Recently, we’ve had a few customers ask about using WordPress to send emails and whether that works well on WP Engine’s managed WordPress platform.  It’s a good question, and there are a number of plugins on the market that make it very easy to use WordPress as your tool for sending emails.  Despite that, we do not allow customers to use our platform to send emails.

WP Engine provides a premium hosting platform to build world-class WordPress sites and applications, and we focus our energy and our infrastructure on providing a premium hosting platform for WordPress. When our customers want to send emails, we want them to have the same best-in-class service for that as well, and we recommend using 3rd party services like MailChimp or Constant Contact. To that end, we’ve also disallowed plugins that allow you to send email blasts with WordPress. [NB, just because a mailing plugin is on this list, just means we don’t allow it our customers to use it. We are not commenting on the quality of the code, and we are big supporters of plugin developers.

There are 3 major reasons WP Engine does not allow emails to be sent as part of our hosting platform:

  1. Email blasts are a sensitive business, and there is always the chance that the recipients of an email will flag the email as spam, which will reflect back on IP addresses. We take every precaution to keep our IP address squeaky clean. Emails generated via WordPress are sent from our IP infrastructure, so if those IP addresses ever get blacklisted for spam, it might adversely affect a large number of customers. That’s not good.
  2. When you send an email blast, you also want to ensure deliverability. Companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact, spend a great deal of time and resources ensuring deliverability for emails sent via their IP addresses. Managing their IP addresses to make sure emails reach their destination is a key part of their business, just like managing the scalability of your high traffic WordPress sites is part of ours.
  3. On a standard server, WordPress emails are generated for lost passwords and comment notifications, etc by a command line service. The service generating these emails is somewhat generic and doesn’t usually allow a SysAdmin to manage and ensure deliverability.  Rather than generating and sending system emails on the server itself with that basic software, we use a premium 3rd party managed SMTP provider. This ensures a high level of deliverability and consistency, even for WordPress system emails. Those little details make a big difference for the sites you choose to host with us.

WordPress is an amazing and versatile tool, and there’s almost no limit to the things you can build with it. However, just because you can send emails with WordPress, that doesn’t always mean you should. In a best practice environment, there are specialized services like MailChimp, and Constant Contact (+ others) that are a complete email solution for your business, and will provide you with the optimal results. If your email service provides its own SMTP server, then things will work out just fine.

While it is possible that WP Engine could add email to our services and possibly create another tier of service that we could charge for, we’re choosing to refer that business to other providers that will ensure the best results for our customers. We’d simply rather focus on being the premium platform for you to build awesome sites with WordPress.

Nerd alert:

It wouldn’t be a WP Engine blog post if we didn’t include the gory technical details about how to set up your own email service. Since we know that many developers we work with may want to explore setting up their own email servers, we want to give you a bit of nerd candy.

If you’d like to set up your own SMTP service like Mailchimp, here’s a detailed checklist they’ve written that details all the things that need to be set up first. You can learn a ton about building a best-practice SMTP server by imitating a provider like MailChimp. The following link includes all the things you need to have up and running when you send email blasts.

If you set something like this up, let us know. We’d love to hear about your results!

For the most updated information regarding email on WP Engine, see Using a 3rd Party Provider to Send Email from WordPress.