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Home » Email Automation System structure: All you need to know

Email Automation System structure: All you need to know

Understanding the structure of email automation system could be one thing you may tweak in your business to see an optimal return on investment. If you follow our previous tutorial; you will know that the Return on investment according to big names like; campaignmonitor and constantcontact has been found to be an average of 4400%. What this means is that if you have invested $1 in email marketing you stand the potential to make an average of 44times.

It is very crucial to note here that this is not necessarily the case as different factors determine whether or not you’ll make more or less than $44 on every $1 spent. For instance; in 2021 we at j-insights evaluated the ROI in our email campaign per email sent, and we noticed that our ROI fluctuates around $28 to $36. But we noticed a swift shift in our ROI to around $36 when we tweaked our email automation system to serve our needs. So, what this is telling us is that; understanding the email automation system that suits your need is very crucial to making the most revenue out of any business model you’ve chosen to major in.

Now the question is……. what did we; to record such a swift shift….? We simply tweaked our mailing system to our needs. This helped us to cut down a lot of unnecessary costs we’ve been spending unknowingly. This could necessarily be the case for you right now. Understanding the email automation system will really help you to save a lot of money you would have spent wrongfully ( Who doesn’t want to save money….😯🤷‍♂️?) 

Types of Email Automation System.

Types of email automation system
Types of email automation system

Let’s look into the 3 major types of email marketing automation systems so that you know which is the best for your business for optimal ROI.

  • Fully managed email automation system
  • Custom email automation system
  • Part custom email automation system

Let’s dive deep and see what each of them looks like…But before then it is paramount we understand the components of a fully-functional email automation system. This will help us to understand how everything is networked together to have each peculiar system which we can send emails from.  

Email marketing Components and structure.

Components of email automation system
Components of email automation system

An email marketing automation system is consists of two parts or components

  • The Delivery System
  • The Email marketing application.

Let’s take a look at each of them to see what they look like……

The Delivery System.

This is the most delicate part of the email automation system. The Delivery System also known as the SMTP server is the part of the email system in charge of delivering the messages or campaigns to the mail folder of your email subscribers. It is very important to understand that this is the part that determines your email deliverability or inbox placement. In the delivery system of the email automation structure, there are some technical details that need to be configured correctly. That is if inbox placement is a priority for you. I have written about these technical details in my previous tutorial; where I talked about the 3 DNS records every marketer must know. There I talked about the Sender policy framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mails (DKIM), and the PTR record or RDNS (Reverse DNS).

To the best of my knowledge, these are the only 3 DNS records that must be configured in order to get a 10/10 sending score and potentially reach your subscriber’s inbox if other factors such as; IP warmup, avoiding spammy subject and body, not linking to websites with a track record of spamming etcetera are put in place.

Now…. Are there other technical details or DNS records in the delivery server that must be authenticated to make the delivery system work properly? The answer is yes! Let’s quickly look at them shortly …….

Other Important DNS Records in the Delivery System.

Other DNS records in the delivery network.
Other DNS records in the delivery network.

Aside from the SPF, DKIM, and PTR or RDNS; We have the return part record and the Mail exchange record (MX record). I have also explained this in detail in my other tutorials. You can check our free SMTP crash course to learn more about these records. But, since we’re talking about the delivery system here; let’s just do justice to the important one known as The mail exchange record or the MX record.

As the name implies, this is the record that helps you to receive emails and route or reroute emails to any server you want, hence allowing you to receive emails. If you don’t have the MX record properly configured on your server, you will not receive emails. For instance; if you use postal as your mail transfer agent; you can attest that postal does not receive emails. You have to route any incoming email inside an external server with a control panel say Cpanel or cyberpanel installed on it. This could be a shared server or a virtual private server. If you want to learn more about How these networking work you can watch the video below…..

What is SMTP and how does it work.

what is SMTP and how does it work?
what is SMTP and how does it work?

SMTP is short for simple mail transfer protocol. It is the delivery system of the email automation system. Let’s know how Mail transfer agents or SMTP send emails over the internet. First let’s see how things work with email clients like Gmail, yahoo, outlook, Hotmail etcetera. When you open a Gmail, outlook, yahoo, or outlook account; you have access to their respective SMTP servers which will help you to send messages to another user from the same email client or a different one. Take a look at this scenario….. You signed in to your Gmail account and typed a message to be sent to an outlook or yahoo account.

