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When looking for a transactional email service provider, you inevitably come across Mandrill. It’s reliable. It’s robust. But also, it’s pricey for growing businesses.
The market is full of transactional email software for every taste and budget. In this article, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of each Mandrill alternative.
Mailchimp Transactional Email, formerly Mandrill, is a paid Mailchimp add-on designed specifically to deliver transactional emails.
Mandrill enables you to send event-driven messages via the API or SMTP relay, track email activity, and respond to it. Mandrill’s email API connects your site to the functionality of a transactional email service allowing you to send out automated emails when a predefined event occurs.
Its Rules Engine offers to define actions that should be taken after an email was sent. You can specify criteria that should be met for an application to send the event to webhook and take additional action, like setting click tracking, adding tags, rejecting messages, etc.
Mind that Mailchimp Transactional Email doesn’t store contacts, and it makes requests to your external database every time an email is triggered. This is a serious drawback for those who want to collect and re-use recipients’ contacts in future email marketing campaigns.
Which is better, Mandrill or Mailchimp? You can’t really compare these two – they’re apples and oranges. Mailchimp is an all-in-one platform for email marketers, and Mandrill is a dedicated transactional email service for tech enthusiasts.
Although the company has already changed the Mandrill name to Mailchimp Transactional Email, the platform is still to be transferred to the Mailchimp interface. Currently, these tools are accessible through different interfaces.
When should you choose Mandrill? Since you can’t purchase Mandrill as a separate tool, it only makes sense to use it for those who need the Mailchimp email marketing platform.
Mailchimp Transactional Email is free for new users for up to 500 emails – before you exceed the limit, the demo period will not expire. Paid plans start at $20 per 25,000 emails/month. But to access the add-on, you also need to be a user of Mailchimp’s Standard ($17/month) or Premium plan ($299/month).
As we’ve already stressed, the pricing plans make Mandrill a viable option only for Mailchimp users.
Let’s see how Madrill’s features and pricing compare to alternative transactional email providers…
Sendinblue Email API is the best Mandrill alternative for multiple reasons.
No need to worry about emails reaching the spam folder. Sendinblue ensures high deliverability and open rates. With a dedicated IP address, you can be sure your emails will reach recipients’ inboxes without any delays. You can monitor the reputation of your IP from your dashboard.
For shared IP addresses, Sendinblue maintains a high sender reputation by detecting and removing fraudulent accounts timely.
We also offer an extensive library of the best practices for improving the deliverability of your emails.
You can access SMTP tools to send transactional emails fast and effortlessly.
No need to run your own mail server. Our user-friendly SMTP relay service is all you need to have great control over your dedicated IP address or a pool of IPs.
The SMTP platform is accessible in all plans – you can start sending large volumes of emails with optimal delivery from $22.50/month.
Our SMTP integrates with WordPress allowing you to enjoy the high deliverability of transactional emails from your WordPress website.
Sendinblue’s WordPress email plugin is built for marketers and business owners willing to configure WordPress SMTP settings without coding skills.
Furthermore, our drag-and-drop editor enables users to build forms for WordPress websites, integrate them effortlessly, and deliver the best UX for site visitors.
Apart from WordPress, the platform integrates with a range of ecommerce platforms, like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and others.
Limited log retention is a common problem users of transactional email services face. That’s not the case for Sendinblue users.
Whenever you want to review the performance data for a specific SMTP email, you can visit your account Log and view all the necessary information about its status. Your message data is stored for the life of your account, without any limits.
For storing the records outside the Sendinblue interface, log export is available.
Our performance dashboard displays real-time statistics informing you of the status of the emails and how recipients interact with them.
Delivery status, open and click-through reports, click maps – you’ll access the critical data in real-time. Due to unlimited log retention, you can also follow performance trends over time and identify opportunities for improving transactional sending.
For a top-level overview, the dashboards create graphs visualizing transactional statistics. You can dive as deep into your email performance as you want.
Sendinblue as a Mandrill alternative doesn’t limit its features to transactional email. It’s a comprehensive sales and marketing solution that includes tools for marketing automation, pipeline management, customer relationship management, advertising, SMS marketing, and many more.
Mailchimp integrates with a tool called SimpleTexting to enable SMS marketing through the platform, which means you need to sign up for three tools to use the integration (first, Mailchimp, then Mandrill, and lastly, SimpleTexting). In contrast, Sendinblue allows you to send targeted SMS notifications through the platform – you can purchase credits alongside your selected Sendinblue plan.
Transactional SMS messages are set up through the platform’s interface, API, or one of the available plugins.
At the moment, Mandrill is a separate tool. Although you do have to buy Mailchimp’s plan to have a chance to use Mandrill, the add-on has a separate interface.
Inside Sendinblue, you access all its features from one interface. You don’t need to switch between the tools to launch a newsletter campaign and set up transactional emails.
