Tag Archives: Amazon Simple Email Service

Serverless IoT email capture, attachment processing, and distribution

Post Syndicated from Stacy Conant original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/serverless-iot-email-capture-attachment-processing-and-distribution/

Many customers need to automate email notifications to a broad and diverse set of email recipients, sometimes from a sensor network with a variety of monitoring capabilities. Many sensor monitoring software products include an SMTP client to achieve this goal. However, managing email server infrastructure requires specialty expertise and operating an email server comes with additional cost and inherent risk of breach, spam, and storage management. Organizations also need to manage distribution of attachments, which could be large and potentially contain exploits or viruses. For IoT use cases, diagnostic data relevance quickly expires, necessitating retention policies to regularly delete content.

Solution Overview

This solution uses the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) SMTP interface to receive SMTP client messages, and processes the message to replace an attachment with a pre-signed URL in the resulting email to its intended recipients. Attachments are stored separately in an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket with a lifecycle policy implemented. This reduces the storage requirements of recipient email server receiving notification emails. Additionally, this solution leverages built-in anti-spam and security scanning capabilities to deal with spam and potentially malicious attachments while at the same time providing the mechanism by which pre-signed attachment links can be revoked should the emails be distributed to unintended recipients.

The solution uses:

  • Amazon SES SMTP interface to receive incoming emails.
  • Amazon SES receipt rule on a (sub)domain controlled by administrators, to store raw incoming emails in an Amazon S3 bucket.
  • AWS Lambda function, triggered on S3 ObjectCreated event, to process raw emails, extract attachments, replace each with pre-signed URL with configurable expiry, and send the processed emails to intended recipients.

Solution Flow Details:

  1. SMTP client transmits email content to an email address in a (sub) domain with MX record set to Amazon SES service’s regional endpoint.
  2. Amazon SES SMTP interface receives an email and forwards it to SES Receipt Rule(s) for processing.
  3. A matching Amazon SES Receipt Rule saves incoming email into an Amazon S3 Bucket.
  4. Amazon S3 Bucket emits an S3 ObjectCreated Event, and places the event onto the Amazon Simple Queue Services (SQS) queue.
  5. The AWS Lambda service polls the inbound messages’ SQS queue and feeds events to the Lambda function.
  6. The Lambda function, retrieves email files from the S3 bucket, parses the email sender/subject/body, saves attachments to a separate attachment S3 bucket (7), and replaces attachments with pre-signed URLs in the email body. The Lambda function then extracts intended recipient addresses from the email body. If the body contains properly formatted recipients list, email is then sent using SES API (9), otherwise a notice is posted to a fallback Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) Topic (8).
  7. The Lambda function saves extracted attachments, if any, into an attachments bucket.
  8. Malformed email notifications are posted to a fallback Amazon SNS Topic.
  9. The Lambda function invokes Amazon SES API to send the processed email to all intended recipient addresses.
  10. If the Lambda function is unable to process email successfully, the inbound message is placed on to the SQS dead-letter queue (DLQ) queue for later intervention by the operator.
  11. SES delivers an email to each recipients’ mail server.
  12. Intended recipients download emails from their corporate mail servers and retrieve attachments from the S3 pre-signed URL(s) embedded in the email body.
  13. An alarm is triggered and a notification is published to Amazon SNS Alarms Topic whenever:
    • More than 50 failed messages are in the DLQ.
    • Oldest message on incoming SQS queue is older than 3 minutes – unable to keep up with inbound messages (flooding).
    • The incoming SQS queue contains over 180 messages (configurable) over 5 minutes old.

Setting up Amazon SES

For this solution you will need an email account where you can receive emails. You’ll also need a (sub)domain for which you control the mail exchanger (MX) record. You can obtain your (sub)domain either from Amazon Route53 or another domain hosting provider.

Verify the sender email address

You’ll need to follow the instructions to Verify an email address for all identities that you use as “From”, “Source”, ” Sender”, or “Return-Path” addresses. You’ll also need to follow these instructions for any identities you wish to send emails to during initial testing while your SES account is in the “Sandbox” (see next “Moving out of the SES Sandbox” section).

Moving out of the SES Sandbox

Amazon SES accounts are “in the Sandbox” by default, limiting email sending only to verified identities. AWS does this to prevent fraud and abuse as well as protecting your reputation as an email sender. When your account leaves the Sandbox, SES can send email to any recipient, regardless of whether the recipient’s address or domain is verified by SES. However, you still have to verify all identities that you use as “From”, “Source”, “Sender”, or “Return-Path” addresses.
Follow the Moving out of the SES Sandbox instructions in the SES Developer Guide. Approval is usually within 24 hours.

Set up the SES SMTP interface

Follow the workshop lab instructions to set up email sending from your SMTP client using the SES SMTP interface. Once you’ve completed this step, your SMTP client can open authenticated sessions with the SES SMTP interface and send emails. The workshop will guide you through the following steps:

  1. Create SMTP credentials for your SES account.
    • IMPORTANT: Never share SMTP credentials with unauthorized individuals. Anyone with these credentials can send as many SMTP requests and in whatever format/content they choose. This may result in end-users receiving emails with malicious content, administrative/operations overload, and unbounded AWS charges.
  2. Test your connection to ensure you can send emails.
  3. Authenticate using the SMTP credentials generated in step 1 and then send a test email from an SMTP client.

Verify your email domain and bounce notifications with Amazon SES

In order to replace email attachments with a pre-signed URL and other application logic, you’ll need to set up SES to receive emails on a domain or subdomain you control.

  1. Verify the domain that you want to use for receiving emails.
  2. Publish a mail exchanger record (MX record) and include the Amazon SES inbound receiving endpoint for your AWS region ( e.g. inbound-smtp.us-east-1.amazonaws.com for US East Northern Virginia) in the domain DNS configuration.
  3. Amazon SES automatically manages the bounce notifications whenever recipient email is not deliverable. Follow the Set up notifications for bounces and complaints guide to setup bounce notifications.

Deploying the solution

The solution is implemented using AWS CDK with Python. First clone the solution repository to your local machine or Cloud9 development environment. Then deploy the solution by entering the following commands into your terminal:

python -m venv .venv
. ./venv/bin/activate
pip install -r requirements.txt

cdk deploy \
--context SenderEmail=<verified sender email> \
 --context RecipientEmail=<recipient email address> \
 --context ConfigurationSetName=<configuration set name>

Note:

The RecipientEmail CDK context parameter in the cdk deploy command above can be any email address in the domain you verified as part of the Verify the domain step. In other words, if the verified domain is acme-corp.com, then the emails can be [email protected], [email protected], etc.

The ConfigurationSetName CDK context can be obtained by navigating to Identities in Amazon SES console, selecting the verified domain (same as above), switching to “Configuration set” tab and selecting name of the “Default configuration set”

After deploying the solution, please, navigate to Amazon SES Email receiving in AWS console, edit the rule set and set it to Active.

Testing the solution end-to-end

Create a small file and generate a base64 encoding so that you can attach it to an SMTP message:

echo content >> demo.txt
cat demo.txt | base64 > demo64.txt
cat demo64.txt

Install openssl (which includes an SMTP client capability) using the following command:

sudo yum install openssl

Now run the SMTP client (openssl is used for the proof of concept, be sure to complete the steps in the workshop lab instructions first):

openssl s_client -crlf -quiet -starttls smtp -connect email-smtp.<aws-region>.amazonaws.com:587

and feed in the commands (replacing the brackets [] and everything between them) to send the SMTP message with the attachment you created.

EHLO amazonses.com
AUTH LOGIN
[base64 encoded SMTP user name]
[base64 encoded SMTP password]
MAIL FROM:[VERIFIED EMAIL IN SES]
RCPT TO:[VERIFIED EMAIL WITH SES RECEIPT RULE]
DATA
Subject: Demo from openssl
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
 boundary="XXXXboundary text"

This is a multipart message in MIME format.

--XXXXboundary text
Content-Type: text/plain

Line1:This is a Test email sent to coded list of email addresses using the Amazon SES SMTP interface from openssl SMTP client.
Line2:Email_Rxers_Code:[ANYUSER1@DOMAIN_A,ANYUSER2@DOMAIN_B,ANYUSERX@DOMAIN_Y]:Email_Rxers_Code:
Line3:Last line.

--XXXXboundary text
Content-Type: text/plain;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: Base64
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="demo64.txt"
Y29udGVudAo=
--XXXXboundary text
.
QUIT

Note: For base64 SMTP username and password above, use values obtained in Set up the SES SMTP interface, step 1. So for example, if the username is AKZB3LJAF5TQQRRPQZO1, then you can obtain base64 encoded value using following command:

echo -n AKZB3LJAF5TQQRRPQZO1 |base64
QUtaQjNMSkFGNVRRUVJSUFFaTzE=

This makes base64 encoded value QUtaQjNMSkFGNVRRUVJSUFFaTzE= Repeat same process for SMTP username and password values in the example above.

The openssl command should result in successful SMTP authentication and send. You should receive an email that looks like this:

Optimizing Security of the Solution

  1. Do not share DNS credentials. Unauthorized access can lead to domain control, potential denial of service, and AWS charges. Restrict access to authorized personnel only.
  2. Do not set the SENDER_EMAIL environment variable to the email address associated with the receipt rule. This address is a closely guarded secret, known only to administrators, and should be changed frequently.
  3. Review access to your code repository regularly to ensure there are no unauthorized changes to your code base.
  4. Utilize Permissions Boundaries to restrict the actions permitted by an IAM user or role.

Cleanup

To cleanup, start by navigating to Amazon SES Email receiving in AWS console, and setting the rule set to Inactive.

Once completed, delete the stack:

cdk destroy

Cleanup AWS SES Access Credentials

In Amazon SES Console, select Manage existing SMTP credentials, select the username for which credentials were created in Set up the SES SMTP interface above, navigate to the Security credentials tab and in the Access keys section, select Action -> Delete to delete AWS SES access credentials.

Troubleshooting

If you are not receiving the email or email is not being sent correctly there are a number of common causes of these errors:

  • HTTP Error 554 Message rejected email address is not verified. The following identities failed the check in region :
    • This means that you have attempted to send an email from address that has not been verified.
    • Please, ensure that the “MAIL FROM:[VERIFIED EMAIL IN SES]” email address sent via openssl matches the SenderEmail=<verified sender email> email address used in cdk deploy.
    • Also make sure this email address was used in Verify the sender email address step.
  • Email is not being delivered/forwarded
    • The incoming S3 bucket under the incoming prefix, contains file called AMAZON_SES_SETUP_NOTIFICATION. This means that MX record of the domain setup is missing. Please, validate that the MX record (step 2) of Verify your email domain with Amazon SES to receive emails section is fully configured.
    • Please ensure after deploying the Amazon SES solution, the created rule set was made active by navigating to Amazon SES Email receiving in AWS console, and set it to Active.
    • This may mean that the destination email address has bounced. Please, navigate to Amazon SES Suppression list in AWS console ensure that recipient’s email is not in the suppression list. If it is listed, you can see the reason in the “Suppression reason” column. There you may either manually remove from the suppression list or if the recipient email is not valid, consider using a different recipient email address.
AWS Legal Disclaimer: Sample code, software libraries, command line tools, proofs of concept, templates, or other related technology are provided as AWS Content or Third-Party Content under the AWS Customer Agreement, or the relevant written agreement between you and AWS (whichever applies). You should not use this AWS Content or Third-Party Content in your production accounts, or on production or other critical data. You are responsible for testing, securing, and optimizing the AWS Content or Third-Party Content, such as sample code, as appropriate for production grade use based on your specific quality control practices and standards. Deploying AWS Content or Third-Party Content may incur AWS charges for creating or using AWS chargeable resources, such as running Amazon EC2 instances or using Amazon S3 storage.

About the Authors

Tarek Soliman

Tarek Soliman

Tarek is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS. His background is in Software Engineering with a focus on distributed systems. He is passionate about diving into customer problems and solving them. He also enjoys building things using software, woodworking, and hobby electronics.

Dave Spencer

Dave Spencer

Dave is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS. His background is in cloud solutions architecture, Infrastructure as Code (Iac), systems engineering, and embedded systems programming. Dave’s passion is developing partnerships with Department of Defense customers to maximize technology investments and realize their strategic vision.

Ayman Ishimwe

Ayman Ishimwe

Ayman is a Solutions Architect at AWS based in Seattle, Washington. He holds a Master’s degree in Software Engineering and IT from Oakland University. With prior experience in software development, specifically in building microservices for distributed web applications, he is passionate about helping customers build robust and scalable solutions on AWS cloud services following best practices.

Dmytro Protsiv

Dmytro Protsiv

Dmytro is a Cloud Applications Architect for with Amazon Web Services. He is passionate about helping customers to solve their business challenges around application modernization.

Stacy Conant

Stacy Conant

Stacy is a Solutions Architect working with DoD and US Navy customers. She enjoys helping customers understand how to harness big data and working on data analytics solutions. On the weekends, you can find Stacy crocheting, reading Harry Potter (again), playing with her dogs and cooking with her husband.

An introduction to Amazon WorkMail Audit Logging

Post Syndicated from Zip Zieper original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/an-introduction-to-amazon-workmail-audit-logging/

Amazon WorkMail’s new audit logging capability equips email system administrators with powerful visibility into mailbox activities and system events across their organization. As announced in our recent “What’s New” post, this feature enables the comprehensive capture and delivery of critical email data, empowering administrators to monitor, analyze, and maintain compliance.

With audit logging, WorkMail records a wide range of events, including metadata about messages sent, received, and failed login attempts, and configuration changes. Administrators have the option to deliver these audit logs to their preferred AWS services, such as Amazon Simple Storage System (S3) for long-term storage, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose for real-time data streaming, or Amazon CloudWatch Logs for centralized log management. Additionally, standard CloudWatch metrics on audit logs provide deep insights into the usage and health of WorkMail mailboxes within the organization.

By leveraging Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging capabilities, enterprises have the ability to strengthen their security posture, fulfill regulatory requirements, and gain critical visibility into the email activities that underpin their daily operations. This post will explore the technical details and practical use cases of this powerful new feature.

In this blog, you will learn how to configure your WorkMail organization to send email audit logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, Amazon S3, and Amazon Data Firehose . We’ll also provide examples that show how to monitor access to your Amazon WorkMail Organization’s mailboxes by querying the logs via CloudWatch Log Insights.

Email security

Imagine you are the email administrator for a biotech company, and you’ve received a report about spam complaints coming from your company’s email system. When you investigate, you learn these complaints point to unauthorized emails originating from several of your company’s mailboxes. One or more of your company’s email accounts may have been compromised by a hacker. You’ll need to determine the specific mailboxes involved, understand who has access to those mailboxes, and how the mailboxes have been accessed. This will be useful in identifying mailboxes with multiple failed logins or unfamiliar IP access, which can indicate unauthorized attempts or hacking. To identify the cause of the security breach, you require access to detailed audit logs and familiar tools to analyze extensive log data and locate the root of your issues.

Amazon WorkMail Audit Logging

Amazon WorkMail is a secure, managed business email service that hosts millions of mailboxes globally. WorkMail features robust audit logging capabilities, equipping IT administrators and security experts with in-depth analysis of mailbox usage patterns. Audit logging provides detailed insights into user activities within WorkMail. Organizations can detect potential security vulnerabilities by utilizing audit logs. These logs document user logins, access permissions, and other critical activities. WorkMail audit logging facilitates compliance with various regulatory requirements, providing a clear audit trail of data privacy and security. WorkMail’s audit logs are crucial for maintaining the integrity, confidentiality, and reliability of your organization’s email system.

Understanding WorkMail Audit Logging

Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging feature provides you with the data you need to have a thorough understanding of your email mailbox activities. By sending detailed logs to Amazon CloudWatch Logs, Amazon S3, and Amazon Data Firehose, administrators can identify mailbox access issues, track access by IP addresses, and review mailbox data movements or deletions using familiar tools. It is also possible to configure multiple destinations for each log to meet the needs of a variety of use cases, including compliance archiving.

WorkMail offers four audit logs:

  • ACCESS CONTROL LOGS – These logs record evaluations of access control rules, noting whether access to the endpoint was granted or denied in accordance with the configured rules;
  • AUTHENTICATION LOGS – These logs capture details of login activities, chronicling both successful and failed authentication attempts;
  • AVAILABILITY PROVIDER LOGS – These logs document the use of the Availability Providers feature, tracking its operational status and interactions feature;
  • MAILBOX ACCESS LOGS – Logs in this category record each attempt to access mailboxes within the WorkMail Organization, providing a detailed account of credential and protocol access patterns.

Once audit logging is enabled, alerts can be configured to warn of authentication or access anomalies that surpass predetermined thresholds. JSON formatting allows for advanced processing and analysis of audit logs by third party tools. Audit logging stores all interactions with the exception of web mail client authentication metrics.

WorkMail audit logging in action

Below are two examples that show how WorkMail’s audit logging can be used to investigate unauthorized login attempts, and diagnose a misconfigured email client. In both examples, we’ll use WorkMail’s Mailbox Access Control Logs and query the mailbox access control logs in CloudWatch Log Insights.

In our first example, we’re looking for unsuccessful login attempts in a target timeframe. In CloudWatch Log Insights we run this query:

fields user, source_ip, protocol, auth_successful, auth_failed_reason | filter auth_successful = 0

CloudWatch Log Insights returns all records in the timeframe, providing auth_succesful = 0 (false) and auth_failed_reason = Invalid username or password. We also see the source_ip, which we may decide to block in a WorkMail access control rule, or any other network security system.

Log - unsuccessful Login Attempt

Mailbox Access Control Log – an unsuccessful login attempt

In this next example, consider a WorkMail organization that has elected to block the IMAP protocol using a WorkMail access control rule (below):

WorkMail Access Control Rule blocking IMAP

WorkMail Access Control Rule – block IMAP protocol

Because some email clients use IMAP by default, occasionally new users in this example organization are denied access to email due to an incorrectly configured email client. Using WorkMail’s mailbox access control logs in CloudWatch Log Insights we run this query:

fields user_id, source_ip, protocol, rule_id, access_granted | filter access_granted = 0

And we see the user’s attempt to access their email inbox via IMAP has been denied by the access control rule_id (below):

WorkMail Access Control logs - IMAP blocked by access rule

WorkMail Access Control logs – IMAP blocked by access rule

Conclusion

Amazon WorkMail’s audit logging feature offers comprehensive view of your organization’s email activities. Four different logs provide visibility into access controls, authentication attempts, interactions with external systems, and mailbox activities. It provides flexible log delivery through native integration with AWS services and tools. Enabling WorkMail’s audit logging capabilities helps administrators meet compliance requirements and enhances the overall security and reliability of their email system.

To learn more about audit logging on Amazon WorkMail, you may comment on this post (below), view the WorkMail documentation, or reach out to your AWS account team.

To learn more about Amazon WorkMail, or to create a no-cost 30-day test organization, see Amazon WorkMail.

About the Authors

Miguel

Luis Miguel Flores dos Santos

Miguel is a Solutions Architect at AWS, boasting over a decade of expertise in solution architecture, encompassing both on-premises and cloud solutions. His focus lies on resilience, performance, and automation. Currently, he is delving into serverless computing. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading, riding motorcycles, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy Wong is a Sr. Product Manager with the Amazon WorkMail team. He has 10 years of diverse experience in supporting enterprise customers and scaling start-up companies across different industries. Andy’s favorite activities outside of technology are soccer, tennis and free-diving.

Zip

Zip

Zip is a Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS, working with Amazon Pinpoint and Simple Email Service and WorkMail. Outside of work he enjoys time with his family, cooking, mountain biking, boating, learning and beach plogging.

Upgrade Your Email Tech Stack with Amazon SESv2 API

Post Syndicated from Zip Zieper original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/upgrade-your-email-tech-stack-with-amazon-sesv2-api/

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a cloud-based email sending service that helps businesses and developers send marketing and transactional emails. We introduced the SESv1 API in 2011 to provide developers with basic email sending capabilities through Amazon SES using HTTPS. In 2020, we introduced the redesigned Amazon SESv2 API, with new and updated features that make it easier and more efficient for developers to send email at scale.

This post will compare Amazon SESv1 API and Amazon SESv2 API and explain the advantages of transitioning your application code to the SESv2 API. We’ll also provide examples using the AWS Command-Line Interface (AWS CLI) that show the benefits of transitioning to the SESv2 API.

Amazon SESv1 API

The SESv1 API is a relatively simple API that provides basic functionality for sending and receiving emails. For over a decade, thousands of SES customers have used the SESv1 API to send billions of emails. Our customers’ developers routinely use the SESv1 APIs to verify email addresses, create rules, send emails, and customize bounce and complaint notifications. Our customers’ needs have become more advanced as the global email ecosystem has developed and matured. Unsurprisingly, we’ve received customer feedback requesting enhancements and new functionality within SES. To better support an expanding array of use cases and stay at the forefront of innovation, we developed the SESv2 APIs.

While the SESv1 API will continue to be supported, AWS is focused on advancing functionality through the SESv2 API. As new email sending capabilities are introduced, they will only be available through SESv2 API. Migrating to the SESv2 API provides customers with access to these, and future, optimizations and enhancements. Therefore, we encourage SES customers to consider the information in this blog, review their existing codebase, and migrate to SESv2 API in a timely manner.

Amazon SESv2 API

Released in 2020, the SESv2 API and SDK enable customers to build highly scalable and customized email applications with an expanded set of lightweight and easy to use API actions. Leveraging insights from current SES customers, the SESv2 API includes several new actions related to list and subscription management, the creation and management of dedicated IP pools, and updates to unsubscribe that address recent industry requirements.

One example of new functionality in SESv2 API is programmatic support for the SES Virtual Delivery Manager. Previously only addressable via the AWS console, VDM helps customers improve sending reputation and deliverability. SESv2 API includes vdmAttributes such as VdmEnabled and DashboardAttributes as well as vdmOptions. DashboardOptions and GaurdianOptions.

To improve developer efficiency and make the SESv2 API easier to use, we merged several SESv1 APIs into single commands. For example, in the SESv1 API you must make separate calls for createConfigurationSet, setReputationMetrics, setSendingEnabled, setTrackingOptions, and setDeliveryOption. In the SESv2 API, however, developers make a single call to createConfigurationSet and they can include trackingOptions, reputationOptions, sendingOptions, deliveryOptions. This can result in more concise code (see below).