What is happening in the background is that; the Gmail SMTP will send your message to the target yahoo or outlook address. Once the email gets to the receiving server, it is authenticated by the requirements of the receiving server. Most email clients require you to configure the 3 most important DNS records which are: Sender policy framework (SPF), Domain keys identified mail (Dkim), Reverse DNS, or the PTR record. This is the same thing that happens when you have your own custom email marketing system.

Why you have to Configure your DNS Records

You have to configure all these details to ensure you get a high sending score; which conversely translates to a good inbox delivery when other email deliverability rules are in place. Any error in the configuration of these details will make the receiving server reject incoming emails from your server especially when you don’t configure RDNS. Configuring RDNS is the inverse of domain mapping. it is the process of mapping a public IP address to a domain. Although this is not important for webservers to be reached when we are hosting a website. A website can still be reached if the RDNS isn’t configured.

RDNS in Webhosting and Mail Servers

Configuring RDNS in web hosting to track the origin of an IP address accessing resources in another public IP address. Knowing the origin of the IP address will give you accurate information to know both the country the traffic was coming from including what device such traffic is coming from. This is mostly used for retargeting in advertising. This helps any ad platform that integrates with the google search console to retarget or target the lookalike audience for the country where most of your visitors are coming from.

Unlike in web hosting, RDNS is a must configure for mail servers. A lot of email clients already have systems in place to auto-reject emails coming from mail servers with no RDNS or PTR record configuration. The reason they are doing this is very simple. According to Forbes; 320 billion spam emails are sent every day and 94% of all malware circulating the world today is delivered via spam medium.

Today’s spam filters are very intelligent. They can smell spam patterns microseconds away. Once these spam patterns are identified by email clients’ spam filters; they use the power or Reverse DNS ( RDNS ) lookup to query the IP of the mail servers or servers where the spam originated from. This will help them to immediately block emails from your server or domain. This will protect their customer from spam emails, malware, and scams. So, RDNS and other sensitive technical details are must be configured. We will discuss these technical details much later in this tutorial…. Let’s keep going….

What are POP3 and IMAP?

POP3 is short for Post office protocol 3 while IMAP stands for Internet message access protocol. POP3 and IMAP are internet protocols used for retrieving emails from an email server. When you send a message from your SMTP server to a target email address; the message is stuck on that server until you open the associated email address. Here we are going to look into the two different ways we can use to retrieve emails from a receiving server which are; POP3 and IMAP

What is POP3? 

POP3 is the easiest and simplest form of email retrieval protocol. What POP3 does is download the emails from the receiving email server to your inbox only. It doesn’t do any form of folder synchronization meaning that the folders structures are different on different devices. For instance: If you create a custom folder on one device, it won’t be synced with other of the devices you control.

When you use two computers to access the same email account the first computer will be the first to download the email on the server hence, you won’t see the same email when you access the same email account with the second computer. The emails are auto-deleted from your server and downloaded to the first computer that accessed them. Pop3 never synchronizes other folders on your computer. Although; you also have the option to check if you want a copy of your email to be left on the server. This will make it possible for other computers that you accessed the account to be able to download it. Despite all, it is still only an inbox thing and has nothing to do with other folders.

Advantages of POP3

  1. POP3 is good where downloading emails to a single computer is of importance. It is absolutely viewable without an internet connection.
  2. The only time you need an internet connection in POP3 is when you are receiving or sending emails.
  3. It saves storage spaces in the mail servers since the emails are downloaded and auto-deleted. This helps to prevent server logging which at critical points translates to a slow server, meaning low sending speed.

Disadvantages of POP3

  1. Since your emails are not on the mail server, you have to make an alternative arrangement for backing up your emails on your local computer.
  2. Your Device is more vulnerable to viruses since the emails are fully downloaded.

What is IMAP? 

IMAP is also used for retrieving emails from the receiving mail server but it is a bit different from pop3. It allows you to view email on the receiving server with multiple devices. The email is left on the server and it caches local copies of the email on multiple devices. It synchronizes all your folders meaning all folders structures are the same for all devices; including any custom folder you might have created. Deleting emails on any of the computers means deleting them from all your devices including the mail server. You have the option to set IMAP to download the emails instead of caching them locally on all devices.

Advantages of IMAP

  1. All the emails are stored on the Mail servers hence backing up your emails is optional.
  2. You will be able to see all your emails, including your sent items, draft, deleted items, and any custom folder you’ve created.
  3. All email folders are synchronized.

Disadvantages of IMAP

  1. Emails are not viewable without an internet connection (This is because IMAP caches local copies of the emails on your devices instead of downloading them). Although; some email clients also give you an option to check to have IMAP download the emails to your devices instead of just caching them locally.

