Previously, I had shared an article on the importance of using SMTP to improve email deliverability and steps to configure SMTP on any WordPress site using the free WP Mail SMTP plugin. In the same article, I had also shared the steps for configuring Mailgun and SendGrid as your default WordPress mailer.
Now, in this article, I’m going to show you how to set up WordPress SMTP using Amazon SES (Simple Email Service). Like Mailgun, SendGrid, and Sendinblue, Amazon SES can also be used as your email delivery and SMTP platform to send large amounts of emails. Typically, this is recommended for large organizations because it allows them to send mass emails at a reasonable price.
It also ensures that your emails land in your customer’s inbox and not their spam folder. This increases customer engagement and boosts your conversion.
To configure your WordPress site to use Amazon SES as the default mailer, you need WP Mail SMTP Pro.
What is WP Mail SMTP Pro
WP Mail SMTP Pro is the premium version of the free WP Mail SMTP plugin by WPForms. It allows you to configure Amazon SES as your email provider in a few simple steps without breaking your head. Apart from that, you can manage notifications, log emails, and get one year of support and updates.
(Comes with a 14 days money-back guarantee)
How to set up WordPress SMTP using Amazon SES
Time needed: 30 minutes.
NOTE: If you have access to Amazon Web Services and configured Amazon SES for your site previously, you can jump straight to Step 10. If not, you can follow the steps below for creating a new account on AWS Free Tier and then configure WordPress SMTP using Amazon SES.
- Create a free AWS account
Sign up for a free account on Amazon Web Services.
Note that you will be asked to provide your card details even though you are signing up for the AWS Free Tier. But you won’t be charged unless you exceed your allocated limit.
- Select your region
Amazon will try to determine your region automatically after you have created your account. If it’s not able to determine your region properly or if your region is unsupported, you can choose the region nearest to you manually.
- Create an IAM User
Now, you need to create a new user account (IAM User) by going to the AWS IAM User page and signing in with your AWS account. This is the first step to creating the Amazon SES access keys that you’ll be needing later.
- Set username and select access type
Once you have signed in with your AWS account, set up a new user by clicking on the Add user button. Although you can enter anything in the User name field (under Set user details section), you should enter something meaningful that will help you associate it with your site later.
Now, scroll down to the Select AWS access type section and check the Programmatic access box next to Access type. Click on the Next: Permissions button to move on to the next step.
- Configure IAM User Setting Permissions
Now, select Attach existing policies directly from the top row and search for ‘AmazonSESFullAccess’ (without quotes) from the search bar. It should return the AmazonSESFullAccess policy as a result. Verify that this policy is checked (tick is present). Only then will the policy be applied to your user created in the previous step.
Once it’s done, click on the Next: tags button. You can safely skip the next page and click on the Next: Review button.
- Review user details
Go through all the data displayed on the next page and click on the Create user button if everything is good. A success message will now be displayed along with your Access Key ID and Secret Access Key.
VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you copy them to a secure location because once you close this page, it cannot be viewed again.
- Switch to AWS Production mode
By default, Amazon SES will be in Sandbox mode. That is, you cannot send emails to anyone whose address isn’t verified with Amazon SES. To move your account from Sandbox to Production Mode, you need to submit a request to AWS by filling this form.
To submit the request, choose the Service limit increase as the case under Create case section.
- Fill out the Case classification form
Now, fill the Case Classification form. Note that this step is very important as it is what helps Amazon understand why you need full access to SES.
- Fill out the Case description form
Once you have filled the Case classification form, provide Amazon with an accurate description of your use case by filling the Case description form. Be sure to tell them more about your website/business and why you need to send emails, i.e., how you will be using Amazon SES (for sending newsletters, transactional emails, etc). Once you have explained everything in detail, hit the Submit button.
You’ll receive a couple of emails confirming that a new case has been created.
Note: AWS will usually get back to you within 24 hours. But, we can start configuring WordPress with Amazon SES mailer using WP Mail SMTP Pro in the meantime.
- Install WP Mail SMTP Pro
Install and activate the WP Mail SMTP Pro plugin on your website by downloading the latest copy of the plugin from your WP Mail SMTP account and uploading it to your website manually.
- Configure basic SMTP settings
Now, go to WP Mail SMTP –> Settings page and enter the From Email and From Name. It is recommended that you use a domain-specific email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org) for better email deliverability.
- Select Amazon SES as the Mailer
Scroll down to the Mailer section and select Amazon SES as your mailer. Remember that you need WP Mail SMTP Pro to use Amazon SES and Microsoft Outlook. All the other mailers are available for free.
- Configure Amazon SES Mailer
You can now find a new Amazon SES section being displayed on the screen. Copy and paste the Access Key ID and Secret Access Key which you created earlier (in Step 6) into the respective fields. The Closest Region field will automatically be chosen based on your server’s location. You can also manually change it if it’s incorrect. Now, save your changes by clicking on the Save Settings button.
- Add verified emails to Amazon SES
A new Verified Emails section will be displayed to you. You should add all the email addresses which you intend to use as the ‘From Email’ on your site. You will have to verify each email address that you add on the screen by clicking on the corresponding verification links you receive in your email inbox. After you have added all the emails, refresh the page.
- Send a test email
You have now configured Amazon SES as your WordPress SMTP. To make sure that your SMTP settings are working properly, you can send yourself a test email by navigating to the Email Test tab (scroll all the way to the top), entering your current email address in the Send To field, and hitting the Send Email button.
If you can find the test email in your inbox, it could mean only one thing – you have successfully configured Amazon SES as your WordPress SMTP mailer.
I hope you found this WordPress SMTP tutorial for Amazon SES really useful. Do let me know if it worked for you in the comments section below. By the way, don’t forget to share this post with anyone else that might find it useful.