SESv1-vs-SESv2

Another example of SESv2 API command consolidation is the GetIdentity action, which is a composite of SESv1 API’s GetIdentityVerificationAttributes, GetIdentityNotificationAttributes, GetCustomMailFromAttributes, GetDKIMAttributes, and GetIdentityPolicies. See SESv2 documentation for more details.

Why migrate to Amazon SESv2 API?

The SESv2 API offers an enhanced experience compared to the original SESv1 API. Compared to the SESv1 API, the SESv2 API provides a more modern interface and flexible options that make building scalable, high-volume email applications easier and more efficient. SESv2 enables rich email capabilities like template management, list subscription handling, and deliverability reporting. It provides developers with a more powerful and customizable set of tools with improved security measures to build and optimize inbox placement and reputation management. Taken as a whole, the SESv2 APIs provide an even stronger foundation for sending critical communications and campaign email messages effectively at a scale.

Migrating your applications to SESv2 API will benefit your email marketing and communication capabilities with:

  1. New and Enhanced Features: Amazon SESv2 API includes new actions as well as enhancements that provide better functionality and improved email management. By moving to the latest version, you’ll be able to optimize your email sending process. A few examples include:
    • Increase the maximum message size (including attachments) from 10Mb (SESv1) to 40Mb (SESv2) for both sending and receiving.
    • Access key actions for the SES Virtual Deliverability Manager (VDM) which provides insights into your sending and delivery data. VDM provides near-realtime advice on how to fix the issues that are negatively affecting your delivery success rate and reputation.
    • Meet Google & Yahoo’s June 2024 unsubscribe requirements with the SES v2 SendEmail action. For more information, see the “What’s New blog”
  2. Future-proof Your Application: Avoid potential compatibility issues and disruptions by keeping your application up-to-date with the latest version of the Amazon SESv2 API via the AWS SDK.
  3. Improve Usability and Developer Experience: Amazon SESv2 API is designed to be more user-friendly and consistent with other AWS services. It is a more intuitive API with better error handling, making it easier to develop, maintain, and troubleshoot your email sending applications.

Migrating to the latest SESv2 API and SDK positions customers for success in creating reliable and scalable email services for their businesses.

What does migration to the SESv2 API entail?

While SESv2 API builds on the v1 API, the v2 API actions don’t universally map exactly to the v1 API actions. Current SES customers that intend to migrate to SESv2 API will need to identify the SESv1 API actions in their code and plan to refactor for v2. When planning the migration, it is essential to consider several important considerations:

  1. Customers with applications that receive email using SESv1 API’s CreateReceiptFilter, CreateReceiptRule or CreateReceiptRuleSet actions must continue using the SESv1 API client for these actions. SESv1 and SESv2 can be used in the same application, where needed.
  2. We recommend all customers follow the security best practice of “least privilege” with their IAM policies. As such, customers may need to review and update their policies to include the new and modified API actions introduced in SESv2 before migrating. Taking the time to properly configure permissions ensures a seamless transition while maintaining a securely optimized level of access. See documentation.

Below is an example of an IAM policy with a user with limited allow privileges related to several SESv1 Identity actions only:

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "VisualEditor0",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "ses:VerifyEmailIdentity",
                "ses:Deleteldentity",
                "ses:VerifyDomainDkim",
                "ses:ListIdentities",
                "ses:VerifyDomainIdentity"
            ],
            "Resource": "*"
        }
    ]
}

When updating to SESv2, you need to update this user’s permissions with the SESv2 actions shown below:

{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Sid": "VisualEditor0",
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "ses:CreateEmailIdentity",
                "ses:DeleteEmailIdentity",
                "ses:GetEmailIdentity",
                "ses:ListEmailIdentities"
            ],
            "Resource": "*"
        }
    ]
}

Examples of SESv1 vs. SESv2 APIs

Let’s look at a three examples that compare the SESv1 API with the SESv2 API.

LIST APIs

When listing identities in SESv1 list API, you need to specify type which requires multiple calls to API to list all resources:

aws ses list-identities --identity-type Domain
{
    "Identities": [
        "example.com"
    ]
}
aws ses list-identities --identity-type EmailAddress
{
    "Identities": [
        "[email protected]",
        "[email protected]",
        "[email protected]"
    ]
}

With SESv2, you can simply call a single API. Additionally, SESv2 also provides extended feedback:

aws sesv2 list-email-identities
{
    "EmailIdentities": [
        {
            "IdentityType": "DOMAIN",
            "IdentityName": "example.com",
            "SendingEnabled": false,
            "VerificationStatus": "FAILED"
        },
        {
            "IdentityType": "EMAIL_ADDRESS",
            "IdentityName": "[email protected]",
            "SendingEnabled": true,
            "VerificationStatus": "SUCCESS"
        },
        {
            "IdentityType": "EMAIL_ADDRESS",
            "IdentityName": "[email protected]",
            "SendingEnabled": false,
            "VerificationStatus": "FAILED"
        },
        {
            "IdentityType": "EMAIL_ADDRESS",
            "IdentityName": "[email protected]",
            "SendingEnabled": true,
            "VerificationStatus": "SUCCESS"
        }
    ]
}

CREATE APIs

With SESv1, creating email addresses or domains requires calling two different APIs:

aws ses verify-email-identity --email-address [email protected]
aws ses verify-domain-dkim --domain example.com
{
    "DkimTokens": [
        "mwmzhwhcebfh5kvwv7zahdatahimucqi",
        "dmlozjwrdbrjfwothoh26x6izvyts7qx",
        "le5fy6pintdkbxg6gdoetgbrdvyp664v"
    ]
}

With SESv2, we build an abstraction so you can call a single API. Additionally, SESv2 provides more detailed responses and feedback:

aws sesv2 create-email-identity --email-identity [email protected]
{
    "IdentityType": "EMAIL_ADDRESS",
    "VerifiedForSendingStatus": false
}
aws sesv2 create-email-identity --email-identity example.com
{
    "IdentityType": "DOMAIN",
    "VerifiedForSendingStatus": false,
    "DkimAttributes": {
        "SigningEnabled": true,
        "Status": "NOT_STARTED",
        "Tokens": [
            "mwmzhwhcebfh5kvwv7zahdatahimucqi",
            "dmlozjwrdbrjfwothoh26x6izvyts7qx",
            "le5fy6pintdkbxg6gdoetgbrdvyp664v"
        ],
        "SigningAttributesOrigin": "AWS_SES",
        "NextSigningKeyLength": "RSA_2048_BIT",
        "CurrentSigningKeyLength": "RSA_2048_BIT",
        "LastKeyGenerationTimestamp": "2024-02-23T15:01:53.849000+00:00"
    }
}

DELETE APIs

When calling delete- with SESv1, SES returns 200 (or no response), even if the identity was previously deleted or doesn’t exist:

 aws ses delete-identity --identity example.com

SESv2 provides better error handling and responses when calling the delete API:

aws sesv2 delete-email-identity --email-identity example.com

An error occurred (NotFoundException) when calling the DeleteEmailIdentity operation: Email identity example.com does not exist.

Hands-on with SESv1 API vs. SESv2 API

Below are a few examples you can use to explore the differences between SESv1 API and the SESv2 API. To complete these exercises, you’ll need:

  1. AWS Account (setup) with enough permission to interact with the SES service via the CLI
  2. Upgrade to the latest version of the AWS CLI (aws-cli/2.15.27 or greater)
  3. SES enabled, configured and properly sending emails
  4. A recipient email address with which you can check inbound messages (if you’re in the SES Sandbox, this email must be verified email identity). In the following examples, replace [email protected] with the verified email identity.
  5. Your preferred IDE with AWS credentials and necessary permissions (you can also use AWS CloudShell)

Open the AWS CLI (or AWS CloudShell) and:

  1. Create a test directory called v1-v2-test.
  2. Create the following (8) files in the v1-v2-test directory:

destination.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{ 
    "ToAddresses": ["[email protected]"] 
}

ses-v1-message.json

{
   "Subject": {
       "Data": "SESv1 API email sent using the AWS CLI",
       "Charset": "UTF-8"
   },
   "Body": {
       "Text": {
           "Data": "This is the message body from SESv1 API in text format.",
           "Charset": "UTF-8"
       },
       "Html": {
           "Data": "This message body from SESv1 API, it contains HTML formatting. For example - you can include links: <a class=\"ulink\" href=\"http://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/DeveloperGuide\" target=\"_blank\">Amazon SES Developer Guide</a>.",
           "Charset": "UTF-8"
       }
   }
}

ses-v1-raw-message.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
     "Data": "From: [email protected]\nTo: [email protected]\nSubject: Test email sent using the SESv1 API and the AWS CLI \nMIME-Version: 1.0\nContent-Type: text/plain\n\nThis is the message body from the SESv1 API SendRawEmail.\n\n"
}

ses-v1-template.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
  "Source":"SES Developer<[email protected]>",
  "Template": "my-template",
  "Destination": {
    "ToAddresses": [ "[email protected]"
    ]
  },
  "TemplateData": "{ \"name\":\"SESv1 Developer\", \"favoriteanimal\": \"alligator\" }"
}

my-template.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
  "Template": {
    "TemplateName": "my-template",
    "SubjectPart": "Greetings SES Developer, {{name}}!",
    "HtmlPart": "<h1>Hello {{name}},</h1><p>Your favorite animal is {{favoriteanimal}}.</p>",
    "TextPart": "Dear {{name}},\r\nYour favorite animal is {{favoriteanimal}}."
  }
}

ses-v2-simple.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
    "FromEmailAddress": "[email protected]",
    "Destination": {
        "ToAddresses": [
            "[email protected]"
        ]
    },
    "Content": {
        "Simple": {
            "Subject": {
                "Data": "SESv2 API email sent using the AWS CLI",
                "Charset": "utf-8"
            },
            "Body": {
                "Text": {
                    "Data": "SESv2 API email sent using the AWS CLI",
                    "Charset": "utf-8"
                }
            },
            "Headers": [
                {
                    "Name": "List-Unsubscribe",
                    "Value": "insert-list-unsubscribe-here"
                },
				{
                    "Name": "List-Unsubscribe-Post",
                    "Value": "List-Unsubscribe=One-Click"
                }
            ]
        }
    }
}

ses-v2-raw.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
     "FromEmailAddress": "[email protected]",
     "Destination": {
            "ToAddresses": [
                       "[email protected]"
              ]
       },
      "Content": {
             "Raw": {
                     "Data": "Subject: Test email sent using SESv2 API via the AWS CLI \nMIME-Version: 1.0\nContent-Type: text/plain\n\nThis is the message body from SendEmail Raw Content SESv2.\n\n"
              }
      }
}

ses-v2-tempate.json (replace [email protected] with the verified email identity):

{
     "FromEmailAddress": "[email protected]",
     "Destination": {
       "ToAddresses": [
         "[email protected]"
       ]
     },
     "Content": {
        "Template": {
          "TemplateName": "my-template",
          "TemplateData": "{ \"name\":\"SESv2 Developer\",\"favoriteanimal\":\"Dog\" }",
          "Headers": [
                {
                   "Name": "List-Unsubscribe",
                   "Value": "insert-list-unsubscribe-here"
                },
                {
                   "Name": "List-Unsubscribe-Post",
                   "Value": "List-Unsubscribe=One-Click"
                }
             ]
         }
     }
}

Perform the following commands using the SESv1 API:

send-email (simple):

aws ses send-email --from [email protected] --destination file://destination.json --message file://ses-v1-message.json 
  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity.
{
    "MessageId": "0100018dc7649400-Xx1x0000x-bcec-483a-b97c-123a4567890d-xxxxx"
}

send-raw-email:

  • In the CLI, run:
aws ses send-raw-email  --cli-binary-format raw-in-base64-out --raw-message file://ses-v1-raw-message.json 
  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity.
{
   "MessageId": "0200018dc7649400-Xx1x1234x-bcec-483a-b97c-123a4567890d-
}

send templated mail:

  • In the CLI, run the following to create the template:
aws ses create-template  --cli-input-json file://my-template.json
  • In the CLI, run:

aws ses send-templated-email --cli-input-json file://ses-v1-template.json

  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity.
 {
    "MessageId": "0000018dc7649400-Xx1x1234x-bcec-483a-b97c-123a4567890d-xxxxx"
 }

Perform similar commands using the SESv2 API:

As mentioned above, customers who are using least privilege permissions with SESv1 API must first update their IAM policies before running the SESv2 API examples below. See documentation for more info.

As you can see from the .json files we created for SES v2 API (above), you can modify or remove sections from the .json files, based on the type of email content (simple, raw or templated) you want to send.

Please ensure you are using the latest version of the AWS CLI (aws-cli/2.15.27 or greater).

Send simple email

  • In the CLI, run:
aws sesv2 send-email --cli-input-json file://ses-v2-simple.json
  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity
{
    "MessageId": "0100018dc83ba7e0-7b3149d7-3616-49c2-92b6-00e7d574f567-000000"
}

Send raw email (note – if the only reason is to set custom headers, you don’t need to send raw email)

  • In the CLI, run:
aws sesv2 send-email --cli-binary-format raw-in-base64-out --cli-input-json file://ses-v2-raw.json
  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity.
{
    "MessageId": "0100018dc877bde5-fdff0df3-838e-4f51-8582-a05237daecc7-000000"
}

Send templated email

  • In the CLI, run:
aws sesv2 send-email --cli-input-json file://ses-v2-tempate.json
  • The response will return a valid MessageID (signaling the action was successful). An email will be received by the verified email identity.
{
    "MessageId": "0100018dc87fe72c-f2c547a1-2325-4be4-bf78-b91d6648cd12-000000"
}

Migrating your application code to SESv2 API

As you can see from the examples above, SESv2 API shares much of its syntax and actions with the SESv1 API. As a result, most customers have found they can readily evaluate, identify and migrate their application code base in a relatively short period of time. However, it’s important to note that while the process is generally straightforward, there may be some nuances and differences to consider depending on your specific use case and programming language.

Regardless of the language, you’ll need anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to:

  • Update your code to use SESv2 Client and change API signature and request parameters
  • Update permissions / policies to reflect SESv2 API requirements
  • Test your migrated code to ensure that it functions correctly with the SESv2 API
  • Stage, test
  • Deploy

Summary

As we’ve described in this post, Amazon SES customers that migrate to the SESv2 API will benefit from updated capabilities, a more user-friendly and intuitive API, better error handling and improved deliverability controls. The SESv2 API also provide for compliance with the industry’s upcoming unsubscribe header requirements, more flexible subscription-list management, and support for larger attachments. Taken collectively, these improvements make it even easier for customers to develop, maintain, and troubleshoot their email sending applications with Amazon Simple Email Service. For these, and future reasons, we recommend SES customers migrate their existing applications to the SESv2 API immediately.

For more information regarding the SESv2 APIs, comment on this post, reach out to your AWS account team, or consult the AWS SESv2 API documentation:

About the Authors

zip

Zip

Zip is an Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service Sr. Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. Outside of work he enjoys time with his family, cooking, mountain biking and plogging.

Vinay_Ujjini

Vinay Ujjini

Vinay is an Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service Worldwide Principal Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. He has been solving customer’s omni-channel challenges for over 15 years. He is an avid sports enthusiast and in his spare time, enjoys playing tennis and cricket.

Dmitrijs_Lobanovskis

Dmitrijs Lobanovskis

Dmitrijs is a Software Engineer for Amazon Simple Email service. When not working, he enjoys traveling, hiking and going to the gym.

Amazon SES: Email Authentication and Getting Value out of Your DMARC Policy

Post Syndicated from Bruno Giorgini original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/email-authenctication-dmarc-policy/

Amazon SES: Email Authentication and Getting Value out of Your DMARC Policy

Introduction

For enterprises of all sizes, email is a critical piece of infrastructure that supports large volumes of communication. To enhance the security and trustworthiness of email communication, many organizations turn to email sending providers (ESPs) like Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES). These ESPs allow users to send authenticated emails from their domains, employing industry-standard protocols such as the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). Messages authenticated with SPF or DKIM will successfully pass your domain’s Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) policy. This blog post will focus on the DMARC policy enforcement mechanism. The blog will explore some of the reasons why email may fail DMARC policy evaluation and propose solutions to fix any failures that you identify. For an introduction to DMARC and how to carefully choose your email sending domain identity, you can refer to Choosing the Right Domain for Optimal Deliverability with Amazon SES The relationship between DMARC compliance and email deliverability rates is crucial for organizations aiming to maintain a positive sender reputation and ensure successful email delivery. There are many advantages when organizations have this correctly setup, these include:

  • Improved Email Deliverability
  • Reduction in Email Spoofing and Phishing
  • Positive Sender Reputation
  • Reduced Risk of Email Marked as Spam
  • Better Email Engagement Metrics
  • Enhanced Brand Reputation

With this foundation, let’s explore the intricacies of DMARC and how it can benefit your organization’s email communication.

What is DMARC?

DMARC is a mechanism for domain owners to advertise SPF and DKIM protection and to tell receivers how to act if those authentication methods fail. The domain’s DMARC policy protects your domain from third parties attempting to spoof the domain in the “From” header of emails. Malicious email messages that aim to send phishing attempts using your domain will be subject to DMARC policy evaluation, which may result in their quarantine or rejection by the email receiving organization. This stringent policy ensures that emails received by email recipients are genuinely from the claimed sending domain, thereby minimizing the risk of people falling victim to email-based scams. Domain owners publish DMARC policies as a TXT record in the domain’s _dmarc.<domain> DNS record. For example, if the domain used in the “From” header is example.com, then the domain’s DMARC policy would be located in a DNS TXT record named _dmarc.example.com. The DMARC policy can have one of three policy modes:

  • A typical DMARC deployment of an existing domain will start with publishing "p=none". A none policy means that the domain owner is in a monitoring phase; the domain owner is monitoring for messages that aren’t authenticated with SPF and DKIM and seeks to ensure all email is properly authenticated
  • When the domain owner is comfortable that all legitimate use cases are properly authenticated with SPF and/or DKIM, they may change the DMARC policy to "p=quarantine". A quarantine policy means that messages which fail to produce a domain-aligned authenticated identifier via SPF or DKIM will be quarantined by the mail receiving organization. The mail receiving organization may filter these messages into Junk folders, or take another action that they feel best protects their recipients.
  • Finally, domain owners who are confident that all of the legitimate messages using their domain are authenticated with SPF or DKIM, may change the DMARC policy to "p=reject". A reject policy means that messages which fail to produce a domain-aligned authenticated identifier via SPF or DKIM will be rejected by the mail receiving organization.

The following are examples of a TXT record that contains a DMARC policy, depending on the desired policy (the ‘p’ tag):

  Name Type Value
1 _dmarc.example.com TXT “v=DMARC1;p=reject;rua=mailto:[email protected]
2 _dmarc.example.com TXT “v=DMARC1;p=quarantine;rua=mailto:[email protected]
3 _dmarc.example.com TXT “v=DMARC1;p=none;rua=mailto:[email protected]
Table 1 – Example DMARC policy

This policy tells email providers to apply the DMARC policy to messages that fail to produce a DKIM or SPF authenticated identifier that is aligned to the domain in the “From” header. Alignment means that one or both of the following occurs:

  • The messages pass the SPF policy for the MAIL FROM domain and the MAIL FROM domain is the same as the domain in the “From” header, or a subdomain. Reference Using a custom MAIL FROM domain to learn more about how to send SPF aligned messages with SES.
  • The messages have a DKIM signature signed by a public key in DNS at a location within the domain of the “From” header. Reference Authenticating Email with DKIM in Amazon SES to learn more about how to send DKIM aligned messages with SES.

DMARC reporting

The rua tag in the domain’s DMARC policy indicates the location to which mail receiving organizations should send aggregate reports about messages that pass or fail SPF and DKIM alignment. Domain owners analyze these reports to discover messages which are using the domain in the “From” header but are not properly authenticated with SPF or DKIM. The domain owner will attempt to ensure that all legitimate messages are authenticated through analysis of the DMARC aggregate reports over time. Mail receiving organizations which support sending DMARC reports typically send these aggregated reports once per day, although these practices differ from provider to provider.

What does a typical DMARC deployment look like?

A DMARC deployment is the process of:

  1. Ensuring that all emails using the domain in the “From” header are authenticated with DKIM and SPF domain-aligned identifiers. Focus on DKIM as the primary means of authentication.
  2. Publishing a DMARC policy (none, quarantine, or reject) for the domain that reflects how the domain owner would like mail receiving organizations to handle unauthenticated email claiming to be from their domain.

New domains and subdomains

Deploying a DMARC policy is easy for organizations that have created a new domain or subdomain for the purpose of a new email sending use case on SES; for example email marketing, transaction emails, or one-time pass codes (OTP). These domains can start with the "p=reject" DMARC enforcement policy because the policy will not affect existing email sending programs. This strict enforcement is to ensure that there is no unauthenticated use of the domain and its subdomains.

Existing domains

For existing domains, a DMARC deployment is an iterative process because the domain may have a history of email sending by one or multiple email sending programs. It is important to gain a complete understanding of how the domain and its subdomains are being used for email sending before publishing a restrictive DMARC policy (p=quarantine or p=reject) because doing so would affect any unauthenticated email sending programs using the domain in the “From” header of messages. To get started with the DMARC implementation, these are a few actions to take:

  • Publish a p=none DMARC policy (sometimes referred to as monitoring mode), and set the rua tag to the location in which you would like to receive aggregate reports.
  • Analyze the aggregate reports. Mail receiving organizations will send reports which contain information to determine if the domain, and its subdomains, are being used for sending email, and how the messages are (or are not) being authenticated with a DKIM or SPF domain-aligned identifier. An easy to use analysis tool is the Dmarcian XML to Human Converter.
  • Avoid prematurely publishing a “p=quarantine” or “p=reject” policy. Doing so may result in blocked or reduced delivery of legitimate messages of existing email sending programs.

