This post is about Sendy setup problems and solutions. In this post, I’m going to start by quickly reminding you what Sendy actually is, and then talk about the common problems that people run into when installing the application onto a web server. Finally, I will talk about how EasySendy can help with setting up Sendy and maintaining it to keep it running smoothly.
Sendy is a great alternative to professional email marketing services such as Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, which enables you to send emails at a fraction of the cost. This is because it uses the Simple Email Service (SES) from Amazon, which is part of the Amazon Web Services. Also, Sendy is inhouse hosted solution for a company.
Amazon sends more emails in a day than most of us will send in our entire lives (probably), so they have built a huge infrastructure to make this as economical as possible. They make this infrastructure available for their customers to use at a small cost (per email). This works out much, much cheaper than available email marketing solutions – SES is 100 times cheaper, in fact!
Price is not the only advantage – when things are set up properly, SES can give you very high delivery rates for your emails. This is because of intelligent filters which Amazon SES has, this topic, I have discussed in this post – MailChimp vs Amazon SES – Save Huge Dollars on Email.
SES does not have a simple user interface for sending emails. It is designed for other software to plug into.
Sendy provides an interface with all of the features of a top end email marketing system such as Mailchimp, GetResponse, Constant Contact, etc. It runs off of a web server, and it sends bulk emails via SES SMTP Gateway.
Hosting Sendy on own Server
Getting Sendy to work is a 3 step process, and each step has its own set of challenges.
1. The first step is installing Sendy onto the web server.
2. The second step is getting Sendy to work with SES.
3. Then, if you want to reach the maximum delivery rates for your emails, you need to tune up the server settings to perform at its best with Sendy.
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1. Installing Sendy on Server:
The Sendy setup quick start guide goes over this process step by step (except for the last part!). Installing the script itself is about as hard as setting up WordPress from scratch. Now, I don’t mean setting up WordPress with a one-click installer. No, I mean building the database, configuring the settings in the files, uploading them and getting them to run on the server. If you have done this many times before, then this part of the process should be plain sailing for you.
2. Some of the problems you might run into are:
Depending on your fluency with understanding server and database technology, you might run with some of the problems:
1. Problems with MySQL including account permissions
2. Errors introduced when you edit the config.php file (this is an actual PHP file, so you could include programming errors by mistake).
3. Problems uploading the files to the server. One thing to watch out for is the hidden .htaccess file. Most computers will not show you this file, but if you fail to upload it, Sendy will not work!
4. Difficulties with file permissions. You must be familiar with the chmod command!
5. Missing PHP extensions – you will need to negotiate with your web host to set these up on your account – in some cases, this will not be possible.
6. Debugging syntax errors – caused by mistakes when editing the config.php file!
7. Debugging database connection errors. They can have several causes, but PHP will not tell you which one it is (for security reasons).
3. Amazon Web Services:
Making sense of Amazon Web Services is hard. AWS is for programmers, and it’s unashamedly technical. You can get very lost, very fast! Sendy uses multiple services from AWS, which must be setup just right for Sendy to work properly. On top level, following AWS services are required – Amazon SES, Amazon SNS, Amazon IAM and Amazon Route 53 is also required in some cases.
4. Cron Job
Something which is not covered on the quick start guide is cron jobs. These are automated tasks which allow your Sendy installation to send emails out on a schedule. Without a cron job, you will not be able to run any drip campaigns or sequential autoresponders!
5. Configuring Your DNS Records for Maximum Deliverability
You will need to setup DKIM and SPF records to improve your delivery. This should be done using the Amazon Route 53 service, or any advanced DNS console so that you can hook into SES to certify emails.
DKIM stands for “DomainKeys Identified Mail.” It’s a system which is designed to detect email spoofing, which is email from a forged email address. This is a typical tactic used with spam and phishing emails.
SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. It’s another system to prevent email spoofing.
Together, these two systems will make your emails much more trustworthy, and less likely to get caught in spam filters.
Are you an expert on Zone files? If not, then do not even attempt this! This has to be done exactly right, as you will be certifying that emails from your domain name are not spam. Errors at this point can have a negative effect, and may kill your deliverability!
You will need to keep a backup of your database in case of corruption. MySQL databases can become corrupted, especially in applications with lots of transactions (updates). Sendy is such an application.
A Simpler Way: EasySendy
EasySendy is a hosting company which makes running Sendy really easy.
Firstly, there is no reason to worry that your hosting company does not have the right version of PHP or the right PHP extensions installed. EasySendy has installed everything that Sendy needs to run properly.
As long as you have purchased Sendy already, they will take care of all of the Sendy setup steps for you! All the steps with config.php, .htaccess, and everything else I mentioned above – done for you!
First of all, they will host and setup Sendy within few minutes and maintain a database for you. The database will be backed up and optimized for efficiency too.
After that you can add Sendy license to the domain name on which it has been configured to use.
They will also configure your AWS account to work with Sendy, filling in all the options required to get SES working with Sendy.
Amazon SNS settings for automated bounced emails and and complaint handling will be configured for you too.
They will setup a cron task to get Sendy to handle scheduled sending for drip campaigns.
They will even configure your domain name’s DKIM and SPF records through Amazon’s Route 53 service, so that your emails achieve maximum deliverability!
This is all in addition to hosting your Sendy install for you! So, this Managed Sendy Hosting a try and focus more on organizing great email campaigns.
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