Sending emails on WPEngine

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Our guide to WPEngine emails

While WPEngine (WPE) manages many parts of our website hosting, default email functionality on WPEngine’s platform is limited. Normal emails, such as password resets, will not typically have any issues sending. However, for robust email functionality, monitoring and scalability, it is highly suggested utilising a 3rd party email host.

This guide will explain email limits, why they impose them, and how to ensure that the website can successfully send email.

WPEngine Email Limits

To ensure server stability WPE imposes a hard limit on the amount of emails that can be sent from their server. In order to prevent abuse of this limit, WPE will not share the exact amount. The limit is enough to send a functional amount of emails such as password resets, but will not support a full email campaign. For robust email functionality, monitoring and scalability, WPE highly suggests customers utilise a 3rd Party email host such as Gmail or MailChimp which have their own email API. There are several primary reasons why:

  1. If any emails sent are flagged as spam, this is reflected back on the IP address that the email is sent from, in this case, WPE’s IP. If those IP addresses ever get blocklisted for spam, it will adversely affect a large number of their customers.
  2. When you send an email blast, you also want to ensure deliverability and tracking.
  3. Default WordPress emails are generated by a command line service. The service generating these emails is generic and doesn’t actually allow WPE to manage and ensure deliverability. This is why they recommend the use of a 3rd party managed SMTP provider.
  4. WPEngine’s servers are not optimised for sending mail.
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Recommended Email Hosts

WPE typically recommends using a 3rd party transactional mail provider such as Mailgun, Gmail, or Sendinblue. These services allow you to send emails from a specialised mail IP and will include a higher level of customisation, such as more robust logging.

Ensuring email deliverability is one of their top priorities, just like managing website performance is one of WPEngine’s.

General SMTP Configuration

  1. Sign up with your desired email host
  2. Perform any necessary domain validation to activate their services
  3. Install and activate a compatible SMTP plugin
    1. Email services that run using an API typically have their own plugin
    2. We recommend the plugins WP Mail SMTP or Post SMTP for those email services that don’t offer their own plugin
  4. Your SMTP plugin options should appear similar to this: https://i.imgur.com/RZlWXYk.png.
  5. Fill in your SMTP options with the host, port, encryption, and authentication details provided by your email host
    – SMTP Host
    – SMTP Port: Auto generated when you choose TLS encryption
    – Authentication: YES
    – SMTP Username: (Preferred Email Address, should be a physical email)
    – SMTP Password: (Password of the email address used)
  6. Save your changes

NOTE: WP Engine’s infrastructure providers (Google and AWS) do not allow mail to be sent over port 25. Any 3rd party provider must support sending emails over alternate ports or via an API.

  • – Port 2525 is recommended
  • – Ports 587 and 465 are allowed
  • – Microsoft Office 365 can only use port 587

Email Authentication Records (DKIM, DMARC, SPF)

DMARC – Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance

DMARC policies are set with your DNS host as a TXT record. The values you set in the TXT record make up the DMARC policy. DMARC TXT records adhere to a tag=value;tag=value format. There are a number of DMARC tags that can be used when configuring your DMARC records. See DMARC documentation for more information.

The DMARC documentation gives the following example TXT record for “sender.dmarcdomain.com”:

v=DMARC1;p=reject;pct=100;rua=mailto:[email protected]

Below is what this record means.

  • 1. v=DMARC1 is the type of TXT record, or protocol version. We are using DMARC1 as the value in this scenario.
  • 2. p=reject is the action that should be taken by recipients if a message they received does not align with SPF and DKIM records. In this case the record says to reject any messages that do not align with the policy.
  • 3. pct=100 is the percentage of emails that are subject to filtering by recipients. In this example, 100% of emails should be filtered.
  • 4. rua=mailto:[email protected] says to send the aggregate reports generated to the [email protected] email address.

DMARC is configured with your DNS provider, Five by Five can help you out with this if we either host your DNS records or we have access to your DNS host, if hosted externally.

DMARC is also now a requirement for authentication specifically for Gmail and Yahoo email users

Gmail and Yahoo will start requiring DMARC for all bulk senders who send more than 5,000 messages a day, but even if you aren’t sending at that volume, we encourage you to set up DMARC anyway. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how you can set up DMARC for your domain. Gmail and Yahoo don’t require strict DMARC policies, so you can get started with a “p=none” policy. With that policy in place, you can start monitoring who is sending emails using your domain without receivers taking any action just yet.

For Gmail users, it is highly recommended to register your domain with Google’s Postmaster Tools here https://support.google.com/mail/answer/9981691?hl=en&ref_topic=6259779&sjid=11226422159337736043-EU.

The generated data that you can use for monitoring as well as helping you maintain and keep track of your spam complaint rate.

SPF - Sender Policy Framework

WP Engine servers use the email relay service MailChannels to deliver emails sent from WordPress. As such, we highly recommend allowing listing emails sent through MailChannels in your SPF records.

An SPF record is set as a TXT record similar to DMARC, like so:

v=spf1 include:relay.mailchannels.net ~all

If you already have an SPF record, simply add the MailChannels relay to the existing record rather than adding a separate record. For example: v=spf1 include:sendgrid.net include:mailgun.org include:relay.mailchannels.net ~all

DKIM (Domain Keys Identified Mail)

This record authenticates an email message and notes if it was truly sent from your domain. Setting up DKIM involves determining which domains are approved to send mail for you, and then generating a public/private key pair.

As WPEngine does not host your email records, Five by Five or WPEngine does not have this record. This can be obtained from your current email host, usually generated from your email host’s admin dashboard. Five by Five can assist in generating this but you would need to provide us access to the admin dashboard.

Tools for Checking Email Authentication Records

  1. https://redsift.com/tools/investigate
  2. https://mxtoolbox.com/SuperTool.aspx
  3. https://dmarcian.com/dmarc-inspector/
  4. https://dmarcian.com/dkim-inspector/
  5. https://dmarcian.com/spf-survey/

Email sending and receiving issues from the website can be rooted from a wide range of causes. It is highly suggested to use a 3rd party SMTP provider to resolve issues specifically for sending emails from the website and to have more efficient email deliverability. Adding email domain authentication records is a MUST to ensure proper email deliverability and to avoid directing email messages to spam or junk folders. Email issues are generally beyond Five by Five’s support boundaries but we can definitely assist where we can.

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