The image below illustrates how DMARC will be applied to an email received by the email receiving server and actions taken based on the enforcement policy:

DMARC flow Figure 1 – DMARC Flow

How do SPF and DKIM cause DMARC policies to pass

When you start sending emails using Amazon SES, messages that you send through Amazon SES automatically use a subdomain of amazonses.com as the default MAIL FROM domain. SPF evaluators will see that these messages pass the SPF policy evaluation because the default MAIL FROM domain has a SPF policy which includes the IP addresses of the SES infrastructure that sent the message. SPF authentication will result in an “SPF=PASS” and the authenticated identifier is the domain of the MAIL FROM address. The published SPF record applies to every message that is sent using SES regardless of whether you are using a shared or dedicated IP address. The amazonses.com SPF record lists all shared and dedicated IP addresses, so it is inclusive of all potential IP addresses that may be involved with sending email as the MAIL FROM domain. You can use ‘dig’ to look up the IP addresses that SES will use to send email:

dig txt amazonses.com | grep "v=spf1" amazonses.com. 850 IN TXT "v=spf1 ip4:199.255.192.0/22 ip4:199.127.232.0/22 ip4:54.240.0.0/18 ip4:69.169.224.0/20 ip4:23.249.208.0/20 ip4:23.251.224.0/19 ip4:76.223.176.0/20 ip4:54.240.64.0/19 ip4:54.240.96.0/19 ip4:52.82.172.0/22 ip4:76.223.128.0/19 -all"

Custom MAIL FROM domains

It is best practice for customers to configure a custom MAIL FROM domain, and not use the default amazonses.com MAIL FROM domain. The custom MAIL FROM domain will always be a subdomain of the customer’s verified domain identity. Once you configure the MAIL FROM domain, messages sent using SES will continue to result in an “SPF=PASS” as it does with the default MAIL FROM domain. Additionally, DMARC authentication will result in “DMARC=PASS” because the MAIL FROM domain and the domain in the “From” header are in alignment. It’s important to understand that customers must use a custom MAIL FROM domain if they want “SPF=PASS” to result in a “DMARC=PASS”.

For example, an Amazon SES-verified example.com domain will have the custom MAIL FROM domain “bounce.example.com”. The configured SPF record will be:

dig txt bounce.example.com | grep "v=spf1" "v=spf1 include:amazonses.com ~all"

Note: The chosen MAIL FROM domain could be any sub-domain of your choice. If you have the same domain identity configured in multiple regions, then you should create region-specific custom MAIL FROM domains for each region. e.g. bounce-us-east-1.example.com and bounce-eu-west-2.example.com so that asynchronously bounced messages are delivered directly to the region from which the messages were sent.

DKIM results in DMARC pass

For customers that establish Amazon SES Domain verification using DKIM signatures, DKIM authentication will result in a DKIM=PASS, and DMARC authentication will result in “DMARC=PASS” because the domain that publishes the DKIM signature is aligned to the domain in the “From” header (the SES domain identity).

DKIM and SPF together

Email messages are fully authenticated when the messages pass both DKIM and SPF, and both DKIM and SPF authenticated identifiers are domain-aligned. If only DKIM is domain-aligned, then the messages will still pass the DMARC policy, even if the SPF “pass” is unaligned. Mail receivers will consider the full context of SPF and DKIM when determining how they will handle the disposition of the messages you send, so it is best to fully authenticate your messages whenever possible. Amazon SES has taken care of the heavy lifting of the email authentication process away from our customers, and so, establishing SPF, DKIM and DMARC authentication has been reduced to a few clicks which allows SES customers to get started easily and scale fast.

Why is DMARC failing?

There are scenarios when you may notice that messages fail DMARC, whether your messages are fully authenticated, or partially authenticated. The following are things that you should look out for:

Email Content Modification

Sometimes email content is modified during the delivery to the recipients’ mail servers. This modification could be as a result of a security device or anti-spam agent along the delivery path (for example: the message Subject may be modified with an “[EXTERNAL]” warning to recipients). The modified message invalidates the DKIM signature which causes a DKIM failure. Remember, the purpose of DKIM is to ensure that the content of an email has not been tampered with during the delivery process. If this happens, the DKIM authentication will fail with an authentication error similar to “DKIM-signature body hash not verified“.

Solutions:

  • If you control the full path that the email message will traverse from sender to recipient, ensure that no intermediary mail servers modify the email content in transit.
  • Ensure that you configure a custom MAIL FROM domain so that the messages have a domain-aligned SPF identifier.
  • Keep the DMARC policy in monitoring mode (p=none) until these issues are identified/solved.

Email Forwarding

Email Forwarding There are multiple scenarios in which a message may be forwarded, and they may result in both/either SPF and DKIM failing to produce a domain-aligned authenticated identifier. For SPF, it means that the forwarding mail server is not listed in the MAIL FROM domain’s SPF policy. It is best practice for a forwarding mail server to avoid SPF failures and assume responsibility of mail handling for the messages it forwards by rewriting the MAIL FROM address to be in the domain controlled by the forwarding server. Forwarding servers that do not rewrite the MAIL FROM address pose a risk of impersonation attacks and phishing. Do not add the IP addresses of forwarding servers to your MAIL FROM domain’s SPF policy unless you are in complete control of all sources of mail being forwarded through this infrastructure. For DKIM, it means that the messages are being modified in some way that causes DKIM signature validation failure (see Email Content Modification section above). A responsible forwarding server will rewrite the MAIL FROM domain so that the messages pass SPF with a non-aligned authenticated identifier. These servers will attempt to forward the message without alteration in order to preserve DKIM signatures, but that is sometimes challenging to do in practice. In this scenario, since the messages carry no domain-aligned authenticated identifier, the messages will fail the DMARC policy.

Solution:

  • Email forwarding is an expected type of failure of which you will see in the DMARC aggregate reports. The domain owner must weigh the risk of causing forwarded messages to be rejected against the risk of not publishing a reject DMARC policy. Reference 8.6. Interoperability Considerations. Forwarding servers that wish to forward messages that they know will result in a DMARC failure will commonly rewrite the “From” header address of messages it forwards so that the messages pass a DMARC policy for a domain that the forwarding server is responsible for. The way to identify forwarding servers that rewrite the “From” header in this situation is to publish “p=quarantine pct=0 t=y” in your domain’s DMARC policy before publishing “p=reject”.

Multiple email sending providers are sending using the same domain

Multiple email sending providers: There are situations where an organization will have multiple business units sending email using the same domain, and these business units may be using an email sending provider other than SES. If neither SPF nor DKIM is configured with domain-alignment for these email sending providers, you will see DMARC failures in the DMARC aggregate report.

Solution:

  • Analyze the DMARC aggregate reports to identify other email sending providers, track down the business units responsible for each email sending program, and follow the instructions offered by the email sending provider about how to configure SPF and DKIM to produce a domain-aligned authenticated identifier.

What does a DMARC aggregate report look like?

The following XML example shows the general format of a DMARC aggregate report that you will receive from participating email service providers.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?> 
<feedback> 
  <report_metadata> 
    <org_name>email-service-provider-domain.com</org_name> 
    <email>[email protected]</email> 
    <extra_contact_info>https://email-service-provider-domain.com/> 
    <report_id>620501112281841510</report_id> 
    <date_range> 
      <begin>1685404800</begin> 
      <end>1685491199</end> 
    </date_range> 
  </report_metadata> 
  <policy_published> 
    <domain>example.com</domain>
    <adkim>r</adkim> 
    <aspf>r</aspf> 
    <p>none</p> 
    <sp>none</sp> 
    <pct>100</pct> 
  </policy_published> 
  <record> 
    <row> 
      <source_ip>192.0.2.10</source_ip>
      <count>1</count> 
      <policy_evaluated> 
        <disposition>none</disposition> 
        <dkim>pass</dkim> 
        <spf>fail</spf> 
      </policy_evaluated> 
    </row> 
    <identifiers> 
      <header_from>example.com</header_from>
    </identifiers> 
    <auth_results> 
      <dkim> 
        <domain>example.com</domain> 
        <result>pass</result> 
        <selector>gm5h7da67oqhnr3ccji35fdskt</selector> 
      </dkim> 
      <dkim> 
        <domain>amazonses.com</domain> 
        <result>pass</result> 
        <selector>224i4yxa5dv7c2xz3womw6peua</selector> 
      </dkim> 
      <spf> 
        <domain>amazonses.com</domain> 
        <result>pass</result> 
      </spf> 
    </auth_results> 
  </record> 
</feedback> 

 

How to address DMARC deployment for domains confirmed to be unused for email (dangling or otherwise)

Deploying DMARC for unused or dangling domains is a proactive step to prevent abuse or unauthorized use of your domain. Once you have confirmed that all subdomains being used for sending email have the desired DMARC policies, you can publish a ‘p=reject’ tag on the organizational domain, which will prevent unauthorized usage of unused subdomains without the need to publish DMARC policies for every conceivable subdomain. For more advanced subdomain policy scenarios, read the “tree walk” definitions in https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-ietf-dmarc-dmarcbis/

Conclusion:

In conclusion, DMARC is not only a technology but also a commitment to email security, integrity, and trust. By embracing DMARC best practices, organizations can protect their users, maintain a positive brand reputation, and ensure seamless email deliverability. Every message from SES passes SPF and DKIM for “amazonses.com”, but the authenticated identifiers are not always in alignment with the domain in the “From” header which carries the DMARC policy. If email authentication is not fully configured, your messages are susceptible to delivery issues like spam filtering, or being rejected or blocked by the recipient ESP. As a best practice, you can configure both DKIM and SPF to attain optimum deliverability while sending email with SES.

 

About the Authors

Bruno Giorgini Bruno Giorgini is a Senior Solutions Architect specializing in Pinpoint and SES. With over two decades of experience in the IT industry, Bruno has been dedicated to assisting customers of all sizes in achieving their objectives. When he is not crafting innovative solutions for clients, Bruno enjoys spending quality time with his wife and son, exploring the scenic hiking trails around the SF Bay Area.
Jesse Thompson Jesse Thompson is an Email Deliverability Manager with the Amazon Simple Email Service team. His background is in enterprise IT development and operations, with a focus on email abuse mitigation and encouragement of authenticity practices with open standard protocols. Jesse’s favorite activity outside of technology is recreational curling.
Sesan Komaiya Sesan Komaiya is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He works with a variety of customers, helping them with cloud adoption, cost optimization and emerging technologies. Sesan has over 15 year’s experience in Enterprise IT and has been at AWS for 5 years. In his free time, Sesan enjoys watching various sporting activities like Soccer, Tennis and Moto sport. He has 2 kids that also keeps him busy at home.
Mudassar Bashir Mudassar Bashir is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He has over ten years of experience in enterprise software engineering. His interests include web applications, containerization, and serverless technologies. He works with different customers, helping them with cloud adoption strategies.
Priya Priya Singh is a Cloud Support Engineer at AWS and subject matter expert in Amazon Simple Email Service. She has a 6 years of diverse experience in supporting enterprise customers across different industries. Along with Amazon SES, she is a Cloudfront enthusiast. She loves helping customers in solving issues related to Cloudfront and SES in their environment.

 

Handling Bounces and Complaints

Post Syndicated from Tyler Holmes original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/handling-bounces-and-complaints/

As you may have seen in Jeff Barr’s blog post or in an announcement, Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) now provides bounce and complaint notifications via Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS). You can refer to the Amazon SES Developer Guide or Jeff’s post to learn how to set up this feature. In this post, we will show you how you might manage your email list using the information you get in the Amazon SNS notifications.

Background

Amazon SES assigns a unique message ID to each email that you successfully submit to send. When Amazon SES receives a bounce or complaint message from an ISP, we forward the feedback message to you. The format of bounce and complaint messages varies between ISPs, but Amazon SES interprets these messages and, if you choose to set up Amazon SNS topics for them, categorizes them into JSON objects.

Scenario

Let’s assume you use Amazon SES to send monthly product announcements to a list of email addresses. You store the list in a database and send one email per recipient through Amazon SES. You review bounces and complaints once each day, manually interpret the bounce messages in the incoming email, and update the list. You would like to automate this process using Amazon SNS notifications with a scheduled task.

Solution

To implement this solution, we will use separate Amazon SNS topics for bounces and complaints to isolate the notification channels from each other and manage them separately. Also, since the bounce and complaint handler will not run 24/7, we need these notifications to persist until the application processes them. Amazon SNS integrates with Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), which is a durable messaging technology that allows us to persist these notifications. We will configure each Amazon SNS topic to publish to separate SQS queues. When our application runs, it will process queued notifications and update the email list. We have provided sample C# code below.

Configuration

Set up the following AWS components to handle bounce notifications:

  1. Create an Amazon SQS queue named ses-bounces-queue.
  2. Create an Amazon SNS topic named ses-bounces-topic.
  3. Configure the Amazon SNS topic to publish to the SQS queue.
  4. Configure Amazon SES to publish bounce notifications using ses-bounces-topic to ses-bounces-queue.

Set up the following AWS components to handle complaint notifications:

  1. Create an Amazon SQS queue named ses-complaints-queue.
  2. Create an Amazon SNS topic named ses-complaints-topic.
  3. Configure the Amazon SNS topic to publish to the SQS queue.
  4. Configure Amazon SES to publish complaint notifications using ses-complaints-topic to ses-complaints-queue.

Ensure that IAM policies are in place so that Amazon SNS has access to publish to the appropriate SQS queues.

Bounce Processing

Amazon SES will categorize your hard bounces into two types: permanent and transient. A permanent bounce indicates that you should never send to that recipient again. A transient bounce indicates that the recipient’s ISP is not accepting messages for that particular recipient at that time and you can retry delivery in the future. The amount of time you should wait before resending to the address that generated the transient bounce depends on the transient bounce type. Certain transient bounces require manual intervention before the message can be delivered (e.g., message too large or content error). If the bounce type is undetermined, you should manually review the bounce and act accordingly.

You will need to define some classes to simplify bounce notification parsing from JSON into .NET objects. We will use the open-source JSON.NET library.

/// <summary>Represents the bounce or complaint notification stored in Amazon SQS.</summary>
class AmazonSqsNotification
{
    public string Type { get; set; }
    public string Message { get; set; }
}

/// <summary>Represents an Amazon SES bounce notification.</summary>
class AmazonSesBounceNotification
{
    public string NotificationType { get; set; }
    public AmazonSesBounce Bounce { get; set; }
}
/// <summary>Represents meta data for the bounce notification from Amazon SES.</summary>
class AmazonSesBounce
{
    public string BounceType { get; set; }
    public string BounceSubType { get; set; }
    public DateTime Timestamp { get; set; }
    public List<AmazonSesBouncedRecipient> BouncedRecipients { get; set; }
}
/// <summary>Represents the email address of recipients that bounced
/// when sending from Amazon SES.</summary>
class AmazonSesBouncedRecipient
{
    public string EmailAddress { get; set; }
}

Sample code to handle bounces:

/// <summary>Process bounces received from Amazon SES via Amazon SQS.</summary>
/// <param name="response">The response from the Amazon SQS bounces queue 
/// to a ReceiveMessage request. This object contains the Amazon SES  
/// bounce notification.</param> 
private static void ProcessQueuedBounce(ReceiveMessageResponse response)
{
    int messages = response.ReceiveMessageResult.Message.Count;
 
    if (messages > 0)
    {
        foreach (var m in response.ReceiveMessageResult.Message)
        {
            // First, convert the Amazon SNS message into a JSON object.
            var notification = Newtonsoft.Json.JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<AmazonSqsNotification>(m.Body);
 
            // Now access the Amazon SES bounce notification.
            var bounce = Newtonsoft.Json.JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<AmazonSesBounceNotification>(notification.Message);
 
            switch (bounce.Bounce.BounceType)
            {
                case "Transient":
                    // Per our sample organizational policy, we will remove all recipients 
                    // that generate an AttachmentRejected bounce from our mailing list.
                    // Other bounces will be reviewed manually.
                    switch (bounce.Bounce.BounceSubType)
                    {
                        case "AttachmentRejected":
                            foreach (var recipient in bounce.Bounce.BouncedRecipients)
                            {
                                RemoveFromMailingList(recipient.EmailAddress);
                            }
                            break;
                        default:
                            ManuallyReviewBounce(bounce);
                            break;
                    }
                    break;
                default:
                    // Remove all recipients that generated a permanent bounce 
                    // or an unknown bounce.
                    foreach (var recipient in bounce.Bounce.BouncedRecipients)
                    {
                        RemoveFromMailingList(recipient.EmailAddress);
                    }
                    break;
            }
        }
    }
}

Complaint Processing

A complaint indicates the recipient does not want the email that you sent them. When we receive a complaint, we want to remove the recipient addresses from our list. Again, define some objects to simplify parsing complaint notifications from JSON to .NET objects.

/// <summary>Represents an Amazon SES complaint notification.</summary>
class AmazonSesComplaintNotification
{
    public string NotificationType { get; set; }
    public AmazonSesComplaint Complaint { get; set; }
}
/// <summary>Represents the email address of individual recipients that complained 
/// to Amazon SES.</summary>
class AmazonSesComplainedRecipient
{
    public string EmailAddress { get; set; }
}
/// <summary>Represents meta data for the complaint notification from Amazon SES.</summary>
class AmazonSesComplaint
{
    public List<AmazonSesComplainedRecipient> ComplainedRecipients { get; set; }
    public DateTime Timestamp { get; set; }
    public string MessageId { get; set; }
}

Sample code to handle complaints is:

/// <summary>Process complaints received from Amazon SES via Amazon SQS.</summary>
/// <param name="response">The response from the Amazon SQS complaint queue 
/// to a ReceiveMessage request. This object contains the Amazon SES 
/// complaint notification.</param>
private static void ProcessQueuedComplaint(ReceiveMessageResponse response)
{
    int messages = response.ReceiveMessageResult.Message.Count;
 
    if (messages > 0)
    {
        foreach (var
  message in response.ReceiveMessageResult.Message)
        {
            // First, convert the Amazon SNS message into a JSON object.
            var notification = Newtonsoft.Json.JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<AmazonSqsNotification>(message.Body);
 
            // Now access the Amazon SES complaint notification.
            var complaint = Newtonsoft.Json.JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<AmazonSesComplaintNotification>(notification.Message);
 
            foreach (var recipient in complaint.Complaint.ComplainedRecipients)
            {
                // Remove the email address that complained from our mailing list.
                RemoveFromMailingList(recipient.EmailAddress);
            }
        }
    }
}

Final Thoughts

We hope that you now have the basic information on how to use bounce and complaint notifications. For more information, please review our API reference and Developer Guide; it describes all actions, error codes and restrictions that apply to Amazon SES.

If you have comments or feedback about this feature, please post them on the Amazon SES forums. We actively monitor the forum and frequently engage with customers. Happy sending with Amazon SES!

How to secure your email account and improve email sender reputation

Post Syndicated from bajavani original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-to-secure-your-email-account-and-improve-email-sender-reputation/

How to secure your email account and improve email sender reputation

Introduction

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service that enables customers to send email from within any application. You can send email using the SES SMTP interface or via HTTP requests to the SES API. All requests to send email must be authenticated using either SMTP or IAM credentials and it is when these credentials end up in the hands of a malicious actor, that customers need to act fast to secure their SES account.

Compromised credentials with permission to send email via SES allows the malicious actor to use SES to send spam and or phishing emails, which can lead to high bounce and or complaint rates for the SES account. A consequence of high bounce and or complaint rates can result in sending for the SES account being paused.

How to identify if your SES email sending account is compromised

Start by checking the reputation metrics for the SES account from the Reputation metrics menu in the SES Console.
A sudden increase or spike in the bounce or complaint metrics should be further investigated. You can start by checking the Feedback forwarding destination, where SES will send bounce and or complaints to. Feedback on bounces and complaints will contain the From, To email addresses as well as the subject. Use these attributes to determine if unintended emails are being sent, for example if the bounce and / or complaint recipients are not known to you that is an indication of compromise. To find out what your feedback forwarding destination is, please see Feedback forwarding mechanism

If SNS notifications are already enabled, check the subscribed endpoint for the bounce and / or complaint notifications to review the notifications for unintended email sending. SNS notifications would provide additional information, such as IAM identity being used to send the emails as well as the source IP address the emails are being sent from.

If the review of the bounces or complaints leads to the conclusion that the email sending is unintended, immediately follow the steps below to secure your account.

Steps to secure your account:

You can follow the below steps in order to secure your SES account:

  1. It is recommended that to avoid any more unintended emails from being sent, to immediately pause the SES account until the root cause has been identified and steps taken to secure the SES account. You can use the below command to pause the email sending for your account:

    aws ses update-account-sending-enabled --no-enabled --region sending_region

    Note: Change the sending_region with the region you are using to send email.

  2. Rotate the credentials for the IAM identity being used to send the unintended emails. If the IAM identity was originally created from the SES Console as SMTP credentials, it is recommended to delete the IAM identity and create new SMTP credentials from the SES Console.
  3. Limit the scope of SMTP/IAM identity to send email only from the specific IP address your email sending originates from.

See controlling access to Amazon SES.

Below is an example of an IAM policy which allows emails from IP Address 1.2.3.4 and 5.6.7.8 only.

————————-

{
"Version": "2012-10-17",
"Statement": [
{
"Sid": "RestrictIP",
"Effect": "Allow",
"Action": "ses:SendRawEmail",
"Resource": "*",
"Condition": {
"IpAddress": {
"aws:SourceIp": [
"1.2.3.4/32",
"5.6.7.8/32"
]
}
}
}
]
}

———————————

When you send an email from IP address apart from the IP mentioned in the policy, then the following error will be observed and the email sending request will fail:

———-

554 Access denied: User arn:aws:iam::123456789012:user/iam-user-name’ is not authorized to perform ses:SendRawEmail’ on resource `arn:aws:ses:eu-west-1:123456789012:identity/example.com’

———-

4.  Once these steps have been taken, the sending for the account can be enabled again, using the command below:

aws ses update-account-sending-enabled --enabled --region sending_region

Conclusion

You can secure your SES email sending account by taking the necessary steps mentioned and also prevent this from happening in the future.

Migrating to a cloud ESP: How to onboard to Amazon SES

Post Syndicated from Vinay Ujjini original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/migrating-to-amazon-ses-a-comprehensive-guide/

Amazon SES: Email remains a powerful tool for businesses, whether for marketing campaigns, transactional notifications, or other communications. Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a cloud email service provider that can integrate into any application for bulk email sending. Amazon SES is an email service that supports a variety of deployments like transactional emails, system alerts, marketing/promotional/bulk emails, streamlined internal communications, and emails triggered by CRM system as a few examples. When you use Amazon SES to send transactional emails, marketing emails, or newsletter emails, you only pay for what you use. Analytics on sender statistics along with managed services like Virtual Deliverability Manager help businesses make every email count with Amazon SES. You can get reliable, scalable email to communicate with customers at the best industry prices. If you are considering Amazon SES for its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and reliability, this guide will walk you through a systematic migration process.

