A Step-by-Step Guide to Using an SMTP Server as Your Email Sending Service

SMTP email service providers supply communication between computers and smartphones within a particular network. Here's how to use this service in your small business.

Updated July 29, 2020

Most of your online activity is made possible by specialized networking software that regulates the links between your computer or smartphone and the websites you visit.

Whether shopping for goods and services, conducting research, or sending emails, the protocols used are essential to the security, efficiency, and reliability of any network.

As complex as those algorithms are, however, you seldom have to install, manage, or even think about an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). Most of the time, the servers are built right into your devices.

Overview: What is an SMTP service?

SMTP is a computer’s unique procedure for sending messages between two servers. Your average email system sends batches of mail over the internet using an SMTP that’s already installed on the hard drive.

Messages are sent and then retrieved by another entity using either IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) or POP (Post Office Protocol).

SMTP is commonly used to send data from an email client to an email server, and that’s generally why you must furnish both the IMAP or POP and the SMTP server when configuring a new email application.

However, this technology is limited in its message queueing capabilities on the receiving end. It’s generally paired with another SMTP server, which allows users to save messages in a mailbox for later download.

Put another way, people and businesses typically use a simple SMTP for sending messages and either a POP or IMAP for receiving them.

At this time, SMTP email service providers are the most prevalent, but there’s been a recent uptick towards cloud-based protocols, (HTTP APIs). HTTP email APIs can help make communications faster by requiring fewer authentication commands. However, using SMTP still offers many advantages.

Benefits of using an SMTP service provider

SMTP email servers provide the sleekest form of communication between computers and smartphones within a particular network.

Simple yet sophisticated, this email sending service even lets users generate statistical data, which can contribute to greater on-site conversions, so that potential customers move along the funnel to become paying customers.

When comparing email marketing to social media during an email campaign, access to accurate click-through and open rates can be helpful. The benefits don’t end there either.

1. Quick and efficient smarthost campaigning

SMTP streamlines email marketing funnels while increasing productivity and exposure tremendously, especially when automating email campaigns and generating recurring newsletters. You’re not required to configure each machine in the network and only need to sync with the server that’s managing your SMTP relay.

2. Reliable email automation

SMTP will resend emails to the recipient until the transmission succeeds. You can designate dedicated servers to manage outgoing messages and a targeted email list. Email status tracking is also available.

3. Enhanced spam control

Spam messages are counterproductive to your email marketing efforts. SMTP protects your IP reputation by blocking spam from being sent by your server.

4. Effortless setup

SMTP quickly prioritizes email output based on customizable, adjustable objectives like organizational goals, project development, and profit projections.

5. Large file transfers

SMTP is handy for individuals and businesses trying to share a lengthy email. Although email blasts are against best practices for emails, SMTP still lets you segment your recipient lists and messages to target specific groups.

With its straightforward features and user-friendly functionality, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol continues to be the most widely used internet messaging standard in the world.

And while it has some limitations in sending and receiving complex data, SMTP remains popular because most email messages are still text based.

How to send emails with an SMTP service provider

An SMTP system manages the way your email messages transfer from one computer’s mail transfer agent (MTA) to another (or even several others). What many of us don’t realize, however, is that internet service providers (ISPs) often limit the number of emails we can send in a specific time period.

When trying to develop or manage your business email marketing platforms, keep those numbers in mind. Once you hit your limit, your ISP will stop sending messages altogether and shut down your account, identifying you as a spammer.

Email limits vary between ISPs, so check yours before launching any campaign using an SMTP. Business customers are generally limited to around 24,000 emails per day.

When you send emails with an SMTP service provider, follow these five simple steps:

Step 1: Gather and enter the information

This is where you get everything together to use the SMTP. Be sure to access the correct account before changing any settings. Keep in mind, however, most changes are reversible.

Before beginning, gather the following information for the forms you’ll have to fill out:

  • The host name
  • The port
  • The SSL authentication
  • The account information (username, password, etc.)

Set up the protocol to receive services from your SMTP provider by completing the forms required. Fill in these blanks as they relate to your business or email marketing campaign:

  • Project description: Provide an informal description that will help identify you to the server. It’s best to use popular email providers like Gmail, MSN, or Yahoo.
  • Server identification: Type the SMTP server’s unique specification. Find that information on the service provider’s web page or on a POP/SMTP server list.
  • Port choice: Most SMTP functions optimally on port 25, although some are compatible with 587 as well. Check your server specifications for more information.
  • Connection security: SMTP doesn’t usually include email encryption, so secure your connections using STARTTLS or SSL/TLS extensions. You may want to use a different port for encrypted messages.

Step 2: Access the SMTP interface

Each SMTP module is uniquely formatted based on numerous factors, and some email servers require additional information.

If you have problems or believe something is amiss, run a telnet test on the server to troubleshoot or contact customer service. Follow these simple steps next:

  • Select Account Settings, which is usually located inside the Tools dropdown menu. If it’s not there, use the support or search buttons provided by the current server.
  • Choose the Outgoing Server prompt.

Your IP address might play a role in which SMTP networks you can set up, especially if the IP is restricted.

Step 3: Add a new SMTP

You’ll integrate the chosen SMTP here to send and receive your email messages based on a schedule, a preset list, or a marketing campaign. Before adding anything, click on the Mailboxes tab and choose the correct box.

You then scroll down to the area that lists the different SMTP servers and choose Add New. Here, you enter all the required information that was gathered in step one.

  • Test the connection to the new SMTP Server by pressing the TEST SMTP button in the settings menu.
  • Once confirmed, click the Save button and close the setup window.

The newly selected SMTP server should pop up on the mailbox setup screen after you press Save. The server should route all incoming and outgoing emails for your selected mailbox through the configured server.

Step 4: Authenticate your account

For security purposes, you’ll be asked to authenticate your new SMTP account by logging into the server for a verification link.

Do not skip this step because it ensures that your email address, IP address, and online affiliations remain protected. Remember, additional security measures can be added on top of those your SMTP server provides. Authentication is as simple as this:

  • Choose your most convenient and easy-to-remember authentication method.
  • Typical choices include, but are not limited to:
      • Passwords
      • Kerberos
      • Captchas
      • CRAM-MD5
  • Enter the required information for authentication

Usually, SMTP account authentication occurs instantly. However, some servers require two- or three-step processes for more confidential networks.

Step 5: Create an email address

This is the simplest step of all and allows for the most customization. With the new SMTP set up, create a unique email address that communicates your main mission.

You can quickly launch an email marketing campaign or connect instantly with a preselected network using higher messaging limits and more relaxed marketing standards. Simply follow the prompts on your server’s dashboard to send and receive messages..

The Takeaway on SMTP

SMTP may not be your only option, but it’s safe, secure, reliable, efficient, and compatible with most devices. It’s the simplest way to convey information between large groups of consumers, vendors, suppliers, and subscribers.

It serves as a standard for most email marketing campaigns because of its streamlined efficiency.

To use an SMTP for your small business, choose a dedicated or shared IP and then set up your new Simple Message Transfer Protocol using a username, password, SMTP server host ID, and an SMTP port.

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