Cloudways has partnered with Elastic Email – a leading email marketing platform trusted by thousands of customers worldwide.

Elastic Email is a fast and reliable email delivery service for sending marketing and transactional emails. Transactional emails are automated emails triggered by user actions, including shipping confirmation, password reset link, etc. Marketing emails are used to promote services or products you offer while developing relationships with potential clients. It can include sales promotions, exclusive deals, newsletters, etc.

These emails are usually in bulk dispatching from your server/application to your customers or subscribers. The external SMTP service like Elastic Email maximizes the deliverability of emails. In this step-by-step guide, you will learn how to integrate the Elastic Email add-on on your server.

How to Activate the Elastic Email Add-on

The following guide is broken down into two sections; the first section shows how to activate the Elastic Email add-on using the Cloudways Platform; the second section shows how to verify your domains to increase deliverability. Also, you will learn how to test your SMTP configuration and download the Elastic Email logs to get quick insights about your email deliveries.

Important

Please note that verifying the domain is mandatory, else the emails will not work.

Prerequisites

Elastic Email add-on requires you to bind it with your server; therefore, you must have a server to use the Elastic Email. If not, you can launch a new server.

Activate Elastic Email — Navigate to Add-ons

Log in to your Cloudways Platform using your email address and password.

  1. From the top menu bar, click Grid.

  2. Then, select Add-ons.

Activate Elastic Email — Subscribe to Elastic Email Package

  1. Navigate to the Elastic Email add-on from the list.

  2. Click edit.

3. Select a Package based on your email volume requirement (total number of emails per month).

4. Finally, click Subscribe.

Activate Elastic Email — Bind Elastic Email to Server

Now, you need to bind the Elastic Email add-on to your desired server where you wish to configure the SMTP service. Here’s how to do it.

  1. From the top menu bar, open Servers.

  2. Then, choose your desired server.

3. Under Server Management, select SMTP.

4. Select Elastic Email from the dropdown.

5. Click Enable.

Tip

You can also bind the same Elastic Email package to more than one server as well.

That’s it! You have successfully configured the Elastic Email add-on on your server; therefore, you do not need to activate Elastic Email separately for each application. Let’s move to the next step of verifying your domain(s) for the improved email delivery rate.

How to Verify Your Domain

Domain verification proves that you are the domain owner and authorizes Elastic Email to send emails on your behalf. If the domain authentication is not set up correctly, your emails might end up going to your recipient’s spam boxes. For the domain verification process, you need to point a few DNS records in your Domain/DNS registrar panel and add the domain on the Cloudways Platform. We recommend adding all the DNS records as mentioned below for the smooth delivery of your emails.

Tip

Domain Registrar is a company from where you purchased your domain, while the DNS records can be hosted at the same domain registrar or any third-party service.

1. SPF

SPF stands for “Sender Policy Framework”. SPF is an email authentication method. SPF helps servers authenticate that messages appearing to come from a specific domain are sent from servers authorized by the domain owner. It helps protect your domain from phishing and spoofing, and it also ensures that your messages are delivered correctly.

You will need the following information while pointing SPF record.

Type

TXT

Name/Host/Alias

@

Value/Answer/Destination

v=spf1 a mx include:_spf.elasticemail.com ~all

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

Tip

  • Some DNS registrars may not accept “@” as Host; thus, you can leave the Host field blank. If that does not work, you can enter your domain name in the Host field.

  • Please note that there can only be one SPF record per domain, so if there is an existing record, add “include:_spf.elasticemail.com” at the end of that record. For instance, if your domain already has the SPF record for Rackspace mail add-on as “v=spf1 a mx include:emailsrvr.com include:_spf.elasticemail.com ~all”, after updating your final record should look like “v=spf1 a mx include:_spf.google.com include:_spf.elasticemail.com ~all”. Similarly, if you have an SPF record for Gsuite, the record should look like “v=spf1 a mx include:_spf.google.com ~all”.

