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How to configure the WP Mail SMTP with Amazon SES Mailer

Do you want Amazon SES to boost your WordPress site’s email delivery? Amazon Simple Email Service is a powerful tool widely used to send business emails. You will use this same tool to ensure that your email is sent safely through the Amazon SES mailer for WP Mail SMTP.

We will give you all the steps you need to configure the Amazon SES mailer in WP Mail SMTP in this tutorial.

What is Amazon SES?

Amazon SES is an e-mail service for businesses. Our focus here is on using their services to improve the distribution of emails sent from your website, but also on creating and sending marketing emails since their inbox delivery rate is considerably higher than other email delivery platforms.

Amazon SES allows you to send upto 65000 emails/month for the first year if you use their EC2 instance to send those emails, good thing is that their EC2 is also free for the first year. Please check the Amazon SES price page for full details.

You need an SSL certificate on your WordPress page in order to be able to use Amazon SES.

It is also a good idea to have an e-mail address with a specific domain (e.g. @yourdomain.com), with this mailing option. This domain e-mail address should be used to set up a WP Mail SMTP on your WordPress site for the most reliable e-mail deliverability.

1. Amazon AWS Account Setup

You will need to register for a free Amazon Web Services or AWS Account before we get started.

Although your account is free and this mailer installation does not require any paid services, when setting up an account, AWS demands that you enter a credit card.

Upon signing up, their program will attempt to determine your region based on your location. If AWS is unsure of your region or if you are equally distant from more than one server location, then it will ask you to select the region manually.

Select a Region in AWS

Create an IAM User

The next move is to set up an IAM User now that you have created an account in Amazon Web Services. This gives you access keys that are later needed.

To open Amazon Web Services ‘ IAM users site, you will need to first click on this link.

Click the Add User button on this page.

Select a Region in AWS Add New User in IAM for AWS

Next, you’ll set up a new user. In the User Name field, you can add any name you’d like. However, we recommend using the following name format:

yourdomain_wpmailsmtp

For example, we’d use this user name for WPForms.com: wpformscom_wpmailsmtp. This helps you to monitor which page is connected to each user, as well as edit different users if needed, if you need additional users along the way.

Search the Programmatic Access box for the Access type.

Click the Next: Permissions button when you are ready.

First, for this new user you’ll set permissions. Select Attach existing policies directly from the top row of boxes.

Then type “AmazonSESFullAccess” (no quotes) in the search bar. Only one result “AmazonSESFullAccess” will remain. Make sure that you check the next box so that this permission is added for the user.

Click the Next: tags button when you are ready to move on. You can also click “Next: Review” button, we’ll skip the following page.

On the next page all the details you selected for this user will be displayed. You can double-check if all appears right and then click the Create User button.

A success message should now be shown by AWS. You will also see the user’s Access Key ID and Hidden Access Key. Make sure you take a moment to securely copy these.

This tab / window can also be kept open for now, as we will use those keys a little later.

2. Switching AWS to Production Mode

All SES accounts of Amazon are set to Sandbox Mode by default. That is very restrictive because it only allows your account to send emails to Amazon confirmed email addresses. In this stage, we’ll show you how to switch to production from Sandbox Mode to send emails to anyone.

You will need to open this link to start creating a request with Amazon Web Services.

Make sure the service limit increase is selected in the top row of boxes.

First, the Case Classification Form needs to be completed. This is an important step, as Amazon uses it to stop using spammers. The form informs Amazon SES basically how you send your emails for legitimate purposes.

For this form we have shared all the details you need:

  • Limit Type: SES Sending Limits
  • Mail Type: Transactional
  • Website URL: Your site’s home URL
  • My email-sending complies with the AWS Service Terms and AUP: Yes
  • I only send to recipients who have specifically requested my mail: Yes
  • I have a process to handle bounces and complaints: Yes
  • Region: Choose the same region as when you set up your AWS account (whichever is closest to where your site’s server is located).
  • Limit: Desired Daily Sending Quota
  • New limit value: Estimate the maximum number of emails you expect your site to send per day.

Eventually, the Use Case Description will have to be completed. Share information in this field of which type of Web site you have and why e-mails should be sent. Please include your e-mail types (e.g. confirmations of submission of form, receipts of purchase etc). Try to be quite precise here, because if Amazon think sufficient information has not been given, it might deny your request.

After completing all of these items, continue and click the Submit button.

You should receive two Amazon Web Services e-mails immediately after submission. Both will just confirm that they have created a new case for you.

AWS typically checks applications and informs you of the outcome within a working day. In the meantime, however, you can continue with the next setup steps.

3. WP Mail SMTP Settings

You can set up WP Mail SMTP on your WordPress page while you are waiting for AWS to approve your case.

Before we start, please ensure WP Mail SMTP on your site is installed and activated.

When the plugin has been installed go to the WP Mail SMTP » Settings.

You’ll see a From Email option at the top of the Settings page. Any valid email address can be used for for the the From Email. We do recommend that you use a domain e-mail address for the best results (ie [email protected]).

The box marked Force from Email can also be checked. This choice will save you trouble changing the settings for e-mail around your page (in every e-mail form, etc). if you want the E-mail to be the same through your website.

You may set the From Name below the Address. This is the address name and will be determined by the name of your page by definition. This can be adjusted to any value you want. The Force From Name option can also be checked to apply this setting site-wide.

First, scroll to the mailer field and choose the Amazon SES option.

We recommend that you check the optional Return Path to Set the return path to match the From Address. It helps you to address if there are emails that bounce due to email issues with the receiver.

After selecting Amazon SES, you will now see a new section called Amazon SES. Here, you will need to add the access keys you created earlier in your AWS account. Go ahead and copy in Secret Access Password Key ID.

You can check the region field once your keys are in place. A region has already been preselected to suit what you have chosen in the Amazon SES region based on where your website hosting is located.

Tap Save Settings now that you have added all your WP Mail SMTP settings.

An additional setting should appear after you have saved: Verified Emails. You will add any emails you might want to use on your page as a From Account.

Click Add an Email Address to add a new verified email.

There is an overlay and only one email address at a time can be added. You will be shown a note where you can search the email box for a confirmation email after you have clicked the Send Confirmation Email button.

4. Test Email Sending

Now that the setup of your WP Mail SMTP is ready and all emails verified, it is necessary to send a test email to ensure everything works properly. To do this, please make sure that you are on the Settings » WP Mail SMTP page.

You will see on this section that the Send To box already has the address of your website’s email. However any email address you have access to can be entered.

If you’d prefer to send a plain text email to HTML, you can also click on the toggle. However, it is best to test a HTML email (maintain the default) in most sites.

You should see a success message after sending the email.

If you check the inbox for that email address, you should see a test email from your website.

This is it! You have configured your website successfully, and from now on your  WordPress mails will be sent via Amazon SES.

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