Most WordPress hosts, including Kinsta, allow for some basic outbound email sending via their own servers. This is great for a few emails here and there (such as password resets) and to get you up and running with your site. However, there are a lot of new third-party plugins popping up that are now turning WordPress into a full-blown email marketing solution, sending out thousands of emails on a regular basis. And while there is nothing wrong the plugins themselves, it’s the configuration of how the plugins send emails that is often overlooked. Not setting these up correctly can, in fact, harm your campaigns performance and even the ability to hit your customer’s inboxes.

Typically a hosting server is not also meant to be an email server. So if you are sending newsletters or bulk emails, we always recommend the following alternatives to get the best results:

We’ll dive into the reasons why below and share our email marketing software recommendations.

Downfalls of Using Your Host’s Email Server

Email plays a very important role in your workflow, as it is the primary medium used to keep you and your customer’s informed on what is happening with your site and business. So it’s very important that you have a system in place that you can count on! Here are a just a few examples of emails that a site might send out on a daily basis:

If you think about it, that’s a lot going on! Especially on larger sites, as emails could be getting sent out every couple seconds. If you don’t use a professional email marketing software or transactional email service provider, you are bound to run into the following issues which can really harm the success of your site and campaigns:

1. You’re Not Always in a Silo

A good way to think of how email works with typical WordPress hosts is that it’s like shared hosting. You are tied to IP addresses that your host has configured for outgoing email. If something goes wrong with that, such as a client suddenly spamming, there is a chance the IP address could get blacklisted for spam. Then you’re suddenly left at the mercy of waiting for your host to resolve the issue with the provider or ISP. This could result in spotty delivery and wait times for your emails, which is never a good thing.

shared hosting

When it comes to WordPress hosting you don’t have to worry here at Kinsta, as every site on our platform runs in an isolated software container that contains all of the software resources required to run the site (Linux, NGINX, PHP, MySQL). This means that the software that runs each site is 100% private and is not shared, even between your own sites. And for important emails such as password resets, and comment notifications, we rely on a third-party SMTP provider to ensure high deliverability. But for marketing-related emails and bulk sending, we highly recommend using a trusted third-party solution.

2. Email Deliverability Issues

One of the biggest downfalls to relying on your WordPress host for emails is deliverability issues. According to ReturnPath’s Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, 21% of opt-in emails never make it to the inbox. Hitting your customer’s inbox relies on a multitude of factors, from ISPs, bounce rates, MTAs, the originating IP address of the sender, etc. Third-party email marketing software platforms and transactional email services are set up and configured in such a way that they can greatly increase your odds of hitting your customer’s inbox. They also have entire teams working day and night to ensure their emails reach their destinations and that their IPs aren’t blacklisted.

email deliverability

Here are a couple additional examples of things they do:

3. Not Always Possible to Setup Email Authentication (DMARC)

Email authentication also referred to as domain authentication or validation (DMARC), refers to the process of better identifying the sending origin or domain so that ISPs can better route your email. This is a great technique to help prevent spoofing and phishing scams in case the email message appears to be from one domain, but it actually delivered from another. In other words, email authentication allows your email marketing tool to send email on your behalf, but as your domain. This isn’t required, but always recommended!

email authentication

Authenticating your domain requires that you add a record to your DNS. The issue is that if you rely on your WordPress host for email, they aren’t typically able to add this because they don’t have control over your DNS. How much can email authentication impact you? Well, we had a client move DNS providers and their newsletter was then immediately going to the spam folder for almost a month before anyone realized it. This was due to missing authentication records. By going straight to spam their open rate decreased by 4.79% from the previous month and their click rate decreased by 1.56%. That is why you don’t want to end up in the spam folder and why email authentication is important.

Spam folder

Spam folder

Check out our in-depth tutorial on how to authenticate your domain for emails.

4. You Can Run Into Server Resource Issues

And the last thing to keep in mind when it comes to sending emails via your WordPress host is that you could run into server resources issues. With some hosts, especially shared hosts, this could even get you suspended. This is because even little things like sending emails require server resources. This especially becomes a problem with those trying to send bulk emails. This is the reason why third-party transactional email providers exist and why a lot hosts simply block email delivery on standard ports altogether.

Email Marketing Software Recommendations

Below are some email marketing software tools we recommend. These types of tools are typically used for the following types of emails:

A lot of times a plugin is used to build your list and collect the emails, and then the emails are configured and sent out from within the third-party tool. For example, we use the Bloom Email Opt-In plugin on this blog (as seen below) to collect emails and it automatically sends the emails to our MailChimp list. Another common example is a newsletter widget on your blog’s sidebar or at the bottom of a post.

Kinsta newsletter subscription box

Kinsta newsletter subscription box

1. MailChimp

MailChimp is used by over 12 million businesses and individuals to send emails to and newsletters. As they say, “The money is in the list.” Building and maintaining a high-quality email list can be a great way for a company to generate more sales and keep their current customers informed. MailChimp makes this process silly easy and has been perfecting their software for many years.