2. DKIM

DKIM stands for “DomainKeys Identified Mail”. It is also an email authentication method that adds a digital signature to every message. In addition, DKIM allows receiving servers to confirm that the domain’s owners have authorized mail coming from a domain and that these messages aren’t altered during transit.

You will need the following information while pointing DKIM record.

Type

TXT

Name/Host/Alias

api._domainkey

Value/Answer/Destination

k=rsa;t=s;p=MIGfMA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBAQUAA4GNADCBiQKBgQCbmGbQMzYeMvxwtNQoXN0waGYaciuKx8mtMh5czguT4EZlJXuCt6V+l56mmt3t68FEX5JJ0q4ijG71BGoFRkl87uJi7LrQt1ZZmZCvrEII0YO4mp8sDLXC8g1aUAoi8TJgxq2MJqCaMyj5kAm3Fdy2tzftPCV/lbdiJqmBnWKjtwIDAQAB

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

Tip

  • Some DNS registrar may not accept “api._domainkey” as Host; thus, you can enter “api._domainkey.mydomain.com”, replacing my domain with your actual domain.

3. Tracking

Elastic Email “tracks” opens, clicks, unsubscribes, etc. You need to rewrite links and use web pages. Configuring a “tracking domain” brands these rewritten links and pages with your own domain.

You will need the following information while pointing tracking record.

Type

CNAME

Name/Host/Alias

tracking

Value/Answer/Destination

api.elasticemail.com

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

Tip

  • If your DNS registrar automatically adds your domain name after the tracking value, e.g., “api.elasticemail.com.mydomain.com”. To avoid this from happening, add a period “.” at the end of your tracking record value, e.g., “api.elasticemail.com.”.

  • If you are using Cloudflare to manage your DNS records, please note that you must disable the orange proxy icon while pointing the tracking record.

4. MX

MX record stands for “Mail Exchange Records”. It specifies a mail server responsible for accepting emails addressed to your domain. In other words, MX records tell which mail servers accept incoming emails for your domain and where emails should be routed if addressed to your domain. Therefore, you need to have the correct MX records to receive emails.

Most users have mailboxes (e.g., “ask@mydomain.com”) configured to receive emails; therefore, if you have a mailbox from any third-party service, e.g., Rackspace, Gsuite, etc., you have MX records already configured with it; thus, you don’t need to point any additional records, and you can move to the next and final DNS record. If you don’t have a Mailbox, you can use an inexpensive Rackspace Email Add-on on Cloudways Platform.

5. DMARC

DMARC stands for “DMARC is short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance”. It is also an email authentication protocol that ensures the proper authentication of emails. SPF and DKIM are prerequisites of DMARC and must be implemented before setting up a DMARC policy.

A DMARC policy allows a sender to indicate that their emails are signed by SPF and DKIM and tells a receiver what to do if neither authentication methods pass, such as junk or bounce the email. Please note that the DMARC policy on your domain will affect all of your emails sent from that domain, not only the emails sent using Elastic Email; therefore, please ensure you are using the SPF and DKIM for all your email delivery.

Tip

If you are looking to set a custom DMARC policy, we strongly recommend using Elastic Email’s DMARC Generator – it will help you create DMARC records suited for your domain.

There are three different ways to point DMARC records based on your requirement.

Option 1 — Setup your DMARC policy with a simple, most common DMARC record. In this option, you will not receive any reports.

Type

TXT

Name/Host/Alias

_dmarc

Value/Answer/Destination

v=DMARC1; p=none;

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

Option 2 — In this option, you will receive reports. The DMARC Reports will come to the email you specify in ruf= and rua= parameters.

Type

TXT

Name/Host/Alias

_dmarc

Value/Answer/Destination

v=DMARC1; p=none; ruf=mailto:youremail@mydomain.com; rua=mailto:youremail@mydomain.com

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

When you no longer receive negative reports, change your DMARC policy from “p=none” to “p=quarantine”, which will not necessarily bounce email, but indicate to the recipient server they should consider quarantining it (junk or spam folder).