Scenarios to consider:

When considering a migration to Amazon SES, let’s assess the specific scenarios to consider. These scenarios represent different contexts or situations that a business or individual find themselves in, and each scenario has its unique challenges and considerations. By identifying the appropriate scenario for your situation, you can tailor your migration strategy, anticipate potential challenges, and streamline the transition process. Few common scenarios:

  • Migrating from on-Prem to SES

    • Advantages:

      • Scalability: SES automatically scales with your needs, thus ensuring you don’t face downtimes or need to regularly upgrade your infrastructure.
      • Maintenance/overhead: Maintaining on-Prem email system can be complex and resource-intensive. Some of the tasks include hardware maintenance and scalability, back up or disaster recovery, security, and compliance (relevant to email storage and transmission).
      • Cost-Effectiveness: You only pay for what you send, eliminating overhead costs associated with maintaining and upgrading on-Prem email infrastructure.
      • Security: SES offers built-in security features like email encryption in transit and at rest, and DKIM authentication with automated key rotation, allowing for sending DMARC compliant email.
    • Considerations:

      • Email Sending Limits: SES has sending limits to protect customers from deliverability events resulting from unexpected sending volumes. Customers monitor when they have reached or are approaching their anticipated sending volumes, and may request the limits to be increased.
      • Migration Time: Depending on the volume and complexity migration has to be planned and executed to minimize downtime, maintain data & sending integrity, and maintain high deliverability. This blog goes in detail on the migration process.
      • Email authentication: Setting up email authentication records such as DKIM, SPF, DMARC and BIMI: Ensure you set up domain authentication to allow mailbox providers to build a trusted model based on the messages from your domain. Sending authenticated mail is the best path to deliverability. Additionally adding trust factors to your messages like BIMI (brand indicators for message identification) will help with brand recognition both by the mailbox provider and the end-recipient (ISPs & mailbox providers use DKIM as the authenticated identifier for the trust models to determine if to show the BIMI logo).
  • Migrating from another cloud solution to SES

    • Advantages:

      • Cost Savings: Amazon SES is cost-effective, especially at high volumes.
      • Integration with AWS Services: If you’re using other AWS services, integration is easier with Amazon SES.
      • Expert help: Amazon SES provides email expertise from architectural advise, help with the technical aspects of migrating from one service to another, in addition to email industry experts including deliverability focused specialists.
    • Considerations:

      • Transition Period/migration: Follow the migration path to mitigate transition risks.
      • Update Integrations: Any software or applications integrated with your previous cloud service will need to be reconfigured to work with Amazon SES (ex: SMTP, events, capturing feedback, metrics, etc.).
      • Avoid downtime: You can avoid downtime by ramping up sending gradually by moving each use case into configuration sets and applying warm-up patterns to each campaign as you shift traffic from existing service to Amazon SES.
  • Migrating portion of the load and running a hybrid solution

    • Advantages:

      • Flexibility: You can maintain operations on your existing platform while testing and transitioning to SES, ensuring there’s no disruption.
      • Risk Mitigation: You can monitor your migration progress in multiple steps rather than one single step.
      • Phased Implementation: You can migrate in stages, reducing the complexity of the move.
    • Considerations:

      • Complexity: Running two systems simultaneously will introduce operational & management complexities (For example, maintaining customer opt-out preferences and suppressed email addresses need to be synced into the source lists/database).
      • Cost Implications: While you’re transitioning, you will be paying for two services, which has a cost implication.
      • Consistent Branding: Ensure consistent branding and email design across both platforms to provide a uniform experience for recipients and leverage the same domain identities authenticated with DKIM so that their prior sending reputation is carried over.

Steps for migration:

1. Identify use cases: Before the technicalities, understand and breakdown the types of emails you plan on migrating:

    1. Marketing Campaign emails (e.g., cross-sell, up-sell, new product released)
    2. Transactional Emails (e.g., order confirmations, password resets)
    3. Regular business communications
    4. Inbox use cases
    5. Others (ex: OTP, acquisition, etc.)

2. Architect the flow by splitting marketing and transactional traffic: Differentiate between marketing and transactional emails, ensuring they are distinctly separated. This helps improve email management, deliverability monitoring, and ensures high-priority transactional emails aren’t delayed by large marketing campaigns. It is highly recommended is to split the transactional and marketing email traffic through separate subdomains. Choose whether to use your primary domain (example.com) or a sub-domain (mail.example.com) for sending emails. Using a sub-domain can help divide email traffic and manage domain reputations separately, like marketing.example.com and transactional.example.com. You can create configuration sets, which are sets of rules that are applied to the emails that you send. For example, you can use configuration sets to specify where notifications are sent when an email is delivered, when a recipient opens a message or clicks a link in it, when an email bounces, and when a recipient marks your email as spam. For more information, see Using configuration sets in Amazon SES.

3. Domain verification: Sending authorization policies act as the gatekeeper for authorizing use of a domain identity. Domain verification is a process for Amazon SES to verify the customer owns the domain and causes messages to be signed with a DKIM signature aligned to the domain in the “From” header address of outbound messages. It is a foundational step towards a secure, reputable, and efficient email-sending program. Here’s why domain verification is essential and how it benefits users:

Why is Domain Verification Needed?

  1. Ownership Assurance: Domain verification ensures that the customer is authorized to send emails from the specified domain. By confirming ownership, only customers who have verified a domain identity will have their messages authenticated with a DKIM signature belonging to the domain.
  2. Reduce Spam and Phishing: Ensuring that only verified domain owners can send emails contributes to a trustworthy email ecosystem. Using a verified domain identity ensures that the message is signed with a DKIM signature aligned to the domain in the from header, which means that the message will pass DMARC-style policy enforcement (describes how unauthenticated messages claiming to be from the domain).
  3. Maintain Domain Reputation: If anyone were able to send emails from any domain, it will damage the domain’s reputation that they are sending from, unless they are the owners of it. By sending from a verified domain, it ensures that your domain’s reputation remains intact and is not misused by others.
  4. Compliance with SES Policies: Amazon has set policies to maintain the integrity and reputation of its SES service. Domain verification is in line with these policies, ensuring that all users follow best email practices.

How does domain verification help you?

  1. Enhanced Deliverability: Emails from verified domains are more likely to reach the recipient’s inbox rather than being flagged as spam. Internet Service Providers (ISPs), mailbox providers and email clients trust emails that come from verified sources.
  2. Builds Trust with Recipients: The ability to verify a domain and send from it by proving domain ownership, where recipients trust the messages are actually coming from who they are purporting to be coming from.
  3. Enables Additional Features: In Amazon SES, once your domain is verified, you can also set up domain authentication mechanisms like Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI). These further enhance email deliverability and security.
  4. Monitoring and Reporting: By verifying your domain, you can access granular metrics specific to your domain in the SES dashboard. You can use VDM and its out of the box dashboards, which includes metrics specific to verified identities. This helps in monitoring and improving your email sending practices.

4. Testing in sandbox: Amazon SES starts users in a sandbox environment. Here, you can test sending to only verified email without affecting your production environment or domain reputation. Sandbox has a limit of number of emails you can send per day.

5. Request production access: Once ready, request access to production box by following the steps outlined here: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/dg/request-production-access.html

6. Configure domain authentication:  You can configure your domain to use authentication systems such as DKIM and SPF. This step is technically optional, but highly recommended. By setting up either DKIM or SPF (or both) for your domain, you can improve the deliverability of your emails, and increase the amount of trust that your customers have in you. Here are key resources:

7. IP management: When you create a new Amazon SES account, by default your emails are sent from IP addresses that are shared with other SES users. You can use dedicated IP addresses that are reserved for your exclusive use by leasing them for an additional cost. This gives you complete control over your sender reputation and enables you to isolate your reputation for different segments within email programs. Amazon SES 4 ways of IP Management outlined below:

  1. Shared: Emails are sent through shared IPs.
  2. Dedicated: Emails are sent through dedicated IPs.
  3. Managed dedicated: Emails are sent through dedicated IPs and Amazon SES will determine how many dedicated IPs you require based on your sending patterns. Amazon SES will create them for you, and then manage how they scale based on your sending requirements.
  4. BYOIP: Amazon SES includes a feature called Bring Your Own IP (BYOIP), which makes it possible to use your own IP addresses to send email through Amazon SES. If you already use a range of IP addresses to send email, you can request that we make your IP range (minimum range allowed is /24) available for sending email through Amazon SES.

Based on your use case and need, you can make a decision on how to proceed on IPs after reviewing the comparison matrix.

8. IP Warm up: IP warm-up is a crucial process when introducing a new IP address for sending emails. The goal is to progressively increase email volume sent through the new IP address, allowing mailbox providers to gradually recognize and trust this IP as a legitimate email sender. Sending reputation is built with a combination of sending domain and the IP addressed through which they are delivered.

  • Why is IP warm-up necessary? When an (or a set of) IP address is new (or has been dormant for a while), it lacks a reputation with mailbox providers. If you suddenly start sending large volumes of emails from this new IP, mailbox providers perceive this behavior as suspicious, potentially categorizing these emails as spam or even blocking them. Warming up the IP helps establish a positive sending reputation over time so that mailbox providers can build a positive profile for your sending which includes IP reputation.
  • IP warm-up process:
    • Start Small: Begin by sending a low volume of emails on the first day.
    • Gradually Increase Volume: Each subsequent day, increase the volume. A common strategy is to double the volume every other day, but this depends on your ultimate email volume needs.
    • Target Engaged Users First: In the initial stages, send emails to your top engaged users—those who are more likely to open, click, and not mark your emails as spam. Their positive engagement will bolster the IP’s reputation.
    • Monitor Deliverability Metrics: Keep a close eye on key metrics like delivery rates, open rates, bounce rates, and complaint rates. If you notice issues, you need to slow down the warm-up process.
    • Respond to Feedback: Some mailbox providers offer feedback loops where you can see if recipients marked your emails as spam. This feedback is invaluable during the warm-up phase to adjust your email practices.
    • Spread Sends Throughout the Day: Instead of sending all your emails at once, distribute them throughout the day. This creates a more consistent sending pattern that mailbox providers favor.
    • Continue Best Email Practices: While warming up your IP, it’s crucial to maintain best practices like segmenting your list, regularly cleaning your email list, and sending relevant content.
    • Understand your Mailbox Provider and domain distribution breakdown. For example if you send to 65% gmail.com users, you will want to focus heavily on the Gmail postmaster page and also setup tooling available for that specific Mailbox Provider. In the case of Gmail, it would be Google Postmaster Tools.
    • Identify and track any available reputation tooling for Mailbox Providers you send to. Example: Google Postmaster Tools, Hotmail SNDS, Yahoo Performance Feeds.
    • During warm-up, monitor these daily to track reputation progress.

9. Additional considerations:

  • If you are planning on using a dedicated IP, warming up is crucial. For dedicated or managed dedicated IPs, you need to either manually warm them up or you can leverage Amazon SES’s auto warm-up feature. Shared IP pools (used by ESPs for smaller senders) don’t require individual warm-ups since they have an established reputation.
  • The warm-up duration varies. For some, it might be a 3-4 weeks, while for others, it could stretch to a couple of months, depending on the final email volume you intend to reach.
  • Let’s use an example scenario:
    • Number of emails to be migrated – 10M emails/day.
    • Peak volume throughput – 2M/hour.
    • The below table shows a sample warm-up schedule.
Days Emails sent
Day 1 5000
Day 3 10,000
Day 5 20,000
Day 7 40,000
Day 9 80,000
Day 11 160,000
Day 13 320,000
Day 15 640,000
Day 17 1,280,000
Day 19 2,560,000

10. Generate SMTP credentials: If you plan to send email using an application that uses SMTP, you have to generate SMTP credentials. Your SMTP credentials are different from your regular AWS credentials. These credentials are also unique in each AWS Region. For more information on generating your SMTP credentials, see Obtaining Amazon SES SMTP credentials.

11. Connect to SMTP endpoint: If you use a message transfer agent such as postfix or sendmail, you have to update the configuration for that application to refer to an Amazon SES SMTP endpoint. For a complete list of SMTP endpoints, see Connecting to an Amazon SES SMTP endpoint. Note that the SMTP credentials that you created in the previous step are associated with a specific AWS Region. You have to connect to the SMTP endpoint in the region that you created the SMTP credentials in.

12. Monitor email send: When you send email through Amazon SES, it’s important to monitor the bounces and complaints for your account. You can do one or more of the below for monitoring your email send:

  1. Reputation metrics: Amazon SES includes a reputation metrics console page that you can use to keep track of the bounces and complaints for your account. For more information, see Using reputation metrics to track bounce and complaint rates.
  2. CloudWatch alarms: You can also create CloudWatch alarms that alert you when these rates get too high. For more information about creating CloudWatch alarms, see Creating reputation monitoring alarms using CloudWatch.
  3. Virtual Deliverability Manager (VDM): Deliverability, or ensuring your emails reach recipient inboxes instead of spam or junk folders, is a core element of a successful email strategy. Virtual Deliverability Manager is an out of the box Amazon SES feature that helps you enhance email deliverability. It can help in increasing inbox deliverability and email conversions, by providing insights into your sending and delivery data, and giving advice on how to fix the issues that are negatively affecting your delivery success rate and reputation. VDM has dashboards and advisor features that are built-in, Visit this VDM blog to see how you can improve your email deliverability using VDM.

13. Ramp-up ramp-down strategy: Sending email communication along with maintaining the domain and send reputation is key to any business. The ramp-up ramp-down strategy in the context of email migration, especially to a new email sending platform or a new IP address, is a best practice to ensure that your emails maintain a high deliverability rate and don’t end up being flagged as spam. Let’s delve deeper into what this strategy entails and why it’s crucial:

  1. Gradual volume increase: Start by sending a small number of emails (refer to table below in #12 – IP warm up) and then gradually increase this number over days or weeks. This slow increase allows mailbox providers to recognize and trust your new sending source. Ramp up gradually by moving each use case and applying warm-up pattern to each campaign as you shift traffic. Closely monitor deliverability metrics as you ramp-up. If the metrics show any signs of issue, freeze the warm-up to assess the root cause. Sending stable, predictable patters are the key, avoiding unexpected spikes.
  2. Prioritize engaged recipients: Begin your email sends by targeting recipients who are most likely to open and engage with your emails, like your top active subscribers or customers. Positive interactions, like email opens or link clicks, can boost your new IP’s reputation.
  3. Monitor Feedback loops: Utilize feedback loops offered by mailbox providers to understand if recipients are marking your emails as spam. This immediate feedback can help you tweak your sending practices.
  4. Maintain consistency: While you’re ramping up, maintain consistency in your sending patterns. Avoid erratic sending volumes, which can be red flags for mailbox providers.
  5. Maintain Domain/IP Reputation: Even if you’re sending fewer emails, ensure those emails still adhere to best practices to maintain your domain or IP reputation.

14. Final cut over: After rigorous testing, ramping up, and ensuring your emails are being delivered reliably, you can fully transition to Amazon SES. Monitor continuously, especially during the initial days, to catch and address any potential issues promptly.

Deliverability resources:

Conclusion:

Migrating to Amazon SES offers a host of benefits, but like all IT endeavors, it requires careful thought and execution. By following this comprehensive guide, you can pave a path for a smooth transition, allowing your business to leverage the power of Amazon SES effectively.

About the author:

Vinay Ujjini

Vinay Ujjini is an Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service Worldwide Principal Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. He has been solving customer’s omni-channel challenges for over 15 years. He is an avid sports enthusiast and in his spare time, enjoys playing tennis & cricket.

How quirion created nested email templates using Amazon Simple Email Service (SES)

Post Syndicated from Dominik Richter original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-quirion-created-nested-email-templates-using-amazon-simple-email-service-ses/

This is part two of the two-part guest series on extending Simple Email Services with advanced functionality. Find part one here.

quirion, founded in 2013, is an award-winning German robo-advisor with more than 1 billion Euro under management. At quirion, we send out five thousand emails a day to more than 60,000 customers.

Managing many email templates can be challenging

We chose Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) because it is an easy-to-use and cost-effective email platform. In particular, we benefit from email templates in SES, which ensure a consistent look and feel of our communication. These templates come with a styled and personalized HTML email body, perfect for transactional emails. However, managing many email templates can be challenging. Several templates share common elements, such as the company’s logo, name or imprint. Over time, some of these elements may change. If they are not updated across all templates, the result is an inconsistent set of templates. To overcome this problem, we created an application to extend the SES template functionality with an interface for creating and managing nested templates.

This post shows how you can implement this solution using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB.

Solution: compose email from nested templates using AWS Lambda

The solution we built is fully serverless, which means we do not have to manage the underlying infrastructure. We use AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK) to deploy the architecture.

The figure below describes the architecture diagram for the proposed solution.

  1. The entry point to the application is an API Gateway that routes requests to a Lambda function. A request consists of an HTML file that represents a part of an email template and metadata that describes the structure of the template.
  2. The Lambda function is the key component of the application. It takes the HTML file and the metadata and stores them in a S3 Bucket and a DynamoDB table.
  3. Depending on the metadata, it takes an existing template from storage, inserts the HTML from the request into it and creates a SES email template.

Architecture diagram of the solution: new templates in Amazon SES are created by a Lambda function accessed through API Gateway. THe Lambda function reads and writes HTML from S3 and reads and writes metadata from DynamoDB.

The solution is simplified for this blog post and is used to show the possibilities of SES. We will not discuss the code of the Lambda function as there are several ways to implement it depending on your preferred programming language.

Prerequisites

Walkthrough

Step 1: Use the AWS CDK to deploy the application
To download and deploy the application run the following commands:

$ git clone https://github.com/quirionit/aws-ses-examples.git
$ cd aws-ses-examples/projects/go-src
$ go mod tidy
$ cd ../../projects/template-api
$ npm install
$ cdk deploy

Step 2: Create nested email templates

To create a nested email template, complete the following steps:

  1. On the AWS Console, choose the API Gateway.
  2. You should see an API with a name that includes SesTemplateApi.
    Console screenshot displaying the SesTemplateApi
  3. Click on the name and note the Invoke URL from the details page.

    AWS console showing the invoke URL of the API

  4. In your terminal, navigate to aws-ses-examples/projects/template-api/files and run the following command. Note that you must use your gateway’s Invoke URL.
    curl -F [email protected] -F "isWrapper=true" -F "templateName=m-full" -F "child=content" -F "variables=FIRSTNAME" -F "variables=LASTNAME" -F "plain=Hello {{.FIRSTNAME}} {{.LASTNAME}},{{template \"content\" .}}" YOUR INVOKE URL/emails

    The request triggers the Lambda function, which creates a template in DynamoDB and S3. In addition, the Lambda function uses the properties of the request to decide when and how to create a template in SES. With “isWrapper=true” the template is marked as a template that wraps another template and therefore no template is created in SES. “child=content” specifies the entry point for the child template that is used within m-full.html. It also uses FIRSTNAME and LASTNAME as replacement tags for personalization.

  5. In your terminal, run the following command to create a SES email template that uses the template created in step 4 as a wrapper.

Step 3: Analyze the result

  1. On the AWS Console, choose DynamoDB.
  2. From the sidebar, choose Tables.
  3. Select the table with the name that includes SesTemplateTable.
  4. Choose Explore table items. It should now return two new items.
    Screenshot of the DynamoDB console, displaying two items: m-full and order-confirmation.
    The table stores the metadata that describes how to create a SES email template. Creating an email template in SES is initiated when an element’s Child attribute is empty or null. This is the case for the item with the name order-confirmation. It uses the BucketKey attribute to identify the required HTML stored in S3 and the Parent attribute to determine the metadata from the parent template. The Variables attribute is used to describe the placeholders that are used in the template.
  5. On the AWS Console, choose S3.
  6. Select the bucket with the name that starts with ses-email-templates.
  7. Select the template/ folder. It should return two objects.
    Screenshot of the S3 console, displaying two items: m-full and order-confirmation.
    The m-full.html contains the structure and the design of an email template and is used with the order-confirmation.html which contains the content.
  8. On the AWS Console, choose the Amazon Simple Email Service.
  9. From the sidebar, choose Email templates. It should return the following template.
    Screenshot of the SES console, displaying the order confirmation template

Step 4: Send an email with the created template

  1. Open the send-order-confirmation.json file from aws-ses-examples/projects/template-api/files in a text editor.
  2. Set a verified email address as Source and ToAddresses and save the file.
  3. Navigate your terminal to aws-ses-examples/projects/template-api/files and run the following command:
    aws ses send-templated-email --cli-input-json file://send-order-confirmation.json
  4. As a result, you should get an email.

Step 5: Cleaning up

  1. Navigate your terminal to aws-ses-examples/projects/template-api.
  2. Delete all resources with cdk destroy.
  3. Delete the created SES email template with:
    aws ses delete-template --template-name order-confirmation

Next Steps

There are several ways to extend this solution’s functionality, including the ones below:

  • If you send an email that contains invalid personalization content, Amazon SES might accept the message, but won’t be able to deliver it. For this reason, if you plan to send personalized email, you should configure Amazon SES to send Rendering Failure event notifications.
  • The Amazon SES template feature does not support sending attachments, but you can add the functionality yourself. See part one of this blog series for instructions.
  • When you create a new Amazon SES account, by default your emails are sent from IP addresses that are shared with other SES users. You can also use dedicated IP addresses that are reserved for your exclusive use. This gives you complete control over your sender reputation and enables you to isolate your reputation for different segments within email programs.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we explored how to use Amazon SES with email templates to easily create complex transactional emails. The AWS CLI was used to trigger SES to send an email, but that could easily be replaced by other AWS services like Step Functions. This solution as a whole is a fully serverless architecture where we don’t have to manage the underlying infrastructure. We used the AWS CDK to deploy a predefined architecture and analyzed the deployed resources.

About the authors

Mark Kirchner is a backend engineer at quirion AG. He uses AWS CDK and several AWS services to provide a cloud backend for a web application used for financial services. He follows a full serverless approach and enjoys resolving problems with AWS.
Dominik Richter is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He primarily works with financial services customers in Germany and particularly enjoys Serverless technology, which he also uses for his own mobile apps.

The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

How quirion sends attachments using email templates with Amazon Simple Email Service (SES)

Post Syndicated from Dominik Richter original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-quirion-sends-attachments-using-email-templates-with-amazon-simple-email-service-ses/

This is part one of the two-part guest series on extending Simple Email Services with advanced functionality. Find part two here.

quirion is an award-winning German robo-advisor, founded in 2013, and with more than 1 billion euros under management. At quirion, we send out five thousand emails a day to more than 60,000 customers.

We chose Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) because it is an easy-to-use and cost-effective email platform. In particular, we benefit from email templates in SES, which ensure a consistent look and feel of our communication. These templates come with a styled and personalized HTML email body, perfect for transactional emails. Sometimes it is necessary to add attachments to an email, which is currently not supported by the SES template feature. To overcome this problem, we created a solution to use the SES template functionality and add file attachments.

