The True Costs of Running a Self-Hosted Email Autoresponder Server

Today I read a great question regarding self-hosted email autoresponder servers. Here’s the question: “I have searched and have not found much information on ARP Reach. I am really interested in trying it out but I would like to hear from others using this service, if it’s worth the cost compared to Aweber, GetResponse, Mailchimp etc. I would also like to know if there are any other costs involved besides the one-time fee you pay for the software. I would appreciate the feedback, thanks!”

This is a topic I know a lot about. I once managed the email operations for a Fortune 500 company with a datebase of 50 million emails. Here we go…

If you want easy, mindless email marketing software that already integrates with tons of WP plugins, get Aweber, GetResponse or something similar.

If you want full control of your list and the technical challenges that come with it, get ARP Reach or Interspire Email Marketer. A lot of internet marketers and solo providers are being pushed to self-hosted because of shady emailing practices. I expect this to become more and more common.

To answer the basic question, there’s a lot of “behind the scenes” work and costs that go into creating a mail server that mails out directly to the internet. If you use a 3rd party SMTP service like Mandrill, Amazon SES or, the costs can go up significantly.

  1. Buy MyMail or MailPoet for WordPress ($39-$99), ARPReach ($299+) or Interspire ($495)
  2. Competent VPS/Dedicated hosting that will let you mail like a madman and provides reverse DNS. ($24.95/mth minimum…shared hosting will fail).
  3. Setting up SPF, DKIM and Feedback Loops.
  4. Managing SCOMPS, bounces, complaints and maintain list hygiene daily.
  5. Monitor your reputation and Senderscore. Pray you aren’t blacklisted or you’ll need a new IP and $$$ to get off the list.
  6. (Optional) Power MTA ($10k) or other MTA software to send out email quickly in large quantities (lists of 50k+).
  7. If you’re using GoDaddy and someone complains to them directly, you’ll need around $500 to get your domain back. It might have gone up.

So the hidden cost is “time” and the tools to get email delivered faster. Then there’s the cost of learning the new world of email marketing. A lot of people won’t pull this off unless they’re very comfortable with technology.

So here’s the final cost to run a list of 10k subscribers.

  • Software $39-$495
  • Host: $24.95/mth for 20k emails per day at
  • Note: It takes 5 hours to email a list of 10k using your hosts EXIM software. So forget about “instant email” without an MTA agent and powerful hosting.

As you can see…it ain’t easy, but it can be done. And once it’s done right, you’re set with a business that can only be taken down by poor mailing practices. Software is critical to making your life easier. That why the good email systems cost so much.

Got questions? Ask in the comments.

19 thoughts on “The True Costs of Running a Self-Hosted Email Autoresponder Server”

  1. I have arpreach and i want a good hosting where i can send around 50k emails per day

    can you help me find the right host and the stuff to ensure the emails are delivered properly

  2. Now I’m using autoresponseplus and planning to uograde to arpreach. Several years ago I used Aweber, but didn’t make much sense to me because of the price (my conversions were low, so I didn’t earn very much from the business to justify the cost of Aweber).

    I see you use Getresponse. In my experience, Getresponse hasn’t been as good as Aweber and by the way, if you recommend Arpreach, why you use Getresponse (is because the simplicity?)

    Thanks you

    • In my experience, GetResponse and Aweber are both great companies with excellent deliverability rates.

      Yes, I’ve personally used GetResponse for over 8 years. I use them because 1) it’s much easier to use a hosted solution than a self-hosted solution and 2) lots of software integrates with it out of the box and 3) they send out emails faster than a self-hosted solution.

    • NO experience but I hear Amazon is very picky about the first mailings. Make sure your list is super clean before sending out. Clear out all unsubscribes and bad emails before importing. I’ll definitely try Sendy some day.

        • Updated and thanks for the followup. I think Sendy is a good solution for extremely mild email senders that don’t plan on sending emails in high risk niches. If someone thinks they might get banned someday, Sendy is not a good pick. Again…depends on the person’s mail etiquette and shadiness.

  3. Hi there

    You said: “youโ€™re set with a business that can only be taken down by poor mailing practices.”

    Can you please elaborate what exactly “poor mailing practices” are?

    I am currently having a self hosting structure made for me which will include arpreach or interspire / softlayer / DRH . The reason im doing this is because i don’t want others to dictate how I run my own business. I like to send 5-6 emails per day to my list.. and I know for a fact my list doesn’t mind that at all due to the 0 complaint factor I had in aweber and all the replies I was getting in my emails. Not to mention good open and CTR rates.

    Regardless of that, aweber still banned my account for spam.

    Please be so kind as to elaborate a little more about bad practices when specifically self-hosting because I am told you have complete freedom. Unless, someone reports your IP (which is not so easy to do) and even then, who would be stupid enough to go so far and use their own IP ? Softlayer offers $1 per month for each IP.

    Hopefully this isn’t a dead blog and you get back to me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you!


    • I will discuss the noticeable red flag in your comment first. Aweber doesn’t ban accounts for spam if they’re getting zero complaints. I would revisit your conversation with Aweber to find out exactly what TOS you were violating to lead up to the suspension. It’s probably a valid one since Aweber likes to keep paying customers with zero complaints. It’s very nice (and safe) recurring income for them.

      As for complete freedom with self-hosting and poor mailing practices, it would take a full book to explain everything. There is so much to email marketing that is never discussed openly. I recommend Googling about SPF and DKIM records, ReturnPath, SenderScore, Spamhaus, FBLs and blacklists. Good luck. I don’t consult on email marketing, btw. And I use GetResponse because I don’t like having to deal with all those things I just mentioned. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Later reply but anyway:)

        Yes they do ban because of frequent sending. I didn’t have complaints and when I did, it was never near the 0.1% limit.

        Don’t send more then 2 emails per day… learned that the hard way

        • I know marketers sending 3 emails a day in the financial “tip a day” niche with Aweber. So I truly think there’s something else going on. Thanks for following up, nonetheless.

  4. Hi,
    I am searching about one good tutorial to setup a Self-Hosted Email Autoresponder Server.
    Thank you for your help.

  5. I’m in the midst of going through all this now.

    You have summarized it all pretty well from what I have found myself so far.

    I have heard that mail providers have learnt how to detect emails sent from Interspire and they no longer get great inbox rates due it being used by spammers a lot. Do you know if this is the case with arpreach also?

  6. Thanks for sharing

    (1) Does it mean that I cannot send unlimited emails per day via arpReach without integrating it with hosting services like Hitdirector?

    (2) Are there no cheaper hosting apart from Hitdirector that can allow unlimited emails per day?

    Sorry I am just starting out in email marketing, so doing some research I came across your website. I hope you understand.

    Hope to read your response soon.


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