What is the difference between pop3 and IMAP? 

The major difference between pop3 to IMAP is that pop3 only downloads email from the mail server to the inbox. It does not download or synchronize other mail folders. You have an option in the settings to leave a copy of the email on the mail server. Mind you, since pop3 downloads the inbox only if you check the setting to leave a copy of the email on the server, you are referring to the inbox. You are leaving a copy of the inbox content on the server.

In contrast, IMAP synchronizes all your folders in the inbox and you can access all the folders’ contents with multiple devices. If you delete it on one device it will be deleted on all devices. You can access more of these differences to know the one best for you in the ‘advantages and disadvantages‘ part of POP3 and IMAP above. Watch the video below to understand practically what is POP3 and IMAP …..

What are POP3 and IMAP?

Our time is spent. Let’s move more swiftly to the email marketing application component of the email automation system…..continue reading…..

The Email Marketing Application

email automation system
Email marketing application

The second component of the email marketing system is the Email marketing application. This is the place where you can manage your email list, send campaigns, and track clicks and subscriber behavior. There is a lot of software that can help you connect to external SMTP like mailgun, sparkpost, amazon ses, or even with your own custom, VPS installed MTA like postal, powerMTA etcetera. Examples of such software are Mailwizz, Mautic, moosend, sendblaster, mailtester.

There is a lot of other software that can serve this same purpose but the ones listed above are the ones we’ve used and can testify are great. We use mailwizz a lot at j-insights and I’ve made an in-depth tutorial on how you can install mailwizz both in both shared hosting ( if your host allows the installation of the script in their server ) and the VPS server. You can check them out if you want. To install mailwizz in a VPS server checkout our free SMTP crash course. I showed everything from building your own custom email server to installing mailwizz. You can also watch the video below to see how you can install mailwizz practically on a virtual private server (VPS)

https://youtu.be/TWFbM2f5U5A
How to install Mailwizz on a VPS server with cyberpanel.

Now that we have understood that a fully functional email marketing system is consist of two parts; The SMTP part also known as the delivery system and the email marketing application. Let’s look into the 3 structures of the email automation system so that you can know the one that is best for your business. Shall we? Let’s go …..

The managed email marketing system. 

This is a fully integrated system in which both the SMTP ( the delivery network ) and the mailing application are integrated as one platform. In managed email marketing system; you don’t have to worry about building your own custom SMTP server or getting a third SMTP server from SMTP companies like mailgun, amazon ses, sparkpost etcetera. All you just need to do is to signup with a fully integrated system like getresponse, system.io, active campaign, Mailchimp, etc. Here you don’t have to worry about any breaks in technical details like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, MX record, and others. They will help you manage everything including tracking your campaign stats like open rate and click-through rate.

The Managed System Explained

Although when you sign up for a fully integrated system there is always a verification process you have to go through. This verification is very simple and involves adding some DNS records given to you by the company when you signup to add to the DNS zone of your domain. This serves to verify your right ownership of the domain. Once this verification is established in your end of the spectrum; other server technical details verifications such as SPF, DKIM, RDNS, DMARC, google verification ( for good inbox delivery for Gmail accounts ), MX record etcetera will be taken care of by the company and you don’t have to worry about anything. This is the easiest structure of an email automation system. it is newbie-friendly with the less technical hassle.

In managed email marketing system; if you face any technical issue ( which rarely happens) all you just need to do is to contact the support system of the company and everything will be resolved for you. I always advise newbies with zero knowledge about email marking to start with this system, especially with their free plan. This will help you to understand how email marketing work in general.

The few disadvantages of this are that since they help you manage everything at the server level; they charge you a highly ridiculous high amount as your list increases. The free plans also have a lot of restrictions; you stand a high chance of getting banned if emails sent from your domain record a high bounce rate.

How to Lower High Bounce Rate

You may be asking why would they ban you?…. This is because; if they don’t their server bounce rate will increase and their sending shared IPs will be blacklisted in the different spamhauses. This will also affect the email deliverability of others who are sending emails with the same shared IP as you. So they’re right for banning you if emails from your server are causing a high bounce rate to their servers.