This post shows how you can implement this solution using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon EventBridge, AWS Lambda and AWS Step Functions.

Solution: orchestrate different email sending options using AWS Step Functions

The solution we built is fully serverless, which means we do not have to manage the underlying infrastructure. We use AWS Cloud Development Kit (AWS CDK) to deploy the architecture and analyze the resources.

The solution extends SES to send attachments using email templates. SES offers three possibilities for sending emails:

  • Simple  — A standard email message. When you create this type of message, you specify the sender, the recipient, and the message body, and Amazon SES assembles the message for you.
  • Raw — A raw, MIME-formatted email message. When you send this type of email, you have to specify all of the message headers, as well as the message body. You can use this message type to send messages that contain attachments. The message that you specify has to be a valid MIME message.
  • Templated — A message that contains personalization tags. When you send this type of email, Amazon SES API v2 automatically replaces the tags with values that you specify.

In this post, we will combine the Raw and the Templated options.

The figure below describes the architecture diagram for the proposed solution.

  1. The entry point to the application is an EventBridge event bus that routes incoming events to a Step Function workflow.
  2. An event consists of the personalization parameters, the sender and recipient addresses, the template name and optionally the document-related properties such as a reference to the S3 bucket in which the document is stored. Depending on whether the event contains document-related properties, the Step Function workflow decides how the email is prepared and sent.
  3. In case the event does not contain document-related properties, it uses the SendEmail action to send a templated email. The action requires the template name and the data to replace the personalization tags.
  4. If the event contains document-related properties, the raw sending option of the SendEmail action must be used. If we also want to use an email template, we need to use that as a raw MIME message. So, we use the TestRenderEmailTemplate action to get the raw MIME message from the template and use a Lambda function to get and add the document. The Lambda function then triggers SES to send the email.

The solution is simplified for this blog post and is used to show the possibilities of SES. We will not discuss the code of the lambda function as there are several ways to implement it depending on your preferred programming language.

Architecture diagram of the solution: an AWS Step Functions workflow is triggered by EventBridge. If the event contains no document, the workflow triggers Amazon SES SendEmail. Otherwise, it uses SES TestRenderEmailTemplate as input for a Lambda function, which gets the document from S3 and then sends the email.

Prerequisites

Walkthrough

Step 1: Use the AWS CDK to deploy the application

To download and deploy the application run the following commands:

$ git clone [email protected]:quirionit/aws-ses-examples.git
$ cd aws-ses-examples/projects/go-src
$ go mod tidy
$ cd ../../projects/email-sender
$ npm install
$ cdk deploy

Step 2: Create a SES email template

In your terminal, navigate to aws-ses-examples/projects/email-sender and run:

aws ses create-template --cli-input-json file://files/hello_doc.json

Step 3: Upload a sample document to S3

To upload a document to S3, complete the following steps:

  1. On the AWS Console, choose the S3.
  2. Select the bucket with the name that starts with ses-documents.
  3. Copy and save the bucket name for later.
  4. Create a new folder called test.
  5. Upload the hello.txt from aws-ses-examples/projects/email-sender/files into the folder.

Screenshot of Amazon S3 console, showing the ses-documents bucket containing the file tes/hello.txt

Step 4: Trigger sending an email using Amazon EventBridge

To trigger sending an email, complete the following steps:

  1. On the AWS Console, choose the Amazon EventBridge.
  2. Select Event busses from the sidebar.
  3. Select Send events.
  4. Create an event as the following image shows. You can copy the Event detail from aws-ses-examples/projects/email-sender/files/event.json. Don’t forget to replace the sender, recipient and bucket with your values.
    Screenshot of EventBridge console, showing how the sample event with attachment is sent.
  5. As a result of sending the event, you should receive an email with the document attached.
  6. To send an email without attachment, edit the event as follows:
    Screenshot of EventBridge console, showing how the sample event without attachment is sent.

Step 5: Analyze the result

  1. On the AWS Console, choose Step Functions.
  2. Select the state machine with the name that includes EmailSender.
  3. You should see two Succeeded executions. If you select them the dataflows should look like this:
    Screenshot of Step Functions console, showing the two successful invocations.
  4. You can select each step of the dataflows and analyze the inputs and outputs.

Step 6: Cleaning up

  1. Navigate your terminal to aws-ses-examples/projects/email-sender.
  2. Delete all resources with cdk destroy.
  3. Delete the created SES email template with:

aws ses delete-template --template-name HelloDocument

Next Steps

There are several ways to extend this solution’s functionality, see some of them below:

  • If you send an email that contains invalid personalization content, Amazon SES might accept the message, but won’t be able to deliver it. For this reason, if you plan to send personalized email, you should configure Amazon SES to send Rendering Failure event notifications.
  • You can create nested templates to share common elements, such as the company’s logo, name or imprint. See part two of this blog series for instructions.
  • When you create a new Amazon SES account, by default your emails are sent from IP addresses that are shared with other SES users. You can also use dedicated IP addresses that are reserved for your exclusive use. This gives you complete control over your sender reputation and enables you to isolate your reputation for different segments within email programs.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we explored how to use Amazon SES to send attachments using email templates. We used an Amazon EventBridge to trigger a Step Function that chooses between sending a raw or templated SES email. This solution uses a full serverless architecture without having to manage the underlying infrastructure. We used the AWS CDK to deploy a predefined architecture and analyzed the deployed resources.

About the authors

Mark Kirchner is a backend engineer at quirion AG. He uses AWS CDK and several AWS services to provide a cloud backend for a web application used for financial services. He follows a full serverless approach and enjoys resolving problems with AWS.
Dominik Richter is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. He primarily works with financial services customers in Germany and particularly enjoys Serverless technology, which he also uses for his own mobile apps.

The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

Building Generative AI into Marketing Strategies: A Primer

Post Syndicated from nnatri original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/building-generative-ai-into-marketing-strategies-a-primer/

Introduction

Artificial Intelligence has undoubtedly shaped many industries and is poised to be one of the most transformative technologies in the 21st century. Among these is the field of marketing where the application of generative AI promises to transform the landscape. This blog post explores how generative AI can revolutionize marketing strategies, offering innovative solutions and opportunities.

According to Harvard Business Review, marketing’s core activities, such as understanding customer needs, matching them to products and services, and persuading people to buy, can be dramatically enhanced by AI. A 2018 McKinsey analysis of more than 400 advanced use cases showed that marketing was the domain where AI would contribute the greatest value. The ability to leverage AI can not only help automate and streamline processes but also deliver personalized, engaging content to customers. It enhances the ability of marketers to target the right audience, predict consumer behavior, and provide personalized customer experiences. AI allows marketers to process and interpret massive amounts of data, converting it into actionable insights and strategies, thereby redefining the way businesses interact with customers.

Generating content is just one part of the equation. AI-generated content, no matter how good, is useless if it does not arrive at the intended audience at the right point of time. Integrating the generated content into an automated marketing pipeline that not only understands the customer profile but also delivers a personalized experience at the right point of interaction is also crucial to getting the intended action from the customer.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a robust platform for implementing generative AI in marketing strategies. AWS offers a range of AI and machine learning services that can be leveraged for various marketing use cases, from content creation to customer segmentation and personalized recommendations. Two services that are instrumental to delivering customer contents and can be easily integrated with other generative AI services are Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service. By integrating generative AI with Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon SES, marketers can automate the creation of personalized messages for their customers, enhancing the effectiveness of their campaigns. This combination allows for a seamless blend of AI-powered content generation and targeted, data-driven customer engagement.

As we delve deeper into this blog post, we’ll explore the mechanics of generative AI, its benefits and how AWS services can facilitate its integration into marketing communications.

What is Generative AI?

Generative AI is a subset of artificial intelligence that leverages machine learning techniques to generate new data instances that resemble your training data. It works by learning the underlying patterns and structures of the input data, and then uses this understanding to generate new, similar data. This is achieved through the use of models like Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), Variational Autoencoders (VAEs), and Transformer models.

What do Generative AI buzzwords mean?

In the world of AI, buzzwords are abundant. Terms like “deep learning”, “neural networks”, “machine learning”, “generative AI”, and “large language models” are often used interchangeably, but they each have distinct meanings. Understanding these terms is crucial for appreciating the capabilities and limitations of different AI technologies.

Machine Learning (ML) is a subset of AI that involves the development of algorithms that allow computers to learn from and make decisions or predictions based on data. These algorithms can be ‘trained’ on a dataset and then used to predict or classify new data. Machine learning models can be broadly categorized into supervised learning, unsupervised learning, semi-supervised learning, and reinforcement learning.

Deep Learning is a subset of machine learning that uses neural networks with many layers (hence “deep”) to model and understand complex patterns. These layers of neurons process different features, and their outputs are combined to produce a final result. Deep learning models can handle large amounts of data and are particularly good at processing images, speech, and text.

Generative AI refers specifically to AI models that can generate new data that mimic the data they were trained on. This is achieved through the use of models like Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs). Generative AI can create anything from written content to visual designs, and even music, making it a versatile tool in the hands of marketers.

Large Language Models (LLMs) are a type of generative AI that are trained on a large corpus of text data and can generate human-like text. They predict the probability of a word given the previous words used in the text. They are particularly useful in applications like text completion, translation, summarization, and more. While they are a type of generative AI, they are specifically designed for handling text data.

Simply put, you can understand that Large Language Model is a subset of Generative AI, which is then a subset of Machine Learning and they ultimately falls under the umbrella term of Artificial Intelligence.

What are the problems with generative AI and marketing?

While generative AI holds immense potential for transforming marketing strategies, it’s important to be aware of its limitations and potential pitfalls, especially when it comes to content generation and customer engagement. Here are some common challenges that marketers should be aware of:

Bias in Generative AI Generative AI models learn from the data they are trained on. If the training data is biased, the AI model will likely reproduce these biases in its output. For example, if a model is trained primarily on data from one demographic, it may not accurately represent other demographics, leading to marketing campaigns that are ineffective or offensive. Imagine if you are trying to generate an image for a campaign targeting females, a generative AI model might not generate images of females in jobs like doctors, lawyers or judges, leading your campaign to suffer from bias and uninclusiveness.

Insensitivity to Cultural Nuances Generative AI models may not fully understand cultural nuances or sensitive topics, which can lead to content that is insensitive or even harmful. For instance, a generative AI model used to create social media posts for a global brand may inadvertently generate content that is seen as disrespectful or offensive by certain cultures or communities.

Potential for Inappropriate or Offensive Content Generative AI models can sometimes generate content that is inappropriate or offensive. This is often because the models do not fully understand the context in which certain words or phrases should be used. It’s important to have safeguards in place to review and approve content before it’s published. A common problem with LLMs is hallucination: whereby the model speaks false knowledge as if it is accurate. A marketing team might mistakenly publish a auto-generated promotional content that contains a 20% discount on an item when no such promotions were approved. This could have disastrous effect if safeguards are not in place and erodes customers’ trust.

Intellectual Property and Legal Concerns Generative AI models can create new content, such as images, music, videos, and text, which raises questions of ownership and potential copyright infringement. Being a relatively new field, legal discussions are still ongoing to discuss legal implications of using Generative AI, e.g. who should own generated AI content, and copyright infringement.

Not a Replacement for Human Creativity Finally, while generative AI can automate certain aspects of marketing campaigns, it cannot replace the creativity or emotional connections that marketers use in crafting compelling campaigns. The most successful marketing campaigns touch the hearts of the customers, and while Generative AI is very capable of replicating human content, it still lacks in mimicking that “human touch”.

In conclusion, while generative AI offers exciting possibilities for marketing, it’s important to approach its use with a clear understanding of its limitations and potential pitfalls. By doing so, marketers can leverage the benefits of generative AI while mitigating risks.

How can I use generative AI in marketing communications?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a comprehensive suite of services that facilitate the use of generative AI in marketing. These services are designed to handle a variety of tasks, from data processing and storage to machine learning and analytics, making it easier for marketers to implement and benefit from generative AI technologies.

Overview of Relevant AWS Services

AWS offers several services that are particularly relevant for generative AI in marketing:

  • Amazon Bedrock: This service makes FMs accessible via an API. Bedrock offers the ability to access a range of powerful FMs for text and images, including Amazon’s Titan FMs. With Bedrock’s serverless experience, customers can easily find the right model for what they’re trying to get done, get started quickly, privately customize FMs with their own data, and easily integrate and deploy them into their applications using the AWS tools and capabilities they are familiar with.
  • Amazon Titan Models: These are two new large language models (LLMs) that AWS is announcing. The first is a generative LLM for tasks such as summarization, text generation, classification, open-ended Q&A, and information extraction. The second is an embeddings LLM that translates text inputs into numerical representations (known as embeddings) that contain the semantic meaning of the text. In response to the pitfalls mentioned above around Generative AI hallucinations and inaccurate information, AWS is actively working on improving accuracy and ensuring its Titan models produce high-quality responses, said Bratin Saha, an AWS vice president.
  • Amazon SageMaker: This fully managed service enables data scientists and developers to build, train, and deploy machine learning models quickly. SageMaker includes modules that can be used for generative AI, such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs).
  • Amazon Pinpoint: This flexible and scalable outbound and inbound marketing communications service enables businesses to engage with customers across multiple messaging channels. Amazon Pinpoint is designed to scale with your business, allowing you to send messages to a large number of users in a short amount of time. It integrates with AWS’s generative AI services to enable personalized, AI-driven marketing campaigns.
  • Amazon Simple Email Service (SES): This cost-effective, flexible, and scalable email service enables marketers to send transactional emails, marketing messages, and other types of high-quality content to their customers. SES integrates with other AWS services, making it easy to send emails from applications being hosted on services such as Amazon EC2. SES also works seamlessly with Amazon Pinpoint, allowing for the creation of customer engagement communications that drive user activity and engagement.

How to build Generative AI into marketing communications

Dynamic Audience Targeting and Segmentation: Generative AI can help marketers to dynamically target and segment their audience. It can analyze customer data and behavior to identify patterns and trends, which can then be used to create more targeted marketing campaigns. Using Amazon Sagemaker or the soon-to-be-available Amazon Bedrock and Amazon Titan Models, Generative AI can suggest labels for customers based on unstructured data. According to McKinsey, generative AI can analyze data and identify consumer behavior patterns to help marketers create appealing content that resonates with their audience.

Personalized Marketing: Generative AI can be used to automate the creation of marketing content. This includes generating text for blogs, social media posts, and emails, as well as creating images and videos. This can save marketers a significant amount of time and effort, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their marketing strategy. Where it really shines is the ability to productionize marketing content creation, reducing the needs for marketers to create multiple copies for different customer segments. Previously, marketers would need to generate many different copies for each granularity of customers (e.g. attriting customers who are between the age of 25-34 and loves food). Generative AI can automate this process, providing the opportunities to dynamically create these contents programmatically and automatically send out to the most relevant segments via Amazon Pinpoint or Amazon SES.

Marketing Automation: Generative AI can automate various aspects of marketing, such as email marketing, social media marketing, and search engine marketing. This includes automating the creation and distribution of marketing content, as well as analyzing the performance of marketing campaigns. Amazon Pinpoint currently automates customer communications using journeys which is a customized, multi-step engagement experience. Generative AI could create a Pinpoint journey based on customer engagement data, engagement parameters and a prompt. This enables GenAI to not only personalize the content but create a personalized omnichannel experience that can extend throughout a period of time. It then becomes possible that journeys are created dynamically by generative AI and A/B tested on the fly to achieve an optimal pre-defined Key Performance Indicator (KPI).

A Sample Generative AI Use Case in Marketing Communications

AWS services are designed to work together, making it easy to implement generative AI in your marketing strategies. For instance, you can use Amazon SageMaker to build and train your generative AI models which assist with automating marketing content creation, and Amazon Pinpoint or Amazon SES to deliver the content to your customers.

Companies using AWS can theoretically supplement their existing workloads with generative AI capabilities without the needs for migration. The following reference architecture outlines a sample use case and showcases how Generative AI can be integrated into your customer journeys built on the AWS cloud. An e-commerce company can potentially receive many complaints emails a day. Companies spend a lot of money to acquire customers, it’s therefore important to think about how to turn that negative experience into a positive one.

GenAIMarketingSolutionArchitecture

When an email is received via Amazon SES (1), its content can be passed through to generative AI models using GANs to help with sentiment analysis (2). An article published by Amazon Science utilizes GANs for sentiment analysis for cases where a lack of data is a problem. Alternatively, one can also use Amazon Comprehend at this step and run A/B tests between the two models. The limitations with Amazon Comprehend would be the limited customizations you can perform to the model to fit your business needs.

Once the email’s sentiment is determined, the sentiment event is logged into Pinpoint (3), which then triggers an automatic winback journey (4).

Generative AI (e.g. HuggingFace’s Bloom Text Generation Models) can again be used here to dynamically create the content without needing to wait for the marketer’s input (5). Whereas marketers would need to generate many different copies for each granularity of customers (e.g. attriting customers who are between the age of 25-34 and loves food), generative AI provides the opportunities to dynamically create these contents on the fly given the above inputs.

Once the campaign content has been generated, the model pumps the template backs into Amazon Pinpoint (6), which then sends the personalized copy to the customer (7).

Result: Another customer is saved from attrition!

Conclusion

The landscape of generative AI is vast and ever-evolving, offering a plethora of opportunities for marketers to enhance their strategies and deliver more personalized, engaging content. AWS plays a pivotal role in this landscape, providing a comprehensive suite of services that facilitate the implementation of generative AI in marketing. From building and training AI models with Amazon SageMaker to delivering personalized messages with Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon SES, AWS provides the tools and infrastructure needed to harness the power of generative AI.

The potential of generative AI in relation to the marketer is immense. It offers the ability to automate content creation, personalize customer interactions, and derive valuable insights from data, among other benefits. However, it’s important to remember that while generative AI can automate certain aspects of marketing, it is not a replacement for human creativity and intuition. Instead, it should be viewed as a tool that can augment human capabilities and free up time for marketers to focus on strategy and creative direction.

Get started with Generative AI in marketing communications

As we conclude this exploration of generative AI and its applications in marketing, we encourage you to:

  • Brainstorm potential Generative AI use cases for your business. Consider how you can leverage generative AI to enhance your marketing strategies. This could involve automating content creation, personalizing customer interactions, or deriving insights from data.
  • Start leveraging generative AI in your marketing strategies with AWS today. AWS provides a comprehensive suite of services that make it easy to implement generative AI in your marketing strategies. By integrating these services into your workflows, you can enhance personalization, improve customer engagement, and drive better results from your campaigns.
  • Watch out for the next part in the series of integrating Generative AI into Amazon Pinpoint and SES. We will delve deeper into how you can leverage Amazon Pinpoint and SES together with generative AI to enhance your marketing campaigns. Stay tuned!

The journey into the world of generative AI is just beginning. As technology continues to evolve, so too will the opportunities for marketers to leverage AI to enhance their strategies and deliver more personalized, engaging content. We look forward to exploring this exciting frontier with you.

About the Author

Tristan (Tri) Nguyen

Tristan (Tri) Nguyen

Tristan (Tri) Nguyen is an Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. At work, he specializes in technical implementation of communications services in enterprise systems and architecture/solutions design. In his spare time, he enjoys chess, rock climbing, hiking and triathlon.

How to Grant Another SES Account or User Permission To Send Emails

Post Syndicated from bajavani original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-to-grant-another-ses-account-or-user-permission-to-send-emails/

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a bulk and transactional email sending service for businesses and developers. To send emails from a particular email address through SES, users have to verify ownership of the email address, the domain used by the email address, or a parent domain of the domain used by the email address. This is referred to as an identity and is treated as a user-owned resource by SES.

For example, to send an email from [email protected], the user must verify ownership of the email address [email protected], the subdomain mail.example.com, or the domain example.com. Only identity owners are allowed to send emails from email addresses covered by their identities.

Why use the sending authorization feature in email?

This post will show you how you can grant another account or user to send emails from the identity that you own . By using sending authorization , you can authorize other users to send emails from the identities that you own using their Amazon SES accounts . In this blog post I’d like to walk you through how to setup sending authorization and addressing common concerns regarding the same.

With sending authorization, you can verify the identity under a single account and then grant the other accounts/users permission to send emails from that verified identity.

Let’s look at the below use case :

For example, if you’re a business owner who has collaborated with a email marketing company to send emails from your domain but you would like that only the domain you own should be verified in your account whereas , the email sending, and the monitoring of those emails ( bounce/complaint/delivery notifications for the emails) should be taken care by the email marketing company itself.

With sending authorization, the business owner can verify the identity in their SES account and provide the necessary permissions to the user of the email marketing company in order to send emails using their domain .

Before we proceed further , there are two important terms shared below which you should know that are used throughout the blog:

Delegate Sender : The user that will be using the verified identity from another account to send email.

Identity Owner : The account where the identity is verified . A policy is attached to an identity to specify who may send for that identity and under which conditions. You can refer the SES developer guide to know more

Overview of solution

  1. If you want to enable a delegate sender to send on your behalf, you create a sending authorization policy and associate the policy to your identity by using the Amazon SES console or the Amazon SES API.
  2. When the delegate sender attempts to send an email through Amazon SES on your behalf, the delegate sender passes the ARN of your identity in the request or in the header of the email as you can see from the Figure 1 shared below. Figure 1 shows the architecture of the sending authorization process.

Figure 1: High Level Overview of Sending Authorization Process

3. When Amazon SES receives the request to send the email, it checks your identity’s policy (if present) to determine if you have authorized the delegate sender to send on the identity’s behalf. If the delegate sender is authorized, Amazon SES accepts the email; otherwise, Amazon SES returns an error message. The error message is similar to error message :“ AccessDenied: User is not authorized to perform ses sendemail”

Walkthrough

In this section, you’ll learn the steps needed to setup email sending authorization:

  1. Create a IAM user in Delegate Sender Account with the necessary email sending permissions.You can read more about the necessary email sending permission in our developer guide
  2. Verify Identity in Identity Owner Account which will be used by the Delegate Sender account later to send email.
  3. Set up Identity policy to authorize the Delegate Sender Account to send emails using an email address or domain (an identity) owned by Identity Owner Account. The below steps illustrates how you can setup the identity policy .
    1. In order to add the identity policy , go to the Verified-identities screen of the SES console, select the verified identity you wish to authorize for the delegate sender to send on your behalf.
    2. Choose the verified identity’s Authorization tab. Please refer the below screenshot for reference :

Choose the verified identity's Authorization tab

You can use both policy generator or create a custom policy .

