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The Ultimate Guide to Mailchimp Transactional Email Alternatives

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I took the time to test out Mailchimp Transactional Email alternatives so I’ll give you a detailed guide through the top contenders and what to look for when migrating from Mandrill.

The main focus is on email delivery services that can provide reliable inbox placement. But as a lot of contenders evolved into platforms, I’ll detail other features you could find useful without burning a hole in your pocket. 

Disclaimer: The reviews include feature descriptions, software catalog ratings, and references to pricing. These were valid at the time of writing but could be subject to change. 

Mailchimp Transactional Email alternatives: snapshot

  1. Mailtrap is an email delivery platform great for dev and QA teams to test, send, and control their emails in one place. 
  2. SendGrid is a cloud-based service that provides email delivery and marketing solutions, including sending transactional and marketing emails. 
  3. Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a developer-centric email service designed to help devs send marketing and transactional emails. 
  4. Mailgun is an email service aimed at providing developers with tools to send, receive, and track transactional emails through an API and SMTP. 
  5. Mailjet is a cloud-based email service that offers solutions for sending and managing transactional and marketing emails. 

Criteria for choosing the best Mailchimp Transactional Email alternatives

I identified four key criteria based on the critical parameters such as deliverability and potential desire to scale beyond just sending transactional emails. Here’s what they are:

  • Email deliverability

The core function of a transactional email service is to ensure your emails get sent and also successfully land in your recipients’ inboxes, avoiding the spam folder. 

Note: Keep in mind that email deliverability also depends on your domain and sender reputation. 

  • Ease of integration and service flexibility

Your chosen email service should seamlessly integrate with your current systems, whether it’s your WordPress website, CRM, e-commerce platform, or custom-built applications. 

  • Pricing structure and scalability

An ideal Mandrill alternative will offer a pricing plan that’s competitive and also scales with your business. 

It means the service should provide transparent pricing, without hidden upsales. Plus, the price needs to correlate with the sending volume (the more you send the incrementally higher the price). 

Tip: Check the number of emails per plan 🙂 Compare the cost per thousand emails sent across different providers to understand which offers the best value for your specific email volumes.

  • Customer support

The availability and quality of customer support can make a significant difference. Ideally, you’d get 24/7 access to support to resolve urgent issues. Or, at least, something close to the ability to get a response at any time. 

Best alternative: Mailtrap Email Sending 

Free plan: Available 

Pricing from: $10 

G2: 4.8 Capterra: 4.9

What is Mailtrap?

Mailtrap is an Email Delivery Platform designed for both businesses and individuals. It is an all-in-one solution to seamlessly Test, Send, and Control your email infrastructure. 

Here, I’ll mainly focus on Mailtrap Email Sending as it’s the closest comparison to Mandrill. But, I’ll also briefly cover Mailtrap Email Testing as a key pre-production solution to ensure your emails land in recipients’ inboxes, not the spam folder. 

Mailtrap Email Sending is designed to provide developers with a robust infrastructure, boasting high deliverability rates by default and design. 

Plus, Mailrap Email Sending offers two sending streams – Transactional and Bulk. It allows you to send bulk emails (newsletters, product offers, marketing emails) at the price of transactional. And both streams have a dedicated SMTP server and API. 

Note that sending marketing emails with Mandrill is not an option. You’d have to purchase an additional Mailchimp plan for that.  

Key features:

  • Smooth and secure setup: All necessary DNS Records provided. Tailored for experienced and less tech-savvy users, you can have a seamless integration experience.

  • Flexible integration solutions: Choose between SMTP for quick integration and Email API for enhanced flexibility. Mailtrap offers SDKs for Python, PHP, Node.js, Ruby, and Elixir, facilitating the integration that saves dev time.
  • Actionable in-depth analytics: Get insights into delivery, open, click, and bounce rates, as well as spam complaints with features like a helicopter view dashboard, drill-down reports, and extended email logs. 

  • Deliverability alerts: Stay on top of your email infrastructure with deliverability alerts, including weekly reports and critical alerts for sudden metrics drops.

  • Detailed mailbox provider reports: Unlike most competitors, Mailtrap provides in-depth stats for each major mailbox provider, including Google Workspace, Gmail, Office 365, Outlook, etc. 