MailChimp email marketing software

MailChimp email marketing software

We use MailChimp here at Kinsta and we’re on a paid plan, but they have a free plan which allows you up to 2,000 subscribers. We are creating a lot of content that we know you will love and so MailChimp is a great way to allow us to share it with you each week. For startups, MailChimp’s free plan get be a great solution to get up and going while you start to build your email list. A few features we really like in MailChimp include:

2. MailerLite

MailerLite is another great email marketing software tool we recommend checking out. We often run across people that have never heard of them, but they are currently used by over 300,000 businesses, start-ups, and freelancers around the world.  Offering very similar features to MailChimp, MailerLite has been around since 2010. Their philosophy is an easy one, “keep it simple and build what customers love.”

MailerLite email marketing software

MailerLite email marketing software

If you are just starting out with email marketing, a few advantages that MailerLite has over MailChimp is that you get access to all of their tools in their free plan up to 1,000 subscribers per month. MailChimp restricts you from using a lot of their advanced tools in their free plan. They are also a lot cheaper. An email list with 2,500 subscribers in MailChimp would cost you $30 a month verses while only $10 a month with MailerLite.

A few features we really like in MailerLite include:

3. SendPulse

SendPulse is another option you might want to look at as they provide more than just email marketing software, but also push notifications, SMS, and even transactional emails. They pretty much do it all and offer a very affordable price compared to some of the other competitors on the market.

SendPulse email marketing software

SendPulse email marketing software

If you have less than 2500 subscribers, you can send up to 15000 emails per month for free. A few features we really like in SendPulse include:

Additional Email Marketing Software Tools

Here are a few additional email marketing software tools you might want to consider:

Budget Email Marketing Software Tools

If you’re on a tight budget, here are a few providers that have cheap plans you can grow with:

In case if you need more details about these services please take a look at this in-depth comparison of the best email marketing software put together by the experts at EmailToolTester.

4. HubSpot

With HubSpot’s free plugin you can easily create beautiful, responsive email newsletters and nurture your leads with marketing automation campaigns.

Thanks to a drag-and-drop email builder, you can create your unique email design and structure. If you don’t want to build your email from scratch, you can simply choose from one of the 20+ pre-designed templates in HubSpot’s library.

You can easily personalize your emails based on contact details or different website activities. To customize your email content (subject lines, content, calls-to-action, etc.) you can use an email subscriber’s lifecycle stage, list membership, or any information in your contact records. You can also send an automated email anytime someone fills out a form or engages with your live chat/chatbots.

All emails are automatically logged in your free-forever CRM (unlimited contacts) and include reporting for opens and clicks so you can measure each email’s engagement.

HubSpot WordPress Plugin

HubSpot WordPress Plugin

A few email marketing features from HubSpot WordPress plugin that we really like are:

Transactional Email Service Recommendations (SMTP)

Below are some transactional email service providers we recommend. Transactional emails typically are those that are triggered by an action. Here are some common examples:

Struggling with downtime and WordPress problems? Kinsta is the hosting solution designed to save you time! Check out our features

However, transactional email services can also be used along with third-party plugins that enable you to send newsletters from your WordPress site. The Newsletter Plugin and Mailster (as seen below) are just a couple plugins that turn your WordPress dashboard and site into fully functional newsletter reporting and automation tool.

Mailster newsletter dashboard in WordPress

Mailster newsletter dashboard in WordPress

1. SendGrid

SendGrid has been around since 2009 and is probably one of the most well-known brands when it comes to providing transactional email services. Some of their clients include Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, and Yelp. It is perfect for startups, high volume senders, agencies, and e-commerce.

SendGrid transactional email service

SendGrid transactional email service

SendGrid is probably one of the more complicated solutions to setup and configure, but this is because it is very robust! It is definitely an enterprise-grade solution. With that being said, it can also be very cost effective. You can send up to 40,000 emails per month for as little as $9.95. A few additional benefits of SendGrid include:

2. Mailgun

Mailgun is a transactional email API service designed primarily for developers. However, even non-developers can easily implement their service. For new users, Mailgun offers a free trial, which lets you send 5,000 emails per month for three months. After the free trial is over, you can select between various plans including a flexible “pay as you go” plan, which costs $0.80 per 1,000 emails.

Mailgun transactional email service

Mailgun transactional email service

A few additional benefits of Mailgun include:

Check out our in-depth tutorial on how to configure Mailgun in WordPress.

3. SparkPost

SparkPost has been around since 2014 and is designed for developers and enterprises. They focus primarily on app-generated and transactional emails. Some of their clients include Zillow, PayPal, Pinterest, Groupon, Twitter, Intercom, and Oracle.

SparkPost transactional email service

SparkPost transactional email service

SparkPost offers a very affordable rate at only $9 a month to send up to 50,000 emails. They even have a free developer account (with no time limit) which allows you to send up to 15,000 emails per month. A few additional benefits of SparkPost include:

Additional Transactional Email Service Providers

Here are a few additional providers you might want to consider:

Recommended tutorials:


There can be a lot of benefits from not relying on your WordPress host for email. Whenever a client asks us whether or not they should utilize one of the providers mentioned above, the answer is always yes! You’ll see better results from your campaigns and hit more customer’s inboxes. We’ve chosen to focus on providing a premium hosting platform, and for us, that means making sure your site is scalable, fast, and secure! We’ll do what we do best, and leave email to the experts.

Are you looking for more email marketing tips? Take a look at our next posts:

Have you used any of the providers above? If so, we would love to hear which one you prefer and why. Let us know below in the comments.

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