In the Authorization policies pane, if you wish to use the policy generator to create the policy then you can select Use policy generator from the drop-down. You can create the sending authorization policy depending on your use case . The below screenshot demonstrates the policy generator view :

policy generator view

You can also create the policy using the option “create custom policy ” . Please see the below screenshot for reference for a sample policy :

Add the identity policy to the verified identity in Identity owner account . Check the sample policy below for reference :

{
“Version”: “2008-10-17”,
“Statement”: [
{
“Sid”: “stmt1532578375047”,
“Effect”: “Allow”,
“Principal”: {
“AWS”: “<write ARN of user belonging to Delegate sender account>”
},
“Action”: [
“ses:SendEmail”,
“ses:SendRawEmail”
],
“Resource”: “<write ARN of the identity verified in Identity owner Account >”
}
]
}

Note: Please make sure to write the ARN’s for the Principal and the Resource in the above given sample policy.

3.Click on Apply policy after you have reviewed the authorization policy.

You can use the policy generator to create a sending authorization policy or use Amazon SES API or console to create a custom policy . This policy can also restrict usage based on different conditions . A condition is any restriction about the permission in the statement. A key is the specific characteristic that’s the basis for access restriction .

For more information , you can refer Sending-authorization-policy-examples.

4. Send email from Account B using the source ARN of the identity of Account A .
Here we will be sending emails using the send-email api command using AWS CLI . When you send an email using the Amazon SES API, you specify the content of the message, and Amazon SES assembles a MIME email for you.

This blogpost assumes that you have installed and configured AWS CLI on your terminal. For more information on Installing or updating the latest version of the AWS CLI, refer this link.

aws ses send-email –source-arn “arn:aws:ses:us-east-1:XXXXXXXXX:identity/example.com” –from [email protected] –to [email protected] –text “This is for those who cannot read HTML.” –html “<h1>Hello World</h1><p>This is a pretty mail with HTML formatting</p>” –subject “Hello World”

Replace the From address , To address and source ARN (identity ARN from identity owner account) in the above command.

Once the email request is sent to SES , SES will acknowledge it with a Message ID. This Message ID is a string of characters that uniquely identifies the request and looks something like this: “000001271b15238a-fd3ae762-2563-11df-8cd4-6d4e828a9ae8-000000” .

If you are using SMTP interface for delegate sending, you have to add the authorisation policy in the SMTP user and include the X-SES-SOURCE-ARN, X-SES-FROM-ARN, and X-SES-RETURN-PATH-ARN headers in your message. Pass these headers after you issue the DATA command in the SMTP conversation.

Notifications in case of email sending authorization

If you authorize a delegate sender to send email on your behalf, Amazon SES counts all bounces or complaints that those emails generate toward the delegate sender’s bounce and complaint limits, rather than the identity owner. However, if your IP address appears on third-party anti-spam, DNS-based Blackhole Lists (DNSBLs) as a result of messages sent by a delegate sender, the reputation of your identities may be damaged. For this reason, if you’re an identity owner, you should set up email feedback forwarding for all your identities, including those that you’ve authorized for delegate sending.

For setting up notifications for Identity owner , refer the steps mentioned in the SES developer guide

Delegate senders can and should set up their own bounce and complaint notifications for the identities that you have authorized them to use. They can set up event publishing to to publish bounce and complaint events to an Amazon SNS topic or a Kinesis Data Firehose stream.

Note : If neither the identity owner nor the delegate sender sets up a method of sending notifications for bounce and complaint events, or if the sender doesn’t apply the configuration set that uses the event publishing rule, then Amazon SES automatically sends event notifications by email to the address in the Return-Path field of the email (or the address in the Source field, if you didn’t specify a Return-Path address), even if you disabled email feedback forwarding

Cleaning up resources:

To remove the resources created by this solution:

You can delete the verified identities from Idenitity owner account if you no longer wish to send emails from that verified identity. You can check the SES developer guide for steps for deleting the verified identity .

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 If my delegate sender account is in sandbox, can I send emails from the delegate sender account to non-verified addresses ?

Sanbox Restriction : If delegate sender account is in sandbox mode then you need to submit a limit increase case to move the Delegate sender account out of Sandbox mode to “get rid of the Sandbox limitations“. The AWS account of the delegate sender has to be removed from the sandbox before it can be used to send email to non-verified addresses.

If delegate sender account is in sandbox mode, you will face the following error while email sending to unverified identities :

An error occurred (MessageRejected) when calling the SendEmail operation: Email address is not verified. The following identities failed the check in region US-EAST-1 [email protected]

However , you can sent email to verified identities successfully from the delegate sender account in case of sandbox access .

Q2. Is it necessary to have production access in identity owner account ?
It is not necessary to have the Identity owner account to have production access for using Sending authorization.

Q.3 Will the delegate sender account or the identity owner get charged for the emails sent using sending authorization ?

Billing : Emails sent from the delegate sender account are billed to delegate sender account .

Reputation and sending quota : Cross-account emails count against the delegate’s sending limits, so the delegate is responsible for applying for any sending limit increases they might need. Similarly, delegated emails get charged to the delegate’s account, and any bounces and complaints count against the delegate’s reputation.

Region : The delegate sender must send the emails from the AWS Region in which the identity owner’s identity is verified.

Conclusion:

By using Sending Authorization, identity owners will be able to grant delegate senders the permission to send emails through their own verified identities in SES. With the sending authorization feature, you will have complete control over your identities so that you can change or revoke permissions at any time.

How to verify an email address in SES which does not have an inbox

Post Syndicated from ajibho original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-to-verify-an-email-address-in-ses-which-does-not-have-an-inbox/

Overview of solution

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is an email platform that provides a straightforward and cost-effective solution for sending and receiving emails using your own email addresses and domains.

One of the most common use cases for using separate verified from email address is in online retails/e-commerce platforms. Online/e-commerce platform need to send emails to their customers where the from address should look like “[email protected]. In these cases, the From addresses like [email protected] does not have inbox setup for receiving emails. Using the following solution, you can avoid setting up an inbox for the email identity while still verifying the email address for sending and receiving.

In order to send emails from SES using email/domain identity, we need to have the From email identity or domain verified in Amazon SES in a supported region. When verifying a domain,you have the option to use Easy DKIM or Bring Your Own DKIM(BYOD). For verifying an email address, you need to create an identity in Amazon SES for the respective region. Once the required email address identity is created, you will receive a verification link in your inbox. To successfully verify the email address, simply open the link in your browser. In this case, you would need to have inbox setup for email address to receive the verification link from [email protected].

Verifying a domain in Amazon SES allows you to send emails from any identity associated with that domain. For example, if you create and verify a domain identity called example.com, you don’t need to create separate subdomain identities for a.example.com, a.b.example.com, nor separate email address identities for [email protected], [email protected], and so on. Therefore, the settings for the domain remain the same for all From addresses and you cannot separate you sending activity. You can use this solution to verify the From address without setting up an inbox and differentiate sending activity and tracking based on settings. The benefits of having different email settings from the domain are mentioned below.

Benefits of verifying the email separately for the same domain:

1) When you verify the email along with your domain, you can keep the settings different for the two Identities. You can setup different Configuration sets, notifications and dedicated IP pools for the verified email. This separation enables you to manage domain and email settings independently.
2) You can have two separate emails for sending transaction ([email protected]) and Marketing emails ([email protected]). After assigning different configuration sets, you can monitor the bounces and complaints separately for the sender. A best practice here would be separating the Transactional and Marketing in sub domains. Having both types in the same domain can adversely affect the reputation for your domain, and reduce deliverability of your transactional emails.
3) Using different dedicated IP pools, you can separate the sending IPs for Marketing and transaction or any other emails. Thus, your IP reputation for one use case is not affected by any other emails.

Prerequisite

1) An active AWS account.
2) Administrative Access to the Amazon SES Console and Amazon Simple Storage Service(S3) console.
3) A verified identity (Domain) with an MX record for the domain pointing to a Receiving Endpoint in one of the following region in Amazon SES.

Region Name Region Receiving Endpoint
US East (N. Virginia) us-east-1 inbound-smtp.us-east-1.amazonaws.com
US West (Oregon) us-west-2 inbound-smtp.us-west-2.amazonaws.com
Europe (Ireland) eu-west-1 inbound-smtp.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com

Solution walkthrough

In order to verify the email in SES, we need to verify the link send from Amazon SES in the email inbox. We will setup receiving rule set and add S3 bucket with required permissions to store emails from Amazon SES in S3 bucket. After receiving the email in S3 bucket, download the email to get the verification link. Open the verification link in a browser to complete the process.

Step 1 : How to setup SES Email Receiving Ruleset for S3 bucket

1) Open the Amazon SES console.
2) In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Email Receiving.
Email Receiving Rule set

3) To create a new rule set, choose Create a Rule Set, enter a rule set name, and then choose Create a Rule Set.
Note: If you create a new rule set, select the rule set, and then choose Set as Active Rule Set. Only one of your receipt rule sets can be the active rule set at any given time.


4) Choose Active Rule Set and Choose Create Rule.

Active Ruleset

5) Enter a unique rule name. If your use case requires TLS or spam and virus scanning, then choose Require TLS or Enable spam and virus scanning. To make this an active rule, select the Enabled checkbox. Choose Next.
Receiving Rule Setting

6) To receive emails for specific verified domain, click Add new recipient condition and enter the domain/email address. You can leave it blank and it will store for all the verified domain addresses with receiving setup.
Add recipient condition

7) Choose Add new action, and then choose Deliver to S3 bucket
Action Deliver to S3 bucket

8) Click on Create S3 bucket
Create S3 bucket

9) Enter a unique S3 bucket name and click on ‘Create Bucket’
Note: S3 Bucket policy will be added automatically.
Provide Unique S3 bucket name

(Optional) Choose Message encryption for Amazon SES to use an Amazon Key Management Server (Amazon KMS) key to encrypt your emails.
(Optional) For SNS topic, select an Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) topic to notify you when Amazon SES delivers an email to the S3 bucket.
Add Action in Receiving rule set

10) Click Next and Create Rule.
Review and Create Ruleset

Step 2: Verifying email address in Amazon SES using S3

The following procedure shows you how to verify Email address in Amazon SES.
1) Open the Amazon SES console.
2) In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Verified identities.
3) Choose Create identity.
Create Verified Identity

4) Under Identity details, choose Email address as the identity type you want to create.
5) For Email address, enter the email address that you want to use. The email address must be an address that’s able to receive mail and that you have access to.
(Optional) If you want to Assign a default configuration set, select the check box.
6) To create your email address identity, choose Create identity. After it’s created, you should receive a verification email within five minutes from [email protected].

Create Verified identity and Enter
7) Open the Amazon S3 console.
Go to S3 bucket

8) Open the S3 Bucket that you configured to store the Amazon SES emails. Verify that the bucket contains the test email that you sent. It can take a few minutes for the test email to appear.
Select the Received Email in S3 bucket

9) Select the email/object received in S3 bucket. Click Download.
Download the received email/object

10) Open the Downloaded file in Notepad and copy the verification link under the Subject. Paste the link in your Browser and confirm it.
Open the Downloaded email in Notepad

11) Once the link is confirmed, you can check in SES console and confirm under verified identities that your email address is in verified Status.
Browser link after pasting the verification link

Verified Identity confirmation in SES console

Cleaning up:

You should have successfully verified email address in Amazon SES using S3 bucket. To avoid incurring any extra charges, remember to delete any resources created manually if you no longer need them for monitoring.

Steps for removing the resources:

1) Delete all the created/verified Identities.
2) Delete data regarding Amazon SES receiving Rules.
3) Delete data regarding Amazon S3 bucket.

Conclusion:

In this blog post, we explained the benefits of verifying a separate email address for the verified domain without setting up an inbox. Having separate identities for different use cases helps in efficient management of bounces, complaints, and delivery. You can setup different IP pools using configuration set for different use cases.

Follow-up:

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/manage-incoming-emails-with-ses/
https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/dg/receiving-email.html
https://repost.aws/knowledge-center/ses-receive-inbound-emails

About the Author

Ajinkya bhoite_1Ajinkya Bhoite is Cloud Support Engineer II in AWS and Service Matter Expert in Amazon Simple Email Service(SES). Along with Amazon SES, he is an Amazon S3 enthusiast. He loves helping customers in solving issues related to SES and S3 in their environment. He loves reading, writing and running but not in the same order. He has a fictional novel published on Amazon Kindle by the name Shiva Stone: Hampi’s Hidden treasure.

What is a spam trap and why you should care

Post Syndicated from Jeremy Pierce original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/what-is-a-spam-trap-and-why-you-should-care/

Introduction

While there are many variations of spam traps, they all share one thing in common: they are all addresses that should not be receiving mail. According to Spamhaus, an industry leader in anti-spam efforts that many ISPs and email service providers refer to and ingest spam trap listing data from, “A spam trap is an email address traditionally used to expose illegitimate senders who add email addresses to their lists without permission. They effectively identify email marketers with poor permission and list management practices.” (https://www.spamhaus.com/resource-center/spamtraps-fix-the-problem-not-the-symptom/). Having been identified as sending mail to a spam trap, a sender may find that a significant portion of their mail will be blocked until the listing has been addressed and removed.

By following the best practices outlined in this post, starting with ensuring you are only sending high quality mail to those that have explicitly requested it and continue to find value in it, you can reduce the potential of sending to a spam trap and avoiding the negative impacts that event can cause.

Spam traps are secret, on purpose

The owners of spam traps keep them secret and never reveal them; this is by design. If a spam trap were to be identified then those not following best practices could simply filter and remove that address from lists thus defeating their purpose. The creation and use of spam traps is to highlight possible issues with data collection, list management, and list hygiene. A sender who has sent to a spam trap may be tempted to try to locate and delete a specific spam trap or traps but this doesn’t solve the issue and is highly unlikely to succeed.

What impact can sending to a spam trap have

The impact can vary, depending on items such as the type of trap you sent to, how many times you sent to it, and how the spam trap owner handles these events. It might result in an immediate, public listing on an RBL (real-time block list). ISPs and email providers subscribe to various block lists as a means of supplementing their own anti-spam methods and processes and often move to block mail from both domains and IP addresses identified as sending to spam traps. For some senders, a public RBL listing will result in a significant amount of their mail being blocked. As email is typically a vital part of how business today operates, this could be devastating and difficult to manage after the fact.

Types of spam traps

Below are many of the most common types of spam traps, but this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Classic or Pure Spam traps – Classic spam traps are email addresses that were not created or used by a live person, nor available on any website. In some cases, these are addresses at domains that accept mail to any address before the @ (wildcard domains: e.g., *@example.com).
  • Seeded Traps – Seeded traps are email addresses that anti-spam organizations and others create and purposely plant in various locations online in non-obvious places. The purpose of this “seeding” is to identify when a sender is scraping addresses across the internet and/or has purchased a list from someone who has. This process highlights senders who are sending mail without consent and may not be honoring requests to unsubscribe.
  • Recycled email addresses – These were once-valid email addresses and are the kind of trap a sender can send to even if every address on their list was originally confirmed opt-in. Recycled spam traps are often quite old addresses that were no longer in use or abandoned by the original owner. Abandoned for so long, in fact, the provider has repurposed it as a trap to identify senders who have not properly maintained the hygiene of their sending lists. This indicates a sender has not been active in keeping lists up to date and pruning inactive subscribers or bounced emails. Often, as part of repurposing these addresses, the provider will ensure the address will bounce for 12 months or more, indicating to the sender that the address is no longer valid and only moving to listing the spam trap and sender after having given them that grace period.
  • Typo traps – Email addresses that have a typo in the domain, such as @gmial or @yaho, instead of @gmail or @yahoo respectively. These may also be typos in the username, before the @. These may occur when email addresses are collected offline and entered into a database later, or potentially entered incorrectly by the user themselves and was not confirmed. These traps are quite common, but are not “pure” spam traps and anti-spam organizations typically weigh them with this in mind.
  • Fake addresses – Registration and shopping cart forms often attract fake email addresses. Perhaps an offer is presented on a site that requires an entry, wherein someone enters submits an address like [email protected], which may very well be a spam trap address.

How to avoid sending to spam traps

The first step to avoiding sending to a spam trap is to ensure you are only sending mail to those that have explicitly requested it. Your subscribers should find value in your mail and should fully expect to receive it. The key is getting permission from those users and meeting those expectations. It is strongly recommended that you implement confirmed opt-in or double opt-in, the process of sending a message to the address provided that contains a link or other mechanism for the subscriber to confirm that they approve of the subscription. If there is no response received, that address should not be sent any further mail.

Do not purchase a sending list from a third party. It should go without saying, considering the first step above, however, some senders may be tempted to “kick start” their sending with every intention to transition to best practices but just want a quick boost. This will often result in excessive bounces, recipients marking mail as spam (known as complaints), and ending up with spam traps on sending lists.

Once you have an established list of recipients, addresses that have confirmed opt-in to your mail and value the content you are sending, you need to look at your list management. You should be tracking user engagement for things such as: has a recipient opened your mail recently, has a recipient clicked through a link in your mail, has that user logged in to your site or service. With this tracking in place you should be regularly, preferably automatically, pruning your sending list of non-engaged subscribers. It isn’t recommended to send mail to subscribers who have not engaged for 6 months or longer.

You should also be consistently addressing and removing bounce and complaint addresses. As noted, some spam traps may bounce for 12 months or more before going “live” as a spam trap, providing senders ample time to remove a no longer valid address. This involves tracking and monitoring your sending, ingesting that data, and acting upon those events.

Make sure all webforms have been secured by means such as adding CAPTCHA, in conjunction with confirmed opt-in to help prevent bots from maliciously submitting addresses to your sending lists.

You should immediately honor any and all unsubscribe requests. These addresses may be used by real individuals, and that user may very well be involved in anti-spam efforts and organizations themselves in some way. By not honoring an unsubscribe request you may be sending mail to someone who takes part in blocking decisions, or you may end up with excessive complaints that also negatively impact your sending reputation.

What to do if you have sent to a spam trap

If you haven’t already put in place the methods and best practices above to avoid sending to a spam trap, you should work to immediately implement them. You should also regularly perform rigorous reviews of your data collection and verification practices, identifying and addressing any potential areas of concern or lists/subscribers that cannot be sourced and verified. Segment your lists into recipient activity such as opens, clicks and forwards, immediately removing unengaged addresses for a lesser time frame than what you should already have in place. You may consider performing a permission pass, a one-time campaign to recipients (specifically those left after segmenting and removing of all non-verifiable addresses and older non-engaged recipients) providing users the opportunity to confirm that they would still like to receive mail from you. Only those that have confirmed their subscription status should be kept on future sending lists.

In conclusion

Implementing these best practices, before you begin sending in bulk, can be key in gaining and maintaining a quality sending reputation and is a vital part of successful marketing for businesses both large and small. These processes can significantly improve ROI, mail list quality and integrity, and reduce the possibility of sending to a spam trap, resulting in the best chance of getting your mail in the inboxes of your subscribers

For more information on best practices see:

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/ses/latest/dg/best-practices.html

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/handling-bounces-and-complaints/

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/guide-to-maintaining-healthy-email-database/

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/amazon-ses-set-up-notifications-for-bounces-and-complaints/

How to send your first email on SES

Post Syndicated from Dustin Taylor original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/how-to-send-your-first-email-on-ses/

Introduction

Sending your first email on any service can be complicated. In this blog we will walk you through how to send your first email on Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) through the SES Console and to direct you to examples of how you can send email through the AWS SDK. Our public documentation includes additional information on how you can configure SES. We encourage you to read through these documents to learn about these other mechanisms in the future.

Getting Started

Getting started with sending an email on SES requires three actions which are: 1) verifying a domain or email address 2) requesting production access to SES and 3) sending your first email. Let’s walk through each of these steps and send our first email.

Verifying an Identity

To start, you will configure what email address or domain your customers will receive emails from. As part of this verification, you will need to be able to either receive a confirmation email at the email address you are trying to setup, or to publish CNAME records for your intended domain. Generally, we recommend using a domain for your email sending as this gives you the ability to set up SPF, DKIM, and DMARC alignment which will increase recipient trust in your emails. Email addresses can be used for account-specific email sending where a customer may not own a domain, but this type of use-case is prone to receiving entities having low trust in the sender and a lower probability of inbox placement. For more in-depth instructions please review our public documentation as I will briefly touch on the most important pieces to verifying a domain or email address.

To verify an identity, you can go to the SES Console and click the ‘Verified identities’ link on the left-hand side of the screen. It will then present you with a list of verified domains or email addresses currently in your account if they were previously verified. There is a yellow button that states ‘Create identity’, when you click this you will be presented with a screen to choose whether to verify an email address or domain.

Email Address Verification

To verify an email address, you will be prompted with the following dialog:

The dialog presented to a sender when they choose to verify an email address in the SES console.

To verify an email address to use as your sending identity, you will include the address in the ‘Email address’ field and then click the ‘Create identity’ button. This will trigger an automated email to the address with a verification link that will need to be clicked to verify ownership of the email address. Once verified, you can begin sending emails from your new email address identity.

Domain Verification

To start verifying a domain you will click the ‘Verified identities’ option from the ‘Configuration’ dropdown which can be found on the left side of the screen. When choosing to verify a domain, you will be presented with a series of dialogs which include:

The dialog presented to a sender that prompts a decision to verify a domain or email address.

Here you will need to include the domain you intend to use for email sending. If you are keeping to a basic configuration on SES this will be the only data you need to add to this dialog. However, it is recommended to also use a custom mail-from. A custom mail-from is a way for you to remove the amazonses.com domain from your mail-from header to ensure domain alignment throughout your headers. You can find more information about the custom mail-from addresses in our documentation.

After finishing your changes in the first dialog you will then be presented with a second dialog that looks like the following:

The dialog which allows a sender to verify the domain they intend to use to send email.

To verify the domain, you will need to utilize either the Easy DKIM feature, or to provide a DKIM authentication token if you plan to DKIM sign your own messages. In selecting the ‘Easy DKIM’ option, you will be presented with the option to use either 1024 bit or 2048 bit signing key length. We would recommend utilizing the 2048 bit signing key length for most customers as this is the more secure key.

If you use Amazon Route53 as your DNS provider, SES can automatically publish DNS records for your domain. If not, this step will require you to edit your DNS records to include three CNAME records which are used for the DKIM signature process and as a mechanism to prove domain ownership. An example of the CNAME records is as follows:

An example dialog of the CNAME records that are generated when attempting to verify an identity.

