Set up a CloudWatch event destination for event publishing - Amazon Simple Email Service Classic

This is the user guide for Amazon SES Classic. Updates and new features are only being documented in the new Amazon SES Developer Guide which we recommend to use.

Set up a CloudWatch event destination for event publishing

You can use Amazon CloudWatch event destinations to publish Amazon SES email sending events to CloudWatch. Because a CloudWatch event destination exists within a configuration set only, you must first create a configuration set and then add the event destination to the configuration set.

When you add a CloudWatch event destination to a configuration set, you must choose one or more CloudWatch dimensions that correspond to the message tags you use when you send your emails. Like message tags, a CloudWatch dimension is a name/value pair that helps you uniquely identify a metric.

For example, you might have a message tag and a dimension called campaign that you use to identify your email campaign. When you publish your email sending events to CloudWatch, choosing your message tags and dimensions is important because these choices affect your CloudWatch billing and determine how you can filter your email sending event data in CloudWatch.

This section provides information to help you choose your dimensions, and then shows how to add a CloudWatch event destination to a configuration set.

Adding a CloudWatch Event Destination

The procedure in this section shows how to add a CloudWatch event destination to a configuration set.

You can also use the UpdateConfigurationSetEventDestination operation in the Amazon SES API V2 to create and modify event destinations.

To add a CloudWatch event destination to a configuration set by using the console

  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console at

  2. In the navigation pane, choose Configuration Sets.

  3. In the list of configuration sets, choose the configuration set for which you want to create a CloudWatch event destination. If the list is empty, you must first create a configuration set.

  4. On the Event Destinations tab, for Add Destination, choose Select a destination type, and then choose CloudWatch.

  5. On the CloudWatch Destination dialog box, select Enabled.

  6. For Name, type a name for the event destination.

  7. For Event types, select the event types you want to publish to the event destination. The following event types are available:

    • Sends – The call to Amazon SES was successful and Amazon SES will attempt to deliver the email.

    • Rejects – Amazon SES accepted the email, determined that it contained a virus, and rejected it. Amazon SES didn't attempt to deliver the email to the recipient's mail server.

    • Bounces – The recipient's mail server permanently rejected the email. This event corresponds to hard bounces. Soft bounces are only included when Amazon SES fails to deliver the email after retrying for a period of time.

    • Complaints – The email was successfully delivered to the recipient. The recipient marked the email as spam.

    • Deliveries – Amazon SES successfully delivered the email to the recipient's mail server.

    • Opens – The recipient received the message and opened it in their email client.

    • Clicks – The recipient clicked one or more links in the email.

    • Rendering Failures – The email wasn't sent because of a template rendering issue. This event type only occurs when you send email using the SendTemplatedEmail or SendBulkTemplatedEmail API operations. This event type can occur when template data is missing, or when there is a mismatch between template parameters and data.

    • Delivery Delays – The email couldn't be delivered to the recipient because a temporary issue occurred. Delivery delays can occur, for example, when the recipient's inbox is full, or when the receiving email server experiences a transient issue.

  8. For Value Source, specify how Amazon SES will obtain the data that it passes to CloudWatch. The following value sources are available:

    • Message Tag – Amazon SES retrieves the dimension name and value from a tag that you specify by using the X-SES-MESSAGE-TAGS header or the Tags API parameter. For more information about using message tags, see Step 3: Specify your configuration set when you send email.


      Message tags can include the numbers 0–9, the letters A–Z (both uppercase and lowercase), hyphens (-), and underscores (_).

      You can also use the Message Tag value source to create dimensions based on Amazon SES auto-tags. To use an auto-tag, type the complete name of the auto-tag as the Dimension Name. For example, to create a dimension based on the configuration set auto-tag, use ses:configuration-set for the Dimension Name, and the name of the configuration set for the Default Value. For a complete list of auto-tags, see How event publishing works.

    • Email Header – Amazon SES retrieves the dimension name and value from a header in the email.


      You can't use any of the following email headers as the Dimension Name: Received, To, From, DKIM-Signature, CC, message-id, or Return-Path.

    • Link Tag – Amazon SES retrieves the dimension name and value from a tag that you specified in a link. For more information about adding tags to links, see Can I tag links with unique identifiers?.

  9. For Dimension Name, type the name of the dimension that you want to pass to CloudWatch.


    Dimension names can contain only ASCII letters (a-z, A-Z), numbers (0-9), underscores (_), and dashes (-). Spaces, accented characters, non-Latin characters, and other special characters are not allowed.

  10. For Default Value, type the value of the dimension.


    Dimension values can contain only ASCII letters (a-z, A-Z), numbers (0-9), underscores (_), dashes (-), at signs (@), and periods (.). Spaces, accented characters, non-Latin characters, and other special characters are not allowed.

  11. If you want to add more dimensions, choose Add Dimension. Otherwise, choose Save.

Choosing CloudWatch Dimensions

When you choose names and values to use as CloudWatch dimensions, consider the following factors:

  • Price per metric – You can view basic Amazon SES metrics in CloudWatch for free. However, when you collect metrics using event publishing, you create custom metrics in CloudWatch. Each unique combination of event type, dimension name, and dimension value creates a different custom metric in CloudWatch. When you use CloudWatch, you are charged for each custom metric you create. For this reason, you might want to avoid choosing dimensions that can take many different values. For example, unless you are very interested in tracking your email sending events by "From" domain, you might not want to define a dimension for the Amazon SES auto-tag ses:from-domain because it can take many different values. For more information, see CloudWatch Pricing.

  • Metric filtering – If a metric has multiple dimensions, you cannot access the metric in CloudWatch based on each dimension separately. For that reason, think carefully before you add more than one dimension to a single CloudWatch event destination. For example, if you want metrics by campaign and by a combination of campaign and genre, you need to add two event destinations: one with only campaign as a dimension, and one with both campaign and genre as dimensions.

  • Dimension value source – As an alternative to specifying your dimension values using Amazon SES-specific headers or a parameter to the API, you can also choose for Amazon SES to take the dimension values from your own MIME message headers. You might use this option if you are already using custom headers and you do not want to change your emails or your calls to the email sending API to collect metrics based on your header values. If you use your own MIME message headers for Amazon SES event publishing, the header names and values that you use for Amazon SES event publishing may only include the letters A through Z, the numbers 0 through 9, underscores (_), at signs (@), hyphens (-), and periods (.). If you specify a name or value that contains other characters, the email sending call will still succeed, but the event metrics will not be sent to Amazon CloudWatch.

For more information about CloudWatch concepts, see Amazon CloudWatch Concepts in the Amazon CloudWatch User Guide.