360Works CloudMail is a plug-in for sending outbound e-mail messages and monitoring e-mail interactions using Amazon Web Services.
Sending: CloudMail offloads the actual e-mail sending to a virtual machine set up in your Amazon Web Services (AWS) account. It queues the e-mail contents and distribution list(s) almost instantly, leaving your computer free for other tasks. The virtual machine then starts processing all of the actual e-mails. It removes duplicate addresses, removes anybody that has requested an unsubscribe, and then starts sending them via Amazon's Simple Email Services (SES) at whatever sending rate your AWS account is set up for (10 per second by default, but expandable to hundreds per second upon request).
Monitoring: CloudMail automatically takes care of unsubscribes. It also embeds tracking codes into the e-mail message that will allow your FileMaker database to see how many people viewed your message, and how many clicked a link in the message. Whenever you want, you can run a script to download activity related to your e-mail campaign. This will import the follow activity types into your FileMaker file:
You can run this script as often as you like, and you can also schedule it to run at regular intervals using FileMaker Server. Every time the script runs, it will only download new activity since the last time it was run.
360Works CloudMail can run on any computer running FileMaker Pro 11 or later, or FileMaker Server 11 or later.
There are two components of pricing for CloudMail: The cost of the plug-in itself, and the cost for Amazon Web Services.
The plug-in cost is $395 US.
Amazon's charges can vary over time (usually gradually decreasing). In addition, there is special introductory pricing for the first year after you open a new AWS account. At the time this document was written, in April 2015, the pricing is as follows:
|First year||Following years|
|Up to 62,000 emails per month||$0||$1 per 10,000|
|Emails beyond 62,000 per month||$1 per 10,000|
|Virtual machine hosting per month||$0||$9.50|
|Outbound messages per gigabyte||$0 for first gigabyte, $0.09 beyond that|
|Example pricing for 20 kilobyte messages|
|1,000 per month||$0||$9.60|
|10,000 per month||$0||$10.50|
|62,000 per month||$0||$15.70|
|100,000 per month||$3.89||$19.59|
|1,000,000 per month||$95.51||$105.01|
Before you can start using CloudMail, you will need to sign up for a free Amazon Web Services account from http://aws.amazon.com. Click the yellow button titled 'Sign In to the Console' to get started.
You should have received an Amazon access key and secret key when you set up your account. If you don't have those credentials, you can issue new ones by following this process in the AWS console:
- Click your user name at the top right corner of the page and select 'Security credentials'
- Expand the 'access keys' section and click the blue 'Create new access key' button
Although it's not necessary, you may feel more comfortable running CloudMail as a separate (non-root) user. If you decide to do this, be sure to add the 'AdministratorAccess' policy for CloudMail so that it's able to do all the setup steps that it needs.
Once you have an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account, you're ready to start using 360Works CloudMail. Start by opening the CloudMail.fmp12 file. Enter your AWS credentials, create a new campaign, and set your e-mail address as the 'from' address. Add a single recipient to the campaign. For the first test, it's important for your single recipient to be the same as your from address. You'll see why soon.
After you've created the campaign, go ahead and send it. You'll receive an error message that you're not a validated sender. This is normal! Follow the instructions to validate your e-mail address, and then try sending the campaign again. This time it should go through to you. Open the e-mail, and try click at least one of the links in the e-mail. If you have automatic image loading disabled in your mail software, go ahead and load the images (that's necessary for view tracking to work).
Go back to the demo file and download the results of your campaign. You should see one delivery notification, at least one view, and at least one click. Congratulations, you just finished the quick start process!
Moving to production
There are a few required and optional steps before sending your e-mail campaign to thousands of recipients.
- When you set up a new AWS account, your e-mail sending is limited to 'sandbox' mode. In sandbox mode, your maximum sending rate is just 1 message per second, your maximum daily messages is limited to 200, and you can only send to verified recipients. Verifying a recipient is what you did when clicked the Amazon e-mail in your inbox to be able to send the quick start campaign. To send to additional recipients besides yourself, you can either 1) verify additional recipients using the Amazon Web Services SES console, or 2) request that your account be switched to production mode. [Need more details here]
- Once your AWS account is put into production mode, your daily limits will be substantially increased. You can see these limits in the SES dashboard in the AWS Web Console. However, if you send large email campaigns, it may still not be enough. You can submit additional requests via the AWS web console to request higher limits, both in terms of maximum messages per second and maximum messages per day.
- It is highly recommended that you follow the process for domain verification in the AWS web console. This involves setting up DKIM records, which make it much less likely for your outgoing messages to be marked as spam by the recipients. DKIM allows Amazon to send e-mail through its own servers while having the receiving e-mail servers treat the message as if it arrived from your own company's email server.
- You can get the public IP address of your virtual machine by going to the Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) section of the AWS Web Console. If you like, you can then create a record in your DNS server, such as 'cloudmail.mydomain.com' pointing to that IP address. You can then configure this DNS name in the CloudMail.fmp12 file, and that will cause all links in your outbound e-mails to point to this name instead of a default Amazon DNS name.