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How are Outbound Message overages counted?

Messages that are sent through our Outbound SMTP service are treated differently than the method used for tallying inbound messages. Specifically, each delivery recipient is counted as a "distinct message".

For a variety of reasons:

  • Even when sending a single message to multiple recipients, the message is often split out into multiple messages behind the scenes.
  • Whether you send three distinct messages or send a single message three distinct recipients, the amount of work for our outbound mail server is nearly identical.
  • Every remote recipient carries some level of risk of harming our outbound mail server reputation, including the risk of being rate-limited for sending too much in a short period.
  • If messages weren't counted by the number of recipients, users could send their newsletter to 1,000 recipients and have it counted as a single message. Additionally, a single message to a large group of recipients can be more problematic since your email software can send 1 message with "many" recipients in a fraction of the time it takes to send "many" messages that each have a single recipient.

Automatically exempt from overage fees

Some messages are automatically excluded from your message count and therefore won't cause overage fees:

  • Blocked messages - This applies to both messages that were identified by SpamHero as "spam" as well as messages that were blocked while a user's sending privileges were suspended. Messages that were blocked by the recipient's mail host are still included in your message count.
  • Messages to SpamHero - Any message that ultimately delivers to a SpamHero server (including for reporting inbound "missed spam") is exempt from being counted.
  • Messages to subscribed domains - When an outbound message is delivered to our inbound filtering servers, it is counted as an "inbound" message instead of an "outbound" message. This happens when the recipient is subscribed to our service and has their MX records configured correctly.
  • Repeat bounces - When a message to a recipient fails to deliver, the first bounce is counted but repeated bounces are ignored (for the remainder of the current hour). This is mostly to automatically "forgive" mistakes where a misconfigured mail server inadvertently tries to deliver 5,000+ messages to the same invalid email address.


Exempt from overage fees, upon request

We are willing to exempt messages from overage fees in a variety of situations--as long as the request is made while the associated messages are still showing in the outbound viewer.

Some example scenarios where we would typically be willing to waive overage fees include:

  • Accidental mail bombs - A system (or user) inadvertently sent a massive amount of mail.
  • Missed spam - It's common for spammers to use compromised users to "test" their spam campaign and find a combination that gets through the filter--and then send a massive broadcast that takes a while for the filter to catch. If this happens, let us know as soon as possible so that we can waive the associated overage fees.
  • Mail loops - Our system does take measures to detect (and stop) mail loops but there may still be circumstances where the remote server modifies the message just enough that the duplicates aren't detected.
  • Unusual circumstances - We're reasonable. If you've had an incident where something caused a massive spike in outbound mail, get in touch with us.


Current usage stats

You can view your current message counts and projected overages on the Outbound tab of the SpamHero dashboard.

The numbers used for the graph and the Message activity box automatically exclude messages that are exempt from overage fees. However, some exemptions are processed at the end of the day--causing the related counts to temporarily appear in the graph and the stats.

Last updated December 6, 2023