To lower your bounce rate and stand a very low chance of being banned by these email marketing companies I recommend you use services like debounce or zerobounce to routinely validate your emails list. This will ensure you are sending to real subscribers and emails. In general, you might experience a few deliverability issues with a fully integrated system because; you are not the only one sending with those IPs. That is why it is crucially important to use email marketing companies such as getresponse, Systeme.io, activecampaign which have up to 99% email deliverability. They were able to accumulate such a great sending reputation because of their strict rules against spam. Generally, this type of system is very good for people with less technical skill

The custom email marketing system

A custom email marketing system is the most flexible but technical structure of an email automation system. It involves setting up an SMTP server and email marketing application by yourself. By doing this you have all your sending IP addresses assigned to your sending domain. This is unlike managed platforms where you have to be paired on the same IP address with other people. The advantage of having a custom email marketing system is that you can use it to promote literally anything you want; things that wouldn’t have been possible with managed systems. I have seen folks use a custom email automation system to promote pornographic content. I’m not telling you to promote such but; I’m telling you that you can literally promote anything with your own custom server. To learn how to set up this system you can watch the two videos below:

https://youtu.be/57y9Lf03zx8
Set up a Custom email system from scratch.
https://youtu.be/z1d3xpJUhZQ
A full practical tutorial on how to build a custom email marketing system.

The question now is how do we go about getting this up and running? Though it is more technically demanding and requires some kind of maintenance. But I have made a step-by-step-over-shoulder tutorial that can help you configure these technical details. This will also equip you with the knowledge to maintain an SMTP against future break-in technical details like SPF, DKIM, RDNS, DMARC, google verification, return path, MX record etcetera. You can check it out if you want. And if you are wondering why you must configure these technical detail and what they all mean in the server level of email deliverability, refer to our previous tutorial here.

Part custom email automation system

This is the third on our list of structures for an email automation system. In this type of email system setup, we only install our mailing application in say shared hosting or VPS. Then we can get a third-party SMTP server from SMTP companies like mailgun, amazon ses, sparkpost. By doing this you don’t have to worry about configuring and maintaining technician details. The SMTP company will help you ensure the delivery part is working flawlessly; provided you obey other email deliverability rules such as no spam subject and content, maintaining a minimal server bounce rate by validating your list frequently; and sending to only existent emails.

Now that we have understood the structure of the email automation system…let’s dive deep and know the best option and scenario that is best for your current business. In other to know the one that best suits your need; you need to understand the type of email marketer you are. We have hinted at the types of email marketers under the types of email marketing in our previous tutorial; you can go check it if you want. But for the sake of this tutorial we are gonna re-visit them. If you want an in-depth breakdown of the types of email marketers please check out our previous tutorial here

Types of email marketers 

email automation system
Types of email marketers

There are 3 types of email marketers ….. They are ….

  • Traditional emailing marketer
  • Cold email marketer
  • Bulk email marketer

Traditional email marketer

I prefer a traditional email marketer as a genuine email marketer or sender. Traditional email marketers are the type of email marketers who genuinely collects emails by allowing their customers or subscribers to willingly give them their emails. This can be done by providing highly valuable resources for your target audience. The emails can be collected through a highly converting landing page or email popups just like the one that appeared as you’re reading this. You can go subscribe now if you haven’t so that you don’t miss any of my updates.

As a traditional email marketer; you have the flexibility of using any of the three structures of the email automation systems we’ve discussed above.

Cold email Marketer

I also refer to cold email marketers as smart email marketers. In cold mailing, you can extract or make a list of emails of targeted audiences that will be interested in your services or products. It is very important to understand that the goal of cold mailing isn’t to make a sale immediately but to establish a relationship. it is more of brand awareness than making immediate sales. Unlike traditional email marketers who genuinely got their subscribers from their subscribers by exchanging highly valuable resources, cold email marketers got theirs through contact research, or by using services such as hunter.io. So, no consent was established by the owners of those emails and no exchange of values has been established for having those emails.

This is why sending promotional emails when you are doing cold mailing is very wrong. You will have a very high chance of those email owners reporting emails from your domain as spam. You can start by educating them about how they can improve their brand or services. In the middle of the conversation, you can mention your products or services. This is if you really know that it is going to be of help to their business. This will not sound salesy or pushy as this will be on their subconscious level. What is really happening psychologically here is that; even if they didn’t buy from you immediately they might buy later or have someone in their network and they will refer them to your products or services. This is how things work….. Catch the drift …let’s go…

What is the Best Option for Cold Mailing

Since cold mailing has the substantial potential of being reported as spam. No managed or fully integrated email marketing company like systeme.io, getresponse, activecampaign will accept this type of email marketing. You only have the option of building your own custom email marketing system or buying a third-party SMTP from companies like amazon ses, mailgun, sparkpost. Then you can connect the SMTP credentials to your own mailing application like mailwizz, moosend, mailster, sandblaster etcetera. These third-party SMTP services are ridiculously cheap for instance you can send up to100k emails for just $10. You can set up these systems by following the videos above on this page.