  • Email category reports: Understand the effectiveness of each email type – be it password changes, invoices, or confirmations – with dedicated reports. This allows for immediate identification and resolution of any issues with specific templates. Or you can use it to run A/B tests and see which template performs better. 

  • Comprehensive Email Logs and Previews: Depending on your plan, you can view up to 60 days of email history, including email content previews.  

  • Dedicated email testing solution: Mailtrap Email Testing is an email sandbox to inspect and debug emails in staging, dev, and QA environments before sending them to recipients. You can inspect HTML/CSS to debug email templates, and check the spam score. It offers REST API for QA automation, and there are ready-made integrations for 20+ languages. 

Pros

  • Straightforward setup (SMTP or API) 
  • Transactional and Bulk streams within one service 
  • Webhooks
  • Email templates
  • Mailbox provider reports

Cons

  • Mailtrap Email Campaigns in Beta 

Alternative 2: SendGrid

Free plan: Available 

Pricing from: $14.95

G2: 4.0 Capterra: 4.2 

What is it?

SendGrid, now part of Twilio, is a cloud-based platform that offers transactional and email marketing services. At its core, SendGrid provides an API and SMTP relay for developers looking to integrate email functionality into their applications. 

Known for its scalability, SendGrid can cater to businesses of all sizes, from startups to large enterprises. However, it requires a certain level of technical expertise to integrate it into your email delivery infrastructure.  

Pros:

  • API and SMTP integration: SendGrid’s API allows relatively straightforward integration with existing applications (assuming you’re a dev). And it supports custom email workflows and automation. 
  • Scalability: Capable of handling high volumes of emails, SendGrid can scale with your business. 

Cons:

  • Pricing can be steep for high-volume senders: Costs can escalate quickly for businesses with large email volumes, especially when they need advanced features.
  • Complexity for beginners: The vast array of features and settings can overwhelm beginners or small teams without dedicated IT support. This is particularly apparent in the email analytics menu that has close to twenty submenus. 
  • Customer support: Depending on your plan, you can expect variable support levels and response times.

Alternative 3: Amazon SES

Free plan: Available 

Pricing from: $0.10 per 1000 emails

G2: 4.3 Capterra: 4.7 

What is it?

Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is a cloud-based email-sending service designed to help 

app developers send marketing, notification, and transactional emails. It’s known for its cost-effectiveness and reliable mail servers, making it a popular choice for startups and large enterprises.

However, I need to discuss SES use cases in greater detail to give you a better understanding of what it takes to integrate it and what to expect. 

While Amazon SES is the service for high-volume email sending and applications requiring robust email functionality, its limitations lie in its user interface and lack of built-in advanced marketing features. 

So, it’s best suited for developers and businesses that already use AWS services and are comfortable with technical setups or those with bespoke needs that require custom development.

In other words, you need to factor in the cost of extra dev time to set up, test, and run everything with SES. Also, if you want more comprehensive email marketing tools with detailed analytics, you’ll need to integrate Amazon SES with third-party applications or services.

Note: Similar to Mailchimp, AWS services also support SMS. 

Pros:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Amazon SES is among the most affordable, with a pricing model that allows users to pay for what they use without upfront costs.
  • Integration with Amazon EC2: For Amazon EC2 users, Amazon SES offers free usage up to a certain limit of emails (62K) sent per month when emails are sent from an EC2 instance. 
  • High deliverability: Leveraging AWS’s infrastructure, Amazon SES ensures high email deliverability rates.
  • Robust security: Amazon SES includes features such as content filtering, dedicated IP addresses, and authentication mechanisms like SPF and DKIM, enhancing the security and integrity of your email communications.

Cons:

  • Complex setup for beginners: The setup process and overall management of Amazon SES is complex for beginners or users unfamiliar with AWS services.
  • Basic features: While cost-effective and reliable, Amazon SES is more focused on email-sending capabilities and lacks the advanced marketing features (e.g., templates, and automated workflows) found in more specialized email marketing platforms.

Thank you for reading a snippet of the Mailtrap blog post on Mailchimp Transactional Email Alternatives, you will find more information in the original post.


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Veljko Ristic

Content Manager, Mailtrap

@veljkoristic
Linguist by trade, digital marketer at heart, I’m a Content Manager who’s been in the online space for 10+ years.
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