Trust is important when selecting cloud service providers because our business processes rely on these services. Mandrill, and by extension MailChimp, just broke our trust when it abruptly announced the imminent closure of its standalone transactional email service in late February. The death of Mandrill came into effect April 27.
Transactional email plays an important marketing function, and every business needs it. Smart businesses set triggers for automatic email responses based on customer actions, be it newsletter signup, visiting a product landing page or support portal, making a purchase, or abandoning a shopping cart.
There are a multitude of transactional email opportunities, and almost every business uses some form of transactional email. The best businesses use lots of automated transactional email to drive customer service and upsell opportunities, and transactional email gateways such as Mandrill make sure these emails arrive at their destination and are not marked as spam.
But Mandrill abruptly closed its doors as a standalone transactional email service so it could funnel more business to its email marketing platform, MailChimp. They removed the free plan and now require that businesses buy a paid MailChimp account and a Mandrill add-on to get the same functionality. This destroyed the transactional email process for many SMBs, and the company only gave its customers two months to look for an alternative.
Not cool, MailChimp. Really not cool.
Many businesses already have made the move to other transactional email services, including many Agile CRM users who used Mandrill for the email portion of their marketing automation strategy. But many businesses still are left in the lurch without a new platform for sending transactional email.
Here are Mandrill alternatives that we recommend. All interface with Agile CRM and its powerful contact automation features.
Some big names use SparkPost for transactional email: Twitter, PayPal, SalesForce. Mailchimp recommends SparkPost as the Mandrill replacement, too.
Since 2001, SparkPost has been building a solid reputation for deliverability, scalability, features, flexibility and speed, and the system reportedly sends roughly 3 trillion emails per year. It scores well for inbox placement and delivery rates, has consistent performance and real-time insight that SMBs can use for tracking email.
SparkPost is built on the Momentum platform, a renowned email system developed by SparkPost parent company, Message Systems. SparkPost has a Mandrill migration guide, and Agile CRM connects with the platform via Zapier.
Cost: $24.99 for 100,000 emails/month.
Built from the ground up as an email service meant for cloud service providers such as Agile CRM and others, SendGrid is widely respected and used by companies such as AirBnB, Spotify and Uber. Some have argued that it now focuses too much on large companies at the expense of SMBs, although we haven’t found that to be the case.
SendGrid offers a range of tutorials and webcasts for easy integration and use, and it comes with some of the best email analytics among its peers. Support is great, although integration and use still requires some technical skill.
Cost: $19.95 for 100,000 emails/month.
If price is a primary consideration (and when is it not?), Mailgun offers similar functionality as SendGrid but offers 10,000 free emails per month. Aimed at developers but still a viable option for SMBs, Mailgun has a simple pricing structure and lots of flexibility.
SMBs that feel burned by the closure of Mandrill can rest assured that Mailgun won’t pull similar stunts; it is owned by the large hosting provider with “fanatical service,” Rackspace.
Cost: $45 for 100,000 emails/month
Much of the cloud runs on Amazon’s infrastructure, and your transactional email can do the same with the retail and infrastructure giant’s Amazon SES service.
If price per email is your only consideration, you’ll find Amazon hard to beat (naturally). Also consistent with Amazon, however, its SES service is relatively Spartan and with few bells or whistles like analytics or an easy interface. You also cannot use dedicated IP addresses, and you’re only able to send emails from verified addresses. Consider Amazon SES as a cheap, bare-bones transactional email option.
Cost: $10 for 100,000 emails per month.
The shuttering of Mandrill as an independent service was not a good day for SMBs. For those who relied on Mandrill, the closure meant more work and a new integration. The good news, at least, is that there are plenty of alternatives for filling the gap.