The Limits of Gmail’s SMTP Servers

The Limits of Gmail’s SMTP Servers

Sending your email newsletters through Gmail should be easy. Google’s free email service can function as your SMTP client: add the SMTP details to Sendblaster by using as the “outgoing (SMTP) server,” check “use authentication,” and choose 587 and 465 as the ports for TLS/STARTLS and SSL respectively. It takes a few seconds and you should then be able to send your newsletters and marketing emails to your list with the same ease with which you write to friends.

But don’t try it because it won’t work. Worse, it might actually result in Google closing your Gmail account for 24 hours every time you do send a marketing blast.

That’s because Google places all sorts of limits on the use of its SMTP service by marketers. Those limits begin with a restriction on the number of recipients who can receive the same message. If Gmail’s SMTP server detects that your message is going to more than 500 people, it disables your account.

So Gmail should still work for new lists of less than 500 subscribers, or if you’re segmenting your list into chunks of no more than 500 — or if you want to test a subject line or content by sending two different messages to fewer than 500 subscribers each to see which message delivers the best conversions.

Sadly, that’s still no. Google also disables accounts which sends “a large number” of undeliverable messages. It doesn’t define that number but every subscription list always picks up some garbage addresses that people have entered to see what happens or to download the bonus on offer without having to supply a real address.

Even if you only have a list of 500 subscribers, you still run the risk that Google will send you away from your emails for a day if it decides that too many people didn’t receive your message.

But if you have an email list that’s no more than 500 subscribers long and made up of addresses you know are accurate, surely then you can use Gmail’s SMTP server to send your marketing messages.

In those circumstances, you could. But you shouldn’t. When the email reaches your subscriber, it’s going to come with all sorts of encoding in the header, including information that reveals you’re sending it through Gmail. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t leave a great impression.

Readers will wonder why you’re using a free service — with all of the limitations that suggests — instead of paying the small amounts needed for your own server. They’ll wonder what sort of company doesn’t have those funds, and they’ll wonder whether they should trust the company if so few other people have.

Gmail’s limits might be irritating but they are understandable. Google doesn’t want to be an enabler for spammers sending their messages to millions and they don’t want their SMTP servers being overwhelmed by bulk messaging. The reluctance of buyers to purchase from a company that prefers unreliable and free to reliable and economic is understandable too.

And the solution is simple enough. A professional SMTP server isn’t expensive. It’s reliable, unlimited and easy to configure. We recommend it.

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