One more reason Sendinblue is a better alternative to Mandrill is pricing.
First of all, Sendinblue has a forever-free plan, and Mandrill doesn’t. In the free plan, users can send up to 300 emails/day and use SMTP service as well as core API features.
Paid plans begin at $25/20,000 emails per month. They include marketing tools, no daily sending limit, and A/B testing functionality atop features available on a free plan.
Sendinblue’s pricing model is built in a way to allow you to only pay for the features that you need. For instance, you won’t need to buy the most expensive plan to get a dedicated IP address – you can add it to your selected plan.
If you want to access advanced transactional email features and avoid overpaying, Sendinblue is the best alternative to Mandrill.
Mailgun is a dedicated transactional email automation service. It’s the best Mandrill alternative for users that don’t need email marketing services.
Mailgun’s robust set of APIs allows developers and tech-savvy marketers to build scalable delivery infrastructure. Alongside SMTP relay service, Mailgun includes functionality for setting up webhooks, inbound email routing, email tracking and analytics, etc.
Mind that the tool is built for developers and its learning curve is high for non-tech people. The lack of functionality for exporting logs or at least retaining them for more than 30 days also should be taken into account. If you want to keep track of your transactional email performance, Mailgun isn’t the best option.
Mailgun offers a 3-month long free trial with access to 5,000 emails per month. Paid plans start at $35/month.
Mailjet is an email marketing platform that has been acquired by Mailgun. The product isn’t included in any of Mailgun’s plans, but it combines transactional email and marketing automation features.
The platform has plugins and integrations with major CRM tools and ecommerce platforms. It also supports different programming frameworks and languages, including PHP, Ruby, Java, and others.
As a full-stack marketing automation platform, Mailjet offers a variety of features for effortless campaign management:
You can send up to 6,000 emails per month and use APIs, SMTP relay, and webhooks for free. Paid plans start at $15/month. Higher pricing tiers grant access to segmentation, sub-accounts, advanced statistics, and more exclusive features.
Netcore Email API, formerly Pepipost, is another suitable alternative to Mandrill.
Its APIs and webhooks allow users to send high volumes of emails, set up real-time email delivery and click tracking, and run spam compliance checks.
Pepipost guarantees lightning-fast email delivery and decent delivery rates. Yet users tend to complain about the platform’s interface and the lack of visual representation of email performance.
Pepipost is probably the most affordable Mandrill alternative. You can send up to 150,000 emails per month for only $17.5. The first 30,000/month are included in a 30-day free trial.
Like Sendinblue, SendGrid is an all-in-one email marketing platform. Transactional email service is only a part of the functionality you’ll access inside the tool.
However, to use both email API and marketing automation features, you need to purchase two separate plans. Sending other types of emails apart from transactional will double the cost of the solution.
Nonetheless, SendGrid is considered the world’s leading transactional and marketing email platform for its robust REST API and SMTP.
Email API package offers insightful analytics, 30 days of email activity history, dedicated IP addresses, delivery optimization tools, and more.
Both Email API and Marketing Campaign Plans are available for free. The paid plans start at $14.95/month. In the Email API plan, you’re granted API access, SMTP relay, webhooks, and top-notch analytics functionality.
Amazon SES stands for Simple Email Service and is considered the simplest solution for sending transactional emails to Amazon customers.
It supports transactional and bulk email sending without the fluff. The tool is designed for developers, and you should know that it doesn’t offer an intuitive interface. Other than SMTP, Amazon offers two more sending options: the Amazon SES console and the Amazon SES API.
Implementing the Amazon SES solution might take time, but the effort is justified by low costs and high deliverability.
Amazon SES Pricing
The prices depend on different factors, like user location and hosting. The pay-as-you-go model means that you don’t have to pay set fees. It’s best to use AWS Pricing Calculator to estimate the cost of Amazon SES for your specific case.
Last but not least, meet SocketLabs – an SMTP service and marketing automation platform for tech-savvy specialists. Inside the platform, you’ll find an SMTP relay service as well as a transactional email API.
Quick-start code libraries for a variety of frameworks and languages allow developers to integrate SocketLabs with stand-alone applications in no time.
Top-notch support, unlimited contact storage, high delivery rates, and decent sender reputation – it’s all about SocketLabs. Users say there’s room for improving logging and monitoring functionality though.
SocketLabs offers a 30-day free trial with up to 40,000 email credits per month. When the trial period expires, you can choose between the Core ($39.95/month), Pro ($79.95/month), and Concierge (starting at $889/month) plans. This isn’t the cheapest Mandrill alternative, but it’s definitely one of the most reliable transactional email services.
When searching for a transactional email service provider, you’ll find solutions for every taste and wallet. Your choice totally depends on your skills, needs, and business size. If you aren’t willing to invest time or resources in implementing an overcomplicated solution, Sendinblue will be a sufficient option for you and your team.
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