The limits of Hotmail's SMTP servers

Why Hotmail’s SMTP Servers Aren’t for You

We know that Gmail’s SMTP server isn’t a great choice for email marketers. Its limit of 500 readers, its willingness to close accounts for a day that breach that limit, and its display of a free email system used by businesses all make it unreliable, clunky and unprofessional.

Hotmail is even worse.

Again, you can try it. The setup is relatively straightforward. The server address is smtp.live.com, the port number is 587, and TLS/SSL is required. You’ll need your Hotmail password and email address, of course.

But that’s where the simplicity ends.

The first problem is that, like Google, Microsoft (Hotmail’s owner) places strict limits on the number of recipients to which an email can be sent. Try to break that limit and you’ll receive a message like this:

"To help reduce junk, Hotmail limits how many people you can send a message to at one time.  To send your message, please remove some recipients.”

You might then be told to verify your account or invited to learn more. Unlike Google though, Microsoft doesn’t reveal the number of those recipients. It doesn’t tell you how many to remove. Instead, Hotmail changes the limit according to your “reputation” on the service. Verifying your account through SMS will help to build that reputation and, not surprisingly, so will paying. Subscribe to Hotmail Plus, which costs $19.95 per year, and you’ll be able to send to a longer list.

Even then though, that list is still going to be pretty short. Reports have placed the total number of permissible messages sent in a day from a free account at 250 (with a maximum number of recipients as low as 50). A paid Plus account might double the number of recipients. While it might be possible to write to Hotmail and ask them to lift those limits, do you really want to rely on Microsoft’s good nature (and its continued favor) to make use of your email list?

That super-low limit alone is a good reason to steer straight past Hotmail’s SMTP server but even if you’re willing to send your message in tiny clusters, you’ll still have to cope with the loss of branding power that happens when recipients can see that you’re using Hotmail.

That’s not obvious. The service no longer pushes its own advertising into the footer as it used to do. But anyone who looks at the encoding will see that the sender is “hotmail_[number_string]@live.com.”

The fact that recipients have to look for it does go some way towards alleviating that unprofessional look but the effect of having seen it is particularly strong. Hotmail has such a poor reputation among Internet users — something like MySpace in the age of Facebook and Twitter — that few people will understand why a company would still use it. While Gmail just makes a business look cheap, Hotmail makes a business look out of touch.

Turning away from Gmail’s SMTP server is understandable. Turning to Hotmail as a replacement isn’t. The best option is still a professional, specialist SMTP service.

turboSMTP is a reliable, powerful, easy-to-use delivery service that maximizes deliverability of all your marketing and transactional emails.

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