivery attempts, and spam complaints.

Already, many of Amazon's cloud offerings have been adopted by developers and businesses -- particularly startups. The value proposition is simple: scale as much as you need to when you need to, and pay for only what you use. It's no different with Amazon SES: there's a free tier (excluding data transfer fees) of up to 2,000 emails per day when emails are sent from an Amazon EC2 instance or AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and above that, 1,000 emails can be sent for just 10 cents.

Of course, an un-policed Amazon SES would no doubt attract spammers, so Amazon requires that interested parties get started in an SES sandbox. Once an application has been tested with a verified email list, a request must be sent to obtain production access.

Over time, Amazon will increase the number of emails a production application can send, with a whopping 1m emails per day being possible after just weeks of use.

Given the challenges businesses face in sending emails reliably, and the costs often involved, it would not be surprising if that Amazon SES becomes one of Amazon's most popular cloud offerings.

According to Marc Munier of email marketing company pure360, Amazon's move into the ESP space shouldn't pose a threat to traditional ESPs, as the SES service is geared towards transactional marketers, while it lacks the capacity to send large number of emails, as well as the campaign management and reporting tools provided by others. 

A number of ESPs have tried and failed to make a mark on the transactional market (us included!), believe me we’d love to send all those emails for you and we’re all very well qualified to do so but...

The issue isn’t about capability, often the barrier is the client, since routing transactional emails from an e-commerce platform or from an internally built system is way outside a marketers’ influence and isn’t anywhere near as easy as extracting a list from your CRM and hitting send.

This is where it gets interesting, Amazon Web Services already plugs into a lot of systems so this barrier is already part overcome. So transactional yes, marketing no – hence me not worrying.

Patricio Robles

Published 26 January, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)


Matt Thornton

Here is yet another example of Amazon branching out and extending their reach to other forms of on line business and commerce. Amazon SES is a good product and will only get better with more investment.

over 5 years ago

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