But in all; you got to be careful when doing your cold mailing because; you might get your server blacklisted if a larger percentage of people you are reaching out to are reporting your emails as spam. If you are combining your own software with a third-party SMTP; the third-party SMTP might block your domain from sending further emails because you are causing a low sending score to their servers. But the advantage of using your own custom email marketing companies or combining a third-party SMTP with your own self-hosted software is that; in the event of a domain block, you’ll still have access to your email list. This is unlike the managed system where you stand the risk of losing your email list if you face any ban for falling multiple email deliverability rules.

Bulk email marketer

This is the last type of email marketers on our list. Bulk mailers are very much similar to cold mailers. The only difference is that bulk mailing is all about promotion. Bulk mailers don’t care about building relationships to maybe initiate a long-term sale. This is the reason why they are referred to as spammers and rightfully so. While cold mailers might be interested in email validation to reduce bounce rate and send to existent emails, bulk mailers are not necessarily concerned about email validation after email hunting and scrapping. They just run campaigns to get clicks to may be affiliate links of CPA offers. As a result of this; there is always a resultant high bounce rate from servers that bulk mailers are using to run their campaigns.

Option For Bulk Mailers

So, the question now is …..what choice is left for us if we want to go into bulk mailing? Truth be told, bulk mailing is still highly effective and that doesn’t mean you’re not a spammer if you are a bulk mailer. No managed company or SMTP company can accept bulk email marketing. You have to build your own SMTP server from scratch and connect it to your software. You will be the one to ensure all the technical details are configured to get a 10/10 sending score. Aside from the configuration, you have to warm up the SMTP server either manually or any automated reporting concept of your choice before you start cold mailing otherwise your emails will still wind up in the spam folder.

Anytime I set up a custom email automation system I use warmupinbox to warm up my servers. I have to be this blunt so that you can understand how things work and get the best result from your email campaigns; irrespective of the type of email marketer you are. Setting up a custom SMTP server for the best result for your cold and bulk mailing is quite easy. You just need a maximum of two days to configure everything and the system will be ready to go. I had to say 2 days but I can actually set up a full custom email marketing system; both the SMTP and the email marketing application for 5 hours. This is to tell you how simple things really are.

If you are interested in creating your own custom email automation system from scratch; you can check our free SMTP crash course.

My Advice For Cold and Bulk Mailers

Given that Cold mailing and bulk mailing are delicate and require you to do it carefully to avoid server and domain blacklist. You have to ensure you use the best cold and bulk mailing templates that have been proven to convert with almost zero spam patterns. It is very crucially important to send emails in small badges. Let’s say today you can send 100 emails, tomorrow you send another 100, and so on. This not only helps your servers and domains not to get blacklisted. It also helps you to monitor your campaigns and reply to those that are responsive to your campaigns.

My Recommendation

My little advice in this whole thing is that; if you are a complete newbie and know nothing about email marketing; I advise you to go with the free plans of the managed email automation system. This will help you to have a general understanding of how email marketing work. With time you can transition to a more complex email automation system like; the custom email automation system of the part custom email automation system.

If you already know little about email marketing and you want to want to save some cost for yourself; you can buy a third-party SMTP from amazon ses or mailgun and connect to your mailing application and run your campaigns.

Also if you are already experienced in email marketing and looking to send unlimited emails while saving costs; you can go with a custom email marketing system. With this, you can send unlimited emails for as low as $12. All you have to do is to get two $6 VPS machines from companies like ovhcloud or contabo. Use one to configure the SMTP and the other one for installing your mailing applications.

In all things; if you are already making good money in your business you can just go for a managed email automation system. There is a saying which goes; time is money…what is the point of wasting time managing technicalities while you can just pay email automation companies to do the job for you? This will make you focus more on research and improving your business? That is just it friends.

Conclusion

We all know the power of email in today’s world of business. It is important to understand the type of email marketer you are. This will help to shape your knowledge in choosing the best email automation system that is best for your current budget and business. This will conversely help to increase your overall ROI margin. To this end, we are done.

Let me know what your biggest takeaway from this tutorial was. Comment them in the comment section below; including anything you don’t understand and ill be waiting for you to answer them all.

You can also submit your questions in our forum and I’ll be there and my team to address your questions every day. Thanks again for stopping by and reading through my blog. See you in the next tutorial.

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