Option 3 — You will also receive reports with this option. When you are satisfied that you are validating all the emails from your domain(s) with SPF and DKIM, change the policy to reject, which will bounce the emails that do not pass SPF and DKIM validation.

Type

TXT

Name/Host/Alias

_dmarc

Value/Answer/Destination

v=DMARC1; p=reject; ruf=mailto:youremail@mydomain.com; rua=mailto:youremail@mydomain.com

TTL

Automatic or the lowest allowed

After configuring all the DNS records, it’s time to verify your domain on the Cloudways Platform using the following steps:

  1. First, go back to the Add-ons section where you activated the Elastic Email.

  2. Click Verify.

3. Next, add your domain name.

4. Finally, click Verify Domain.

Once domain verification is passed, you will see that all records will now appear in green color. If the domain verification is not passed, you can wait and retry as DNS records propagation may take up to 24 hours.

All the verified domains and domains with missing records will appear by clicking View Verified Domains. Next, you can set FROM address for your emails using the Cloudways Platform.

How to Test SMTP Configuration

Cloudways offers you the on-site functionality of testing your SMTP settings immediately after configuring the SMTP service on the server. For example, you can verify if emails are properly dispatching from the server by sending a test email to yourself.

  1. Return to your Server SMTP settings where you have set up your Elastic Email.

  2. Click Send Test Email.

3. Next, enter the Sender’s email address (From address).

4. Enter your email address as the recipient (To address).

5. Finally, click Send Test Email.

Tip

The sender’s email address (From address) should be that verified email for which DNS records are correctly pointed. Sender’s email with no DNS authentication will primarily land in spam.

Elastic Email Logs

Elastic Email keeps track of all the events that an email experiences. For instance, if you send an email to your customer, the customer opens the email, then clicks a link, then unsubscribe, each event log is recorded; however, the email delivery log itself will show the email only as “Unsubscribed”.

Now, you can download Elastic Email logs right from the ease of Cloudways Platform. The logs will show all the necessary information to understand how your emails are performing. The log file is available to download in .csv format, and it will contain logs of the past 15 days. The log file will have many insights, but one of the essential metrics to look for in the logs is Email Delivery Status. Here are all of the delivery statuses an email might have.

ReadyToSend: The email is in the delivery queue and waiting for its turn to be delivered.

WaitingToRetry: An email will be put into this status if a delivery attempt receives a “greylisting” response from the recipient server or a temporary connection issue.

Sent: If the email status is “Sent”, then the first-in-line recipient server has successfully accepted the email from Elastic Email. No additional information is yet known about the email.

Opened: Elastic Email embeds a 1×1 invisible image pixel in the BodyHTML of your emails. When a recipient opens an email, the image is downloaded. The downloading of the image informs Elastic Email of this activity. When this happens, the email is considered “Opened”. Only emails containing BodyHTML can be tracked for opens.

Clicked: If Click Tracking is enabled on your account, Elastic Email will rewrite the links in your emails. For example, when a recipient clicks a link, the user is briefly directed through Elastic Email and then onto the original target URL. When this happens, the email status will change to “Clicked”.

Unsubscribed: This status means that the recipient used this particular email to unsubscribe from your account.

Complaint: This status means that the recipient has either marked the email as spam in the email client or marked “I did not ask to receive this email” while unsubscribing.

Bounced: If an email has a Bounced Status, then it means that Elastic Email attempted to deliver the email but was unable to. There are very many reasons why this might occur.

Suppressed: If an email status is “Suppressed” it means that Elastic Email did not or was not able to make a delivery attempt. The most common reason for this is when an email is sent to a contact with a suppressed status.

Here is how you can download your email logs:

  1. First, visit the Add-ons section from where you activated the Elastic Email.

  2. Click Logs to start downloading.

That’s it! We hope this article was helpful. If you need any help, then feel free to search your query on Cloudways Support Center or contact us via chat (Need a Hand > Send us a Message). Alternatively, you can also create a support ticket.

Did this answer your question?