Once you have placed these DNS records SES will periodically attempt to look-up the records to change the status of your domain verification. If SES doesn’t automatically update the status, you are presented with the option to force another check to verify the records are present.

After your domain verification is successful, you are now ready to send emails from any email address for your domain.

Requesting Production Access

Now that you’ve verified an identity, the next step is to be able to send an email to an unverified identity you will need to request production access. If you only want to test to your own domain or email address you can skip this step until you are ready to send to unverified recipients.

Note: This is region-based, a request for production access is limited to the region in which you are requesting. 

To begin this process, you will navigate to the SES Console and the ‘Account dashboard’ section. Once you are on this page you will be presented with the following dialog at the top of your screen.

Clicking the ‘Request production access’ button will then navigate to the ‘Request details’ page which you can reference below.

The dialog from the SES console showing that the SES account is still in the sandbox.
Fill out each section with the details of your mail-type, website URL, use case description, and then acknowledging that you have read and agree to the AWS Service Terms and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). When filling out the use case description, provide as much detail as you can for your request as our teams will review to determine if we need more information before approving or denying your request. An example of a good use case description would look like the following:

“Example.com is the domain my company intends to use to send our transactional emails. Our recipients are all customers who have either signed up for an account, requested a new password, or have made purchases through our website. We require confirmation of opt-in for all our new accounts and if no confirmation is received, we do not attempt to send an email to that address.”

Note: SES will review your production access request and will provide feedback on your use case and whether it could pose a risk to the sending reputation of SES, our customers, or your own sending domain.

Finally, click the ‘Submit request’ button to submit your request for production access. This will create an AWS Support case and will be reviewed by our team. These requests are reviewed with a 24-hour Service Level Agreement (SLA). While you are waiting for production access you can send test emails to any of the Mailbox Simulator endpoints or to your own verified domain(s) or email address(es).

Sending Your First Email

From the Console

To send your first email from the SES Console you will need to start by clicking the ‘Verified identities’ option from the ‘Configuration’ dropdown which can be found on the left side of the screen. From here you will select the domain and/or email address you want to send your email from and then click the ‘Send test email’ button, which will open the following screen:

The message details dialog where a sender can send an email from the SES console

From here you will fill out the ‘From-address’ box with the local name (anything before the @ sign) that you want to use to send the email. If you want to test SES functionality you can choose any of the dropdown events present, or you can choose the ‘Custom’ option which will allow you to set a ‘Custom recipient’ address of your choosing. Then you will fill out the ‘Subject’ and ‘Body’ fields with the content you will use for this first test email and then click the ‘Send test email’ button.

Congratulations, you’ve sent your first email from the SES Console! Now, utilizing SES to send single emails from the console isn’t the most scalable way to send email. In the next section, I will provide you links to our documentation for the 5 programming languages supported with the AWS SDK so that you can begin building your integration with SES.

From Code

The AWS Documentation includes some code snippets on how to send an email with SES via the AWS SDK. You can find examples of how to send an email from languages such as: .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby, and Python. We highly recommend reviewing our documentation to see these introductory code snippets to get you started.

Conclusion

Hopefully this blog post has aided you in your journey to send your first email through SES. From verifying a domain, requesting production access, and finally sending an email through the console. Take this knowledge and build upon it for future success in sending email through SES. Happy sending!

Manage Incoming Emails at Scale with Amazon SES

Post Syndicated from Bruno Giorgini original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/manage-incoming-emails-with-ses/

Introduction

Are you looking for an efficient way to handle incoming emails and streamline your email processing workflows? In this blog post, we’ll guide you through setting up Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) for incoming email, focusing on the setup, monitoring, and use of receipt rules to optimize your email handling.

Amazon SES is a powerful and flexible cloud-based email service that enables you to send and receive emails at scale, while ensuring high deliverability and maintaining compliance with email best practices. By using Amazon SES for incoming email, you can customize your email processing pipeline and seamlessly integrate with other AWS services such as Amazon S3, AWS Lambda, and Amazon SNS.

We’ll start by walking you through the process of verifying your domain and setting up DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to ensure your emails are secure and authenticated. Next, we’ll explain how to create and manage receipt rule sets and add receipt rules with various actions for different processing scenarios. We’ll also cover monitoring your email processing using Amazon CloudWatch metrics.

As we progress, we’ll dive into advanced topics such as conditional receipt rules and chaining receipt rules, which can help you build complex and tailored email processing workflows, including multi-tenant scenarios. By the end of this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of how to harness the power of Amazon SES for your incoming email needs.

So, let’s get started on simplifying your incoming email processing with Amazon SES!

Setting up Amazon SES for email receiving

Identifying the AWS region

For new users of the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) inbound feature, it’s important to understand that all AWS resources used for receiving email with Amazon SES, except for Amazon S3 buckets, need to be in the same AWS Region as the Amazon SES endpoint. This means that if you are using Amazon SES in a specific region, such as US West (Oregon), any additional resources like Amazon SNS topics, AWS KMS keys, and Lambda functions also need to be created in the same US West (Oregon) Region. Additionally, to successfully receive email with Amazon SES within a particular Region, you must create an active receipt rule set specifically in that Region. By adhering to these guidelines, new users can effectively configure and utilize the inbound feature of Amazon SES, ensuring seamless email reception and efficient management of related resources. Amazon SES only supports email receiving in certain AWS Regions. For a complete list of Regions where email receiving is supported, see Amazon Simple Email Service endpoints and quotas in the AWS General Reference.

Verifying your domain

Before you can start receiving emails with Amazon SES, you must verify your domain. Domain verification is a crucial step in the setup process, as it confirms your ownership of the domain and helps prevent unauthorized use. In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of verifying your domain in the Amazon SES console.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Verified identities.
  3. In the list of Identities section, choose Create identity.
  4. Under Identity details, choose Domain as the Identity type field. You must have access to the domain’s DNS settings to complete the domain verification process.
  5. Enter the name of the domain or subdomain in the Domain field.
  6. You must configure DKIM as part of the domain verification process. For Advanced DKIM settings, ensure that the Enabled box is checked in the DKIM signatures field.
  7. Choose Create identity. 
  8. This will generate a list of DNS records that you need to add to your domain’s DNS configuration. These can be found in the DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) container, under Publish DNS records.

    SES DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

    Publish DNS records

  9. Add the generated DNS records to your domain’s DNS configuration. These records include a Legacy TXT record for domain verification and CNAME records for DKIM authentication. You may need to consult your domain registrar’s documentation for instructions on adding DNS records.
  10. Once the DNS records have been added, return to the Amazon SES console and wait for your domain’s verification status to change from “Verification pending” to “Verified.” This process may take up to 72 hours, depending on your domain registrar’s DNS propagation time.

Publishing an MX record for Amazon SES email receiving

To enable email receiving with Amazon SES, you need to publish an MX (Mail Exchange) record in your domain’s DNS configuration. The MX record directs incoming emails to Amazon SES for processing. Follow these steps to publish the MX record:

  1. Log in to your domain registrar or DNS management console.
  2. Locate the DNS management section for your domain.
  3. Create a new MX record by specifying the following details:
    • Host/Name/Record: Leave this field blank or enter “@” to represent the root domain.
    • Value/Points to/Target: Enter the value “10 inbound-smtp.[AWS Region].amazonaws.com“, replacing [AWS Region] with the AWS region where you are using Amazon SES for email receiving. For example, if you are using US West (Oregon) region, the value should be “10 inbound-smtp.us-west-2.amazonaws.com“.
    • TTL (Time to Live): Set a TTL value according to your preference or leave it as the default.
  4. Save the MX record.

Once the MX record is published with the correct value, incoming emails addressed to your domain will be routed to Amazon SES for processing. Remember to ensure that any other email-related resources, such as SNS topics or Lambda functions, are also created in the same AWS region as your Amazon SES endpoint.

For more detailed information on publishing MX records for Amazon SES email receiving, you can refer to the official documentation.

Creating a Receipt Rule set

A receipt rule set is a collection of rules that define how Amazon SES processes incoming emails for your domain. Each rule contains one or more actions that determine the processing flow of incoming emails. In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of creating a new receipt rule set in the Amazon SES console and activating it for your domain.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Email receiving.
    • Note: if you don’t see the Email receiving option in the menu, check again that you’re in fact in a region supporting this feature.
  3. Under the Receipt rule sets tab in the Email receiving pane, choose Create rule setimage-20230523131953561.png
  4. Enter a name for your new rule set in the Rule set name field. This name should be descriptive and easy to identify, such as “MyApp-IncomingEmail.”
  5. After entering a unique name, choose Create rule setimage-20230523132526096.png
  6. To activate the newly created rule set, choose Set as active next to your rule set’s name. This action will ensure that Amazon SES uses this rule set for processing incoming emails to your domain. Your new rule set will now be listed in the Active rule set section.

For more information on creating and managing receipt rule sets, you can refer to the official documentation.

In the next section, we’ll explore adding receipt rules to your rule set, which define the specific actions to be taken for incoming emails.

Adding Receipt Rules

Receipt rules define the specific actions that Amazon SES should take when processing incoming emails for your domain. Common actions include saving the email to an Amazon S3 bucket, invoking an AWS Lambda function, or publishing a notification to an Amazon SNS topic. In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of adding receipt rules to your rule set in the Amazon SES console and provide examples of when to use each action.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Email receiving.
  3. Under the Email receiving pane, in the Receipt rule sets tab, select the name of your active rule set from the All rule sets section. This will navigate to the details page for that rule set.
  4. Choose Create rule to begin creating a new receipt rule.
  5. On the Define rule settings page, under Receipt rule details, enter a unique Rule name.
    • For Status, only clear the Enabled checkbox if you don’t want to run this rule after creation.
    • (Optional) For Transport Layer Security (TLS), by selecting Required you can enforce a specific TLS policy for incoming emails that match this rule. By default, Amazon SES will use the Optional policy, which means it will attempt to use TLS but will not require it.
    • For Spam and virus scanning, only clear the Enabled checkbox if you don’t want Amazon SES to scan incoming messages for spam and viruses.
  6. After entering a unique rule name, choose Next.
  7. On the Add recipients conditions page, under Recipients conditions, use the following procedure to specify one or more recipient conditions. You can have a maximum of 100 recipient conditions per receipt rule.
    • Under Recipient condition, specify the email addresses or domains that this rule should apply to. You can use wildcards to match multiple addresses or domains. For example, you can enter example.com and .example.com to apply the rule to all email addresses within the example.com domain and within all of its subdomains.
    • Repeat this step for each recipient condition you want to add. When you finish adding recipient conditions, choose Next.
  8. On the Add actions page, open the Add new action menu and select the desired action from the list, such as Deliver to S3 bucket, Invoke AWS Lambda function, or Publish to Amazon SNS topic. Configure the selected action’s settings as required.
    • Deliver to S3 bucket: Choose this action if you’re expecting emails with large attachments, need to store emails for archival purposes, or plan to process emails using other AWS services that integrate with Amazon S3. You’ll need to specify the Amazon S3 bucket where the incoming emails should be stored.
    • Invoke AWS Lambda function: Choose this action if you want to process incoming emails using custom logic, such as filtering, parsing, or modifying the email content. You’ll need to specify the AWS Lambda function that should be invoked when an incoming email matches this rule.
    • Publish to Amazon SNS topic: Choose this action if you’re processing smaller emails or want to receive real-time notifications when an email arrives. You’ll need to specify the Amazon SNS topic where notifications should be published.
    • For more information and additional actions, see the Action options section of the Developer Guide.
  9. Once configured, choose Next to proceed to the Review page.
  10. On the Review page, review the settings and actions of the rule. If you need to make changes, choose the Edit option.
  11. When finished, choose Create rule to add the new receipt rule to your rule set. The rule will now be applied to incoming emails that match the specified recipient conditions.
image.png

You can create multiple receipt rules within a rule set, each with different actions and conditions. Amazon SES will apply the rules in the order they appear in the rule set. For more information on creating and managing receipt rules, you can refer to the official documentation.

Monitoring your incoming email

Configuring Amazon CloudWatch metrics

Once you have enabled email receiving in Amazon SES and created receipt rules for your emails, you can monitor and view the metrics using Amazon CloudWatch. Follow these steps to configure Amazon CloudWatch metrics for Amazon SES email receiving:

  1. Open the Amazon CloudWatch console.
  2. Navigate to the Metrics section and select All metrics.
  3. In the list of available metrics, locate and select SES to view SES-related metrics.
  4. Expand the Receipt Rule Set Metrics and Receipt Rule Metrics sections to access the specific metrics for your receipt rule sets and rules.
  5. Under Receipt Rule Set Metrics, you will find the following metrics:
    • “Received”: Indicates whether SES successfully received a message that has at least one rule applying. The metric value is always 1.
    • “PublishSuccess”: Indicates whether SES successfully executed all rules within a rule set.
    • “PublishFailure”: Indicates if SES encountered an error while executing rules within a rule set. The error may allow for retrying the execution.
    • “PublishExpired”: Indicates that SES will no longer retry executing the rules within a rule set after four hours.

These metrics can be filtered by the dimension RuleSetName to obtain data specific to individual rule sets.

  1. Under Receipt Rule Metrics, you will find the following metrics:
    • “Received”: Indicates whether SES successfully received a message and will try to process the applied rule. The metric value is always 1.
    • “PublishSuccess”: Indicates whether SES successfully executed a rule that applies to the received message.
    • “PublishFailure”: Indicates if SES encountered an error while executing the actions in a rule. The error may allow for retrying the execution.
    • “PublishExpired”: Indicates that SES will no longer retry executing the actions of a rule after four hours.

These metrics can be filtered by the dimension RuleName to obtain data specific to individual rules.

  1. Note that the metrics will only appear in the CloudWatch console if you have enabled email receiving, created receipt rules, and received mail that matches any of your rules.
  2. Keep in mind that changes made to fix your receipt rule set will only apply to emails received by Amazon SES after the update. Emails are always evaluated against the receipt rule set in place at the time of receipt.

Amazon SES also provides an Automatic Dashboard for SES in the CloudWatch console, which offers a preconfigured set of SES metrics and alarms to monitor your email sending and receiving activity. This dashboard provides a consolidated view of key metrics, making it easier to track the performance and health of your Amazon SES environment.

By configuring Amazon CloudWatch metrics, you can gain valuable insights into the performance and execution of your receipt rule sets and rules within Amazon SES. For more detailed information on viewing metrics for Amazon SES email receiving using Amazon CloudWatch, refer to the official documentation.

Using receipt rules effectively

Chaining Receipt Rules

Chaining receipt rules enable you to create sophisticated email processing workflows by linking multiple rules together, allowing each rule to apply specific actions based on the outcome of the previous rule. This advanced technique can help you achieve greater flexibility and precision in handling your incoming emails with Amazon SES. In this section, we’ll explain how to create chained receipt rules and provide examples of common use cases.

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console.
  2. Under the Email receiving pane, in the Receipt rule sets tab, select the name of your active rule set from the All rule sets section
  3. Review the existing rules in your rule set and ensure that they are ordered correctly. Chaining relies on the order of the rules, as each rule’s conditions and actions are evaluated sequentially. Under the Reorder tab, the rule orders can be modified by selecting the corresponding arrow associated with each.
  4. To chain additional rules, follow the steps previously outlined in the Adding Receipt Rules section and adjust the rule orders as necessary.

Chaining receipt rules can help you build complex email processing workflows with Amazon SES. Some common use cases include:

  • Executing multiple filtering criteria in an order that you specify. For example, adding a specific header value and then sending to additional AWS services such as Amazon S3, Amazon SNS, or AWS Lambda.
  • Creating multi-stage processing pipelines, where the output of one action (e.g., saving an email to Amazon S3) is used as the input for the next action (e.g., processing the email with AWS Lambda).
  • Implementing fallback actions, where the first rule in the chain attempts a specific action (e.g., saving an email to a primary S3 bucket), and if it fails, the next rule in the chain applies a different action (e.g., saving the email to a secondary S3 bucket).

The following figure shows how receipt rules, rule sets, and actions relate to each other.

SES Chaining multiple rules in a rule set

For more information on creating and managing receipt rules, you can refer to the official documentation.

Handling the 200 Receipt Rules per Rule Set limit

For each AWS account, Amazon SES imposes a limit of 200 receipt rules per receipt rule set. While this limit is sufficient for most use cases, there might be situations where you need to process a higher volume of incoming emails with more complex rule sets. These are some strategies to work around the 200 receipt rule limit using Amazon SES and other AWS services:

  • Utilize rule chaining: As mentioned earlier, chaining receipt rules allows you to link multiple rules together, effectively extending the number of actions you can perform for a single email. By chaining rules, you can create more complex processing workflows without exceeding the 200 rule limit.
  • Combine rules with actions: Instead of creating separate rules for each scenario, consider combining multiple actions within a single rule. This approach can help you reduce the total number of rules while still catering to various email processing requirements.
  • Use AWS Lambda for custom processing: Leverage AWS Lambda to perform custom processing on incoming emails. By incorporating Lambda functions in your receipt rules, you can handle more complex processing tasks without increasing the number of rules. This approach also allows you to offload some processing logic from Amazon SES to Lambda, providing additional flexibility.
  • Consolidate similar actions: If you have several rules performing similar actions, it is advisable to consolidate them into a single rule with multiple actions. This consolidation can help you reduce the total number of rules while maintaining the desired functionality.
  • Evaluate rule usage: Regularly review and evaluate your existing receipt rules to identify any rules that are no longer in use or can be optimized. Removing or consolidating unnecessary rules can help you stay within the 200 rule limit while still addressing your email processing requirements.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively work around the 200 receipt rule limit in Amazon SES and build more complex email processing workflows to cater to your specific needs. Remember to monitor and optimize your rule sets regularly to make the most of the available resources and maintain efficient email processing.

For more information on the inbound quotas and limits in Amazon SES, you can refer to the official AWS documentation at Quotas related to email receiving.

Best Practices for multi-tenant scenarios

When dealing with multi-tenant scenarios in your application, it’s crucial to manage incoming emails efficiently to ensure smooth operation and a seamless experience for your users. In this section, we’ll provide best practices to handle incoming emails in multi-tenant environments using Amazon SES.

In a multi-tenant scenario, where multiple customers or tenants share a single AWS account, it’s important to consider the limit of 200 receipt rules per receipt rule set imposed by Amazon SES. To ensure compliance with this limit and maintain optimal email processing, the following practices are recommended:

  • Segregate tenants using email subdomains: Create unique subdomains for each tenant and route their incoming emails accordingly. This approach makes it easier to manage email processing rules and helps isolate tenants from potential issues.
  • Create separate rule sets for each tenant: By creating dedicated rule sets for each tenant, you can maintain better control over email processing rules and actions specific to their needs. This can simplify management and make it easier to update rules for individual tenants without affecting others.
  • Use tags to identify tenant-specific emails: Apply tags to incoming emails using the AddHeader action in your receipt rules. These tags can include tenant-specific identifiers, which will help you route and process emails correctly. You can later use these tags in other AWS services (e.g., AWS Lambda) to process tenant-specific emails.
  • Leverage conditional receipt rules: Utilize conditional receipt rules to apply tenant-specific processing based on email headers, recipients, or other criteria. This way, you can ensure that the right actions are taken for each tenant’s incoming emails.
  • Monitor tenant-specific metrics: Configure Amazon CloudWatch metrics and alarms for each tenant to track their email processing performance separately. This enables you to keep a close eye on individual tenants and take appropriate actions when needed.
  • Implement rate limiting: To prevent tenants from overwhelming your email processing pipeline, consider implementing rate limiting based on the number of incoming emails per tenant. This can help ensure fair resource allocation and prevent potential abuse.
  • Ensure security and privacy: Always encrypt tenant data at rest and in transit, and follow best practices for data protection and privacy. Consider using AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to manage encryption keys for each tenant.
  • Test and validate rule sets: Before deploying rule sets for tenants, thoroughly test and validate them to ensure they function as intended. This can help prevent unexpected behavior and maintain a high level of service quality.

By following these best practices for handling incoming emails in multi-tenant scenarios with Amazon SES, you can ensure a robust and efficient email processing pipeline that caters to each tenant’s unique requirements. As you continue to work with Amazon SES in multi-tenant environments, stay up to date with AWS documentation and best practices to further optimize your email processing workflows.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve explored how to set up Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) for incoming email processing using receipt rules, rule sets, and various actions. We’ve covered domain verification, DKIM setup, creating and managing rule sets, adding receipt rules, and configuring Amazon CloudWatch metrics and alarms. We’ve also delved into advanced topics such as chaining receipt rules for more complex email processing workflows.

By following this guide, you can effectively leverage Amazon SES to process and manage your incoming emails, optimizing your email workflows, and maintaining high email deliverability standards. With Amazon SES, you can customize your email processing pipeline to meet your specific needs and seamlessly integrate with other AWS services such as Amazon S3, AWS Lambda, Amazon SNS, and Amazon CloudWatch.

In future blog posts, we will explore monitoring and alerting in more detail, providing you with additional insights on how to effectively monitor your email processing pipelines and set up alerts for critical events. Stay tuned for more information on this important aspect of managing your email infrastructure.

As you continue to work with Amazon SES and its email receiving capabilities, remember to review AWS best practices and documentation to stay up to date with new features and improvements. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different rule sets, actions, and conditions to find the perfect email processing solution for your use case.

Amazon SES – Set up notifications for bounces and complaints

Post Syndicated from Vinay Ujjini original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/amazon-ses-set-up-notifications-for-bounces-and-complaints/

Why is it important to monitor bounces and complaints when using Amazon Simple Email Service?

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a scalable cloud email service provider that is cost-effective and flexible. Amazon SES allows businesses and individuals to send bulk emails to their customers and subscribers. However, as with any email service, there is always a risk of emails bouncing or being marked as spam by recipients. These bounces and complaints can have serious consequences for your email deliverability and can even lead to your email account being suspended or blocked. That’s why it’s important to monitor bounces and complaints when using Amazon SES for email sending. By using Simple Notification Services (Amazon SNS) notifications, you can set up notifications and proactively address any issues and ensure that your emails are delivered successfully to your intended recipients. In this blog, we’ll show how to set up notifications for bounces and complaints in Amazon SES, so you can stay on top of your email deliverability and maintain a positive sender reputation.

