As sales reps and marketers, we often focus on crafting killer email subject lines, perfecting our prospecting strategies, and mastering the art of drip campaigns.

But have you ever stopped to think about what's happening behind the scenes?

I'll admit, I used to leave all the technical stuff to the IT gurus and developers. However, understanding email infrastructure can actually have a big impact on the success of your email campaigns.

In this article, I'm here to demystify email infrastructure and show you why it's essential knowledge for anyone in the world of email marketing.

Email Infrastructure Explained


Normally when I hear the word “infrastructure," I think of stuff like roadways, buildings, and bridges. A collection of components that facilitate the movement of goods and people.

Well, email infrastructure is kind of the same, except it’s all about sending and receiving emails.

Think of email infrastructure as the hidden framework that supports everything related to email messages. It's like the backbone of your email operations, consisting of both software and hardware components.

Many companies build their own email infrastructure to streamline communications. And it helps improve customer experience since you can send and reply to customer emails quickly.

Key Components of Email Infrastructure

There are several key components that work together to ensure smooth and efficient email delivery. These are:

IP Addresses


In the email world, IP addresses help determine where an email message comes from. Think of them as virtual return addresses. Now, there are two types you should know about: dedicated IP and shared IP.

With a dedicated IP address, it's like having the address to your own house. You have exclusive control over it, and that can be super important, especially for B2B sales.

Maintaining a good reputation for your IP address can help ensure that your emails reach their intended recipients.

On the other hand, a shared IP address means that multiple senders use the same IP. The reputation of that IP is influenced by all the senders, so it's a shared responsibility.

And if you’re associated with an IP that does some shady things, you’re guilty by association.

SMTP Server


The SMTP  (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server acts as a digital post office, making sure your messages get sent and received properly.

Whenever you hit that “send” button, the SMTP server steps in and takes charge. It handles all the behind-the-scenes work, routing your emails to their destinations and ensuring they end up in the right inboxes.

Without the SMTP server, your emails would be lost in the vastness of the internet. So, it's definitely a key player in the email infrastructure.

Mail Agents

Mail agents help make the email magic happen. There are a few different types to know about:

  • Mail User Agent (MUA): This is the software or application you use to compose, send, and receive your emails. It's like your trusty sidekick, always there to help you manage your messages.
  • Mail Transfer Agent (MTA): The MTA is like the courier that takes care of transferring emails between servers. It ensures that your emails are properly routed and delivered, making sure they reach their intended recipients.
  • Message Delivery Agent (MDA): Once the MTA has done its job, the MDA steps in to receive the incoming messages and store them in the recipient's mailbox. It's like the final destination for your email, ensuring it reaches its intended recipient's inbox.

These mail agents work together behind the scenes for smooth email communication, making sure your messages go from point A to point B without any hiccups.

Feedback Loops

A feedback loop is a mechanism that allows email senders to receive notifications and feedback about how recipients interact with their emails.

Now, why does this matter, especially for B2B sales? Well, they let you gain insights into how your recipients engage with your emails. You can find out if they opened your email, clicked on any links, or took any desired actions.

With this feedback, you can analyze what works and what doesn't in your email campaigns. You can make data-driven improvements, craft more engaging content, and personalize your messages to resonate better with your audience.

Reputation Management Tools

Finally, there are reputation management tools. As you guessed, these tools use business analytics and intelligence to measure and monitor your email sender's reputation.

They keep a close eye on factors like email deliverability, spam complaints, and bounce rates. They can also help keep tabs on important email metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

Reputation management is a must when dealing with emails because it can mean the difference between ending up on a blacklist or getting your cold email game to pop off.

The Different Types of Email Infrastructure

When it comes to email infrastructure, there are different options available to meet your business needs. Let's explore the three main types:

Cloud-Based MTA (Hosted Email Infrastructure)

A cloud-based MTA, or mail transfer agent, is hosted in the cloud by a third-party vendor. It makes it easier to get started without having to invest in physical hardware, and you can handle multiple users.

Here are the benefits:

  • Easy scalability: With a cloud-based MTA, you can effortlessly scale your email infrastructure as your business grows.
  • Cost-effective: Avoid the upfront costs associated with purchasing and maintaining physical hardware. Instead, pay for the services and resources you actually use.
  • High availability: Cloud providers typically have robust infrastructure and backup systems in place, so there’s minimal downtime for your email operations.
  • Simplified management: With a hosted email infrastructure, the service provider takes care of hardware maintenance, software updates, and security measures. You can just focus on other important aspects of your business without worrying about the technicalities.

Some examples of cloud-based email systems include Mailchimp, SendGrid, Amazon SES, and Mailgun.

On-Premise MTA (Commercially-Licensed Email Infrastructure)

On-premise email infrastructure is installed and managed within your own physical premises. This gives you full control over your email system.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Control and customization: You have complete control over your email infrastructure and functionality.
  • Data security: You’ll be able to implement robust security measures and protocols to protect your sensitive data.
  • Independence: Operate independently without relying on external service providers. You have complete autonomy over the system's management and maintenance.
  • Seamless integration: With an on-premise setup, you have greater flexibility in integrating your email infrastructure with other on-site applications and systems for streamlined workflow and communication.

Hybrid Email Infrastructure

A hybrid email infrastructure combines the best of both cloud-based and on-premise solutions. It offers a flexible and adaptable approach to meet your specific requirements.

Here's what makes it unique:

  • Flexibility and scalability: Choose which components of your email infrastructure to host in the cloud and which to keep on-premise. This flexibility allows you to scale specific aspects of your email system based on your evolving needs.
  • Data control and compliance: With a hybrid solution, you can maintain sensitive data on-premise while leveraging the scalability and reliability of the cloud for other aspects of your email infrastructure.
  • Cost optimization: Leverage the cost-effectiveness of the cloud for certain email services while keeping the more resource-intensive or sensitive aspects on-premise.

Email Infrastructure Best Practices

Understanding Email Infrastructure

Whether you're looking at a cloud-based solution or opt to develop an on-premise MTA, follow these tips to ensure the effectiveness and deliverability of your email campaigns:

Warm Up Your IP Address

If you're starting with a fresh IP address, it's crucial to give it a warm welcome. Similar to warming up a new email address, gradually introducing your IP address to the email ecosystem is key.

Start by sending a small volume of emails regularly and gradually increase the volume over time. This helps establish a positive reputation for your IP address, preventing it from being flagged as suspicious by email filters.

By warming up your IP, you improve your chances of achieving better deliverability and inbox placement.

Don't Forget a Lead Capture Form

When it comes to lead generation, a lead capture form is an invaluable tool. According to HubSpot, 74% of marketers consider online forms as one of their top lead generation tools. Including a lead capture form on your website or landing page allows you to collect valuable contact information from potential customers.