Bulk or business emailing looks easy on the outside, it is only about pushing the send button after writing beautiful content your leads will kill for. And boom, your leads receive the mail in their inbox, you are converting and hitting the heights you prayed for.

Looking behind the scenes shows a different window altogether. It takes more than just the send button on your computer screen and knowing all of these indexes is what sums up your shares as a prudent digital marketer that knows his salt. It is here you will meet and regularize yourself with annoying acronyms like IMAP, POP, MTA, and others, but they are not annoying, trust me.

To become a pro at just anything, email marketing inclusive, you will need to know a bit of detail that is not within the domain of everyone, you will have to take the extra steps. And learning what SMTP Relay is, is one of such extra steps you will have to take to reach your zenith.

What then is SMTP Relay?

First created in 1982, it is a protocol that allows emails to be transmitted through the internet, from one server to the other. Describing it here will do the work better. When you hit the send button on your computer, after rechecking your content, your server is tasked with the demanding job of finding the domain of your receiver and in your case, the receiver’s so the emails can be sent to them.

To achieve this daunting task, your server relies on SMTP Relay, SMTP Relay in this case finds the right server for each email and drops off the email. In this regard, it will not be out of place to call SMTP Relay the errand boy or the delivery boy, while SMTP Server is the postman. The important point to note here will be that “ the email transfer that happens between servers, is what is called SMTP Relay.

How does it work?

Here are 2 simple ways to understand how it works:

  1. SMTP Relay receives your outgoing emails from the sender server
  2. It sorts out the right receiving server and delivers the mail

This sounds simple, right? It could be more complex, however, let’s stay with the simple things for now.

Why SMTP Relay is important

  • It gets your email to the final destination:

The goal of every email campaign is to hit gold, you surely want to convert and have your leads taking the actions you must have outlined in your call to action. The entire effort will be lost, if the email fails to reach its final destination, and this is where SMTP Relay comes in. Your emails are sorted out, and the right email is sent to the right server, thus preventing a shortfall. And since you want to deliver more emails, than failed ones, your relay services will need to be working at top gear.

  • Maintenance & Analytics

It cost a great deal of money to run a server and maintain it, it is no easy feet and protecting it from the prying eyes of hackers can also be a challenge, with SMT Relay set up, as part of your SMTP project you save yourself, maintenance fee and the headache of protecting your server. This is now someone’s job so you can focus on your job.

Similarly, with trackers now added to most SMTP Relays, you will have the opportunity to read your delivery and open rates, helping you to decide what works, and what you will need to work.

  • No limits:

You have no single limits on the number of messages you can send, and when you can send them. Relay is always on the ground to deliver your emails and at top speed.

FUN FACT: The most popular email marketing service Mailchimp that has over 62.9% market share in email marketing around the globe, offers SMTP integration, not many people know that that’s why you go to other small smtp providers.

Relation between SMTP servers, SMTP, and SMTP Relay.

SMTP servers, SMTP and SMTP Relay can be likened to triplets of the same offspring, they work in harmony and they are always together. One cannot work independently of the other, so they work in synergy to help you achieve your goals, which is to get your mails to the right destination. Let me explain better how it works here.

First, you will need a server, this is where your SMTP server comes in. With the SMTP server, you will be able to have SMTP services running for you, and these services cannot run successfully without your Relay. Better still let me expatiate more on this point, you will need your server to send your bulk Emails this is what business emails are all about.

Now, when you hit your send button to release the emails to your leads, it goes through your SMTP server and it will have to relay with other servers to get your email sent across to your leads. This is the synergy, your SMTP will only pick your email and send it to the server, the server will send your emails immediately to your leads if they are on the same server with you. And if they are not relay is the platform that gets your emails to the right destination.

From the above illustration, you understand that you cannot do without SMTP, the server, and the relay service. All of this makes up your business email, and the perfect working of these three will give you the success you deserve at all times.


The world of email marketing is a complex one, however, making complex things simple is a great choice for me. Knowing the difference between SMTP, SMTP server and relay will leave you in charge of your email marketing campaigns, giving you the facelift you deserve.

Now that you know how these variables work and what operates behind the scenes when you hit the send button, it will be easy to highlight your email marketing campaigns and the journey each email takes to get to its destination. You would not have to pay for all this separately, however, understanding the energy and how each one work makes perfect sense.

Read my company’s latest eBook on using SMTP Servers for free for sending your emails!