Understanding bounces and complaints:

Understanding bounces and complaints is crucial when it comes to email marketing. In simple terms, a bounce occurs when an email is undeliverable and is returned to the sender. There are two types of bounces: soft bounces and hard bounces. A soft bounce is a temporary issue, such as a full inbox or a server error, and the email may be delivered successfully on a subsequent attempt. A hard bounce, on the other hand, is a permanent issue, such as an invalid email address, and the email will never be delivered. On the other hand, a complaint occurs when a recipient marks an email as spam or unwanted. Complaints can be particularly damaging to your email deliverability and can lead to your emails being blocked or sent to the recipient’s spam folder. By monitoring bounces and complaints and taking appropriate action, you can maintain a positive sender reputation and ensure that your emails are delivered successfully to your intended recipients.

Amazon SES provides tools like Virtual Deliverability Manager (VDM) to manage the deliverability at the ISP, sub-domain or configuration set level. You can see the details in this blog.

Solution walkthrough:

This post gives detailed instructions on how to use Amazon Simple Notification Service SNS to monitor and receive notifications on bounces and complaints in Amazon SES. This blog also has FAQs and troubleshooting tips if you are not receiving notifications following the setup: (below are the steps with detailed instructions and screenshots)

Prerequisites:

For this walkthrough, you should have the following prerequisites:

  1. An active AWS account.
  2. A verified identity (Email address or Domain) in Amazon SES.
  3. Administrative Access to Amazon SES Console and Amazon SNS Console.

Step 1: Create an Amazon SNS topic and subscription:

      1. Sign in to the Amazon SNS console.
      2. Under Amazon SNS homepage provide a Topic name and click on Next steps:
      3. SNS topic image
      4. For Type, choose a topic type Standard.
        Note: Standard topics are better suited for use cases that require higher message publish and delivery throughput rates which fits the SES bounces and complaints monitoring.
      5. SNS standard queue
      6. (Optional) Expand the Encryption section if you would like to encrypt the SNS topic.
        • Choose Enable encryption.
        • Specify the AWS KMS key. For more information, see Key terms.
        • For each KMS type, the Description, Account, and KMS ARN are displayed.
      7. Encryption image
      8. Scroll to the end of the form and choose Create topic. The topic is created and the console opens the new topic’s Details page.
      9. To create the subscription on the Subscriptions page, choose Create subscription.
      10. SNS Subscription page
      11. On the Create subscription page, choose the Topic ARN that you created in the previous step.
      12. For Protocol, choose Email. There are multiple protocols available to use and it depends on where you would like to receive the SNS notifications for bounces and complaints. Please refer to list of available protocols.
      13. For Endpoint, enter an email address that can receive notifications.
        Note: this should be existing email address with accessible mailbox.
      14. SNS Subscription details
      15. Scroll to the bottom and click Create subscription. The console opens the new subscription’s Details page.
      16. After your subscription is created, you need to confirm it through the email address provided above.
      17. Check your email inbox you provided in the endpoint in previous step and and choose Confirm subscription in the email from AWS Notifications. The sender ID is usually “[email protected]“.
      18. AWS Notification email
      19. Amazon SNS opens your web browser and displays a subscription confirmation with your subscription ID.
      20. Subscription confirmation email
      21. After subscription is confirmed, refresh the subscription’s Details page and the subscription status will move from Pending to Confirmed.
      22. Subscription details
  • Step 2: Configure Amazon SES to send bounces and complaints to the Amazon SNS topic created:

In this step, I am presenting two methods to monitor your bounces and complaints. Follow Demo 1, if you are looking for a simple way to monitor bounces and complaints events for a specific email identity. Follow Demo 2, if you have many email identities and you want to monitor bounces and complaints along with other events using configuration sets “groups of rules that you can apply to all your verified identities”.

Demo 1: Configure Amazon SES to monitor bounces and complaints for specific email identity (Email, Domain):

The domain/sub-domain/email identity must have a Verified status. If the identity is not in verified status, refer to steps to verify identity with Amazon SES before continuing further.

Prior to starting this demo, it is important to know if you have a verified domain, subdomain, or an email address that shares the root domain. The identity settings (such as SNS and feedback notifications) apply at the most granular level you have set up the verification. Hierarchy is as below:

  • Verified email address identity settings override verified domain identity settings.
  • Verified subdomain identity settings override verified domain identity settings. (lower-level subdomain settings override higher-level subdomain settings).

Hence, if you want to monitor bounces and complaints for all email addresses under one domain, it is recommended to verify the domain identity with SES and apply this setting at the domain identity level. If you want to monitor bounces and complaints for specific email address under a verified domain identity, verify this email address explicitly with SES and apply this settings into the email identity level.

  1. Sign in to the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Verified identities.
  3. Verified email identities
  4. Select the verified identity in which you want to monitor for bounces and complaints notifications.
  5. In the details screen of the verified identity you selected, choose the Notifications tab and select Edit in the Feedback notifications container.
  6. Notifications
  7. Expand the SNS topic list box of bounce and complaint feedback type and select the SNS topic you created in Step 1.
    (Optional) If you want your topic notification to include the headers from the original email, check the Include original email headers box directly underneath the SNS topic name of each feedback type then click on save changes.
  8. SNS topics
  9. After configured SNS topic for bounces and complaints, you can disable Email Feedback Forwarding notifications to avoid receive double notifications through Email Feedback Forwarding and SNS notifications.
  10. To Disable it, under the Notifications tab on the details screen of the verified identity, in the Email Feedback Forwarding container, choose Edit, uncheck the Enabled box, and choose Save changes.
  11. Feedback forwarding disabled

Demo 2: Configure Amazon SES to monitor bounces and complaints for emails sent with a configuration set using Amazon SES event publishing.

Configuration sets in SES are groups of rules, that you can apply to your verified identities. When you apply a configuration set to an email, all of the rules in that configuration set are applied to the email. You can use different type of rules with a configuration set. This demo will use event destination, which will allow you to publish bounces and complaints to the SNS topic.

Note: You must pass the name of the configuration set when sending an email. This can be done by either specifying the configuration set name in the headers of emails, or specifying it as a default configuration set. This can be done at the time of identity creation, or later while editing a verified identity.

  1. Sign in to the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Configuration sets. Choose Create set.
  3. Configuration set image
  4. Enter Configuration set name, leave the rest of fields to default, scroll to the send and click on Create set.
  5. Create configuration set
  6. After Configuration set is created, you now need to create Amazon SES event destinations as shown below. Amazon SES sends all bounce and complaint notifications to event destination. In this blog the event destination is Amazon SNS topic.
  7. Navigate to the configuration set you created in step 3. Under configuration set home page click on Event destinations and select Add destination.
  8. Event destinations
  9. Under Select event types, check hard bounces and complaints boxes and click Next.
  10. Event types selection
  11. Specify destination for receiving bounce and complaints notifications, there’s couple of destinations types to choose from. in this demo, we will use Amazon SNS.
  12. Name – enter the name of the destination for this configuration set. The name can include letters, numbers, dashes, and hyphens.
  13. Event publishing – to turn on event publishing for this destination, select the Enabled check box.
  14. Under Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) topic , Expand the SNS topic list box and select the SNS topic you created in Step 1 and click Next.
  15. Use SES as destination
  16. Review, When you are satisfied that your entries are correct, choose Add destination to add your event destination.
  17. Once you choose Add destination , the summary of event destination will show a “Successfully validated SNS topic for Amazon SES event publishing” email.
  18. Successful notification

Step 3: Using Amazon SES Mailbox Simulator to test send and receive a bounce notification via SNS topic:

Test 1: Send a test email to test Demo 1 “Configure Amazon SES to monitor bounces and complaints for specific email identity (Email, Domain) ” in previous step

In this test, I will send a test message from my verified identity which configured to send any bounce and complaint notifications it receives to SNS topic and email address subscribed to the topic. I will use SES mailbox simulator to simulate a bounce message to test this setup.

  1. Sign in to the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Verified identities.
  3. Select the verified identity you configured SNS notifications for bounces and complaints in Demo 1. In this test, I selected a verified domain identity.
  4. Click on Send test email from the upper right corner.
  5. Sending test email
  6. Under send message details, in From-address enter the first part of email address under this verified domain (from-address could be pre-populated).
  7. For Scenario, Expand the simulated scenarios and select Bounce scenario to test send a bounce message.
  8. For Subject, enter the desired email subject. For Body, type an optional body text then leave the rest of options as a default. Click on Send test email to send the email.
  9. Message details
  10. You should have an email from AWS notifications with bounce notification and details on the bounce.
  11. Content of bounce message includes the notificationType “Bounce/Complaint”, bouncedRecipients, diagnosticCode “reason the message bounced”, remoteMtaIp “IP of the recipient MTA rejected the message”, SourceIp “IP of the sender application”, callerIdentity “IAM user sending this message”. These details can help in identifying the reason behind why email is not delivered and bounced and will help you avoid such bounces in the future. Refer this document for additional content on bounce events.
  12. AWS notification message

Test 2: Send a test email to test Demo 2 “Configure Amazon SES to monitor bounces and complaints for emails sent with a configuration set using Amazon SES event publishing” in previous step

In this test, you can send a test message from any verified identity and by using the configuration set created in Step 2 which is configured to send any bounce and complaint notifications to SNS topic and email address subscribed to the topic. You can use SES mailbox simulator to simulate a bounce message to test this setup.

  1. Sign in to the Amazon SES console.
  2. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Verified identities.
  3. Select any verified identity you want to send emails from. In this test, I selected a verified domain identity.
  4. Click on Send test email from the upper right corner.
  5. Under send message details From-address enter the first part of email address under this verified domain.
  6. For Scenario, Expand the simulated scenarios and select Bounce scenario to test send a bounce message.
  7. For Subject, enter the desired email subject. For Body, type an optional body text.
  8. For Configuration set, Expand the drop-down list and choose the configuration set you created in Demo 2.
  9. Click on Send test email to send the email.
  10. Message details
  11. You will find an email from AWS notifications with bounce notification and all details of the bounce.
  12. Content of bounce message includes the EventType “Bounce/Complaint”, bouncedRecipients, diagnosticCode “reason the message bounced” , remoteMTA “IP of the recipient MTA rejected the message”, SourceIp “IP of the sender application”, callerIdentity “IAM user sending this message”, ses:configuration-set “name of the configuration set you use when sending the email” all of this details can help you to identify the reason behind why email is not delivered and bounced and will help you to avoid such bounces in the future. Refer this document for more details on contents of bounce events.
  13. SES notification email

FAQ on this set up:

I configured SNS topic with KMS encryption and I am not receiving bounce or complain notifications for emails:
If your Amazon SNS topic uses AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) for server-side encryption, you have to add permissions to the AWS KMS key policy to allow SES service access the KMS key, an example policy can be found here.

I followed Demo 2. However, when I try to send emails from any verified identity, I don’t receive bounce or complain notifications for emails:
When sending the email, make sure to select the configuration set you configured for bounce and complaints notification. If you followed demo 2 and you sent the email without explicitly using the configuration set in email headers, you will lose tracking for bounce and complaints events.

I am testing the setup. After I sent an email to the bounce simulator, I am not receiving don’t receive any bounce notification emails:
Check the SNS topic subscription if its in pending status and make sure you confirm the topic subscription via subscription email sent to you. If the topic subscription is confirmed, make sure you have access to the inbox of subscription email address and you are not applying any email filters.

Cleaning up:

You should have now successfully setup SNS notifications to monitor bounce and complaints for you Amazon SES emails. To avoid incurring any extra charges, remember to delete any resources created manually if you no longer need them for monitoring.

Resources to delete from SES console:

  1. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose the verified identity you configured for SNS notifications.
  2. In the details screen of the verified identity you selected, choose the Notifications tab and select Edit in the Feedback notifications container.
  3. Choose No SNS topic from bounce and complaint feedback dropdown menu and click Save changes.
  4. Under the same Notifications tab on the details screen of the verified identity, in the Email Feedback Forwarding container, choose Edit, check the Enabled box, and choose Save changes.
  5. In the navigation pane, under Configuration, choose Configuration sets.
  6. Check the box beside Configuration set you created and select Delete.

Resources to delete from SNS console:

  1. In the navigation pane, from the left side menu, choose Topics.
  2. Check the radio button beside the SNS topic you created and select Delete.
  3. Confirm the topic deletion by writing “delete me”.

Conclusion:

Monitoring bounces and complaints is an essential part of maintaining a successful email sending system, using Amazon SES. By setting up SNS notifications for bounces and complaints, you can quickly identify any issues and take appropriate action to ensure that your emails are delivered successfully to your subscribers. By proactively managing your email deliverability, you can maintain a positive sender reputation and avoid any negative impact on your email marketing efforts.

About the authors:

 Alaa Hammad

Alaa Hammad is a Senior Cloud Support Engineer at AWS and subject matter expert in Amazon Simple Email Service and AWS Backup service. She has a 10 years of diverse experience in supporting enterprise customers across different industries. She enjoys cooking and try new recipes from different cuisines.

 Vinay Ujjini 

Vinay Ujjini is an Amazon Pinpoint and Amazon Simple Email Service Worldwide Principal Specialist Solutions Architect at AWS. He has been solving customer’s omni-channel challenges for over 15 years. He is an avid sports enthusiast and in his spare time, enjoys playing tennis & cricket.

A Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Email Database

Post Syndicated from nnatri original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/messaging-and-targeting/guide-to-maintaining-healthy-email-database/

Introduction

In the digital age, email remains a powerful tool for businesses to communicate with their customers. Whether it’s for marketing campaigns, customer service updates, or important announcements, a well-maintained email database is crucial for ensuring that your messages reach their intended recipients. However, managing an email database is not just about storing email addresses. It involves keeping the database healthy, which means it’s up-to-date, accurate, and filled with engaged subscribers.

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) offers robust features that help businesses manage their email environments effectively. Trusted by customers such as Amazon.com, Netflix, Duolingo and Reddit, SES helps customers deliver high-volume email campaigns of hundreds of billions of emails per year. Introduced in 2020, the list and subscription management feature of Amazon SES has added a new dimension to email database management, thereby reducing effort and time-to-value of managing a subscription list by allowing you to manage your list of contacts via its REST API, SDK or AWS CLI.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of email database management in Amazon SES. You will explore two ways to manage your email database: building out your own email database functionality and using the built-in list and subscription management service. You will also learn the pros and cons of each approach and provide examples of customer use cases that would benefit from each approach. Regardless of the approach you ultimately decide to take, the blog will also share updated strategies for email database management to help with improving deliverability and customer engagement.

This guide is designed to help you navigate the complexities of email database management and make informed decisions that best suit your business needs. So, whether you’re new to Amazon SES or looking to optimize your existing email database management practices, this guide is for you. Let’s get started!

Email Database Management in Amazon SES

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) offers two primary ways to manage your email database: building out your own email database functionality and using the built-in list and subscription management service. Each approach has its own set of advantages and potential drawbacks, and the best choice depends on your specific use case and business needs.

Building Out Your Email Database Functionality

When you choose to build out your own email database functionality, you have the flexibility to customize the database to suit your specific needs and leverage SES’ scalability as an email channel to send email at high volumes to your customer. Depending on the business requirement, the customizations could involve creating custom fields for subscriber data, implementing complex logic for categorizing and segmenting users, or integrating with other systems in your tech stack.

Using the Built-in List and Subscription Management Service

Alternatively, you can look at Amazon SES’s built-in list and subscription management service, which offers a ready-made solution for managing your email database. It handles tasks such as managing subscriptions to different topics and maintaining your customer email database through contact lists. Additionally, you can insert up to two links per email to the subscription preference page, which allow users to manage their topic preferences within Amazon SES.

SubscriptionPage

The non-configurable subscription page will automatically populate the customer’s current subscribed topic and allow setting of granular topic’s preferences. More information on how to configure that can be found here.

The following table should serve as a guideline to help you with deciding your approach for Email Database Management.
Building Your Own Email Database Functionality Using Built-in List and Subscription Management Service
Pros

Customization: Full control over the database structure and functionality, allowing for tailoring to specific needs. This includes creating custom fields for subscriber data, implementing own algorithms for handling bounces and complaints, and integrating with other systems in the tech stack.

Integration: Flexible flow of data across the business due to the ability to integrate the email database with other systems in the tech stack. You’ve already built your own email database or have one in mind which supports querying, building that database external to Amazon SES would make for a more customizable implementation.

Data Ownership: When you manage your own database, you have full ownership and control over your data. This can be important for businesses with strict data governance or regulatory requirements.

Ease of Use: The built-in service provides readily-available API to create, update and delete contacts. These operations are also available via REST API, AWS CLI and SDK. Once you’ve set up the subscription topics and contact lists, you can leverage the preference center to allow your customers to easily sub/unsubscribe from different topics.

Cost-Effective: More cost-effective than building own functionality as it requires less time and resources. The built-in service is also available free of charge unlike building out own infrastructure which would require ongoing infrastructure service costs.

Cons

Time and Resources: Building your own email database functionality requires a significant investment of time and resources. This includes the initial setup of the database, designing the schema, setting up the servers, and configuring the database software. Additionally, you’ll need to develop the functionality for managing subscriptions, and database cleanup in upon receiving bounces and complaints. Databases require ongoing maintenance to ensure they remain operational and efficient. This includes tasks like updating the database software, managing backups, optimizing queries, and scaling the database as your subscriber base grows.

Complexity: As your subscriber base grows, managing your own email database can become increasingly complex. You’ll need to handle more data, which can slow down queries and make the database more difficult to manage. You’ll also need to deal with more complex issues like data integrity, redundancy, and normalization. Additionally, as you add more features to your email database functionality, the codebase can become more complex, making it harder to maintain and debug.

Security: When you manage your own email database, you’re responsible for its security. This includes protecting the data from unauthorized access, ensuring the confidentiality of your subscribers’ information, and complying with data protection regulations. You’ll need to implement security measures like encryption, access controls, and regular security audits. If your database is compromised, it could lead to data loss or a breach of your subscribers’ privacy, which could damage your reputation and potentially lead to legal consequences.

Limited Customization: The built-in service may not offer the same level of customization as building own functionality. It may not meet all needs if there are specific requirements. For example, the preference center management page cannot be customized.

Dependence: Using the built-in service means you’re reliant on Amazon SES for your email database management. If the service experiences downtime or issues, it could impact your ability to manage your email database. This could potentially disrupt your email campaigns and affect your relationship with your subscribers. Furthermore, if you decide to switch to a different email service provider in the future, migrating your email database from the built-in service could be a complex and time-consuming process. Additionally, if your email database needs to be accessed or manipulated by other systems in your tech stack, this dependency on Amazon SES could complicate the integration process and limit your flexibility.

Customer Use Cases Best suited for businesses with specific needs that aren’t met by standard list management services, or those who wish to integrate their email database with other systems. For example, a large e-commerce company might choose to build out their own email database functionality to integrate with their customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory systems. Ideal for small to medium-sized businesses that need a straightforward, cost-effective solution for managing their email database. It’s also a good fit for businesses without the resources or technical expertise to build their own email database functionality.

Strategies for Email Database Management with Amazon Simple Email Service

Once you’ve made the decision on whether to manage your email database within Amazon SES or build your own, that’s only half of the equation. It’s important to recognize that your email databases will only work best to serve the business needs when you have processes in place to maintain them. In this section, let’s go through some of the best practices on how to do so.

  • Maintaining email list hygiene:
    • Both Amazon SES and a custom-built email database require maintaining a healthy email list. This involves regularly cleaning your list to remove invalid email addresses, hard bounces, and unengaged subscribers. With Amazon SES, the process to handle hard bounces and complaints is automated.
    • With a custom-built email database, you have more control over how and when this cleaning occurs. Rather than focusing on only email addresses that either hard bounces or complained, you can remove unengaged users. Every business will have their own definition of an un-engaged users based on business needs. Regardless, you will need to store the engagement attribute (e.g. days since last interaction). This will be simpler to architect in an external database which supports querying and bulk modification.
  • Managing Subscriptions:
    • With Amazon SES, you can easily manage subscriptions using the built-in functionality. This includes adding new subscribers, removing unsubscribed users, and updating user topic preferences. However, you will not be able to customize the look-and-feel of your subscription preference pages.
    • If you build your own email database, you’ll need to create your own system for managing subscriptions, which could require significant time and resources. The trade-off is that you can fully customize your subscription management system to showcase your branding on the subscription preference page and also handle custom logic for subscription/unsubscription.
  • Encouraging Engagement: Low engagement rates can indicate that your recipients are not interested in your content. To stimulate action, you can include a survey in the email, ask for feedback, or run a giveaway. You can then filter out inactive subscribers who still aren’t interacting with your emails. For engaged subscribers, you can segment these audiences into sub-groups by preference and send tailored email marketing campaigns. Before removing less active subscribers, consider what other kinds of content you could provide that might be more appealing. Unengaged subscribers can sometimes be re-engaged with the right offer, such as a free gift, a special perk, or exclusive content.
  • Renewing Opt-In: For your disengaged subscribers, send a re-optin campaign and remove them if they don’t re-subscribe. Be transparent! Notify inactive subscribers that you’ve noticed their lack of engagement and let them know that you don’t want to clutter their inbox if they’re not interested. Ask them if they want to continue to receive emails with a clear call-to-action button that will re-sign them up for future emails.
  • Making It Easy to Unsubscribe: Including an easy-to-find unsubscribe button and a one-step opt-out process won’t encourage subscribers to leave if you’re giving them a reason to stay. If recipients feel like they can’t leave, they’ll just mark your emails as spam, which counts as a big strike against your sender reputation.

Remember, effective email database management is a continuous process that requires regular attention and maintenance. By following these best practices, you can maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts and build strong relationships with your subscribers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, maintaining a healthy email database is a critical aspect of successful email marketing. Whether you choose to build out your own email database functionality or use Amazon SES’s built-in list and subscription management service, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each approach and align your decision with your business needs.

Building your own email database functionality offers the advantage of customization and integration with other systems in your tech stack. However, it requires significant time, resources, and technical expertise. On the other hand, Amazon SES’s built-in service is easy to use, cost-effective, and handles many complexities of email database management, but it may not offer the same level of customization.

Regardless of the approach you choose, following best practices for email database management is essential. This includes handling bounces and complaints, managing subscriptions, encouraging engagement, sending re-engagement email campaigns, renewing opt-ins, and making it easy to unsubscribe.

These practices will help you maintain a healthy email list, improve engagement rates, and ultimately, enhance the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.It’s important to stay updated with the latest trends and strategies in email database management. So, keep exploring, learning, and implementing the best practices that suit your business needs.

For more information on Amazon SES and its features, visit the Amazon SES Documentation. Here, you’ll find comprehensive guides, tutorials, and API references to help you make the most of Amazon SES.