Is Mandrill Done? 5 Alternatives for Your Transactional Email

TL;DR: Mandrill wanted to raise their prices 4x. They found a way to do that by merging with MailChimp. Here are some Mandrill alternatives.

I know I know … I sound like a click-baity BuzzFeed headline, sorry.

But that’s, more or less, the case.

Btw if you are in hurry and looking for the best alternative, take a look at SendinBlue .

The backstory:

Mandrill is was probably the perfect solution for sending transactional email. For instance, if you have a website that needs this sort of functionality (e.g an eCommerce store) or an app, you can use Mandrill for one-to-one communication with your customers.

Think, reminding people of their passwords, sending info regarding their purchases, etc.

But.

All of a sudden, Mandrill has decided to merge back with MailChimp (originally, Mandrill was a startup within MailChimp, but operating independently, with their own model, databases, prices, etc.), and while doing so, they’ve basically forced their users to start spending up to 4x as much for the service.

Here’s how it plays out:

  • The standard plan with Mandrill used to be $9.95 / month, which allowed you to send up to 25,000 transactional emails.
  • After the merge, Mandrill will only be available as a paid add-on for paid MailChimp accounts. The cheapest MailChimp account is $20 (which really is waaaaay too expensive for the possibilities it gives you – we talked about this a while ago). Once you have MailChimp, the cheapest block of Mandrill credits will be sold for $20 / month.
  • In total, to keep using Mandrill, you’ll have to spend $40 / mo instead of $10.

The important part is that there’s no way around this. If you want to keep using Mandrill, you need to move to a paid MailChimp account, and then buy the add-on access.

mandrillapp-info

Mandrill alternatives

If the new asking price sounds a bit much for your taste, here are the alternatives:

1. SendinBlue

sendinblue
Full disclosure; we’ve been using SendinBlue for everything in camp CodeinWP. Marketing email, drip campaigns, and transactional email as well.

SendinBlue can basically do all of that stuff, and even let you send SMS messages if you’re up for this kind of marketing. The APIs are there, the integration is easy to grasp, and you get detailed reporting. Most importantly, at this point, it’s also way more affordable than Mandrill, making it a great alternative.

Or pick one of the paid plans:

  • 40,000 emails / mo for $7.37.
  • 60,000 for $39 / mo.
  • 120,000 for $66 / mo.

You can learn more about SendinBlue here.

2. Mailjet

mailjet
Mailjet is a really user-friendly solution, focusing on making both the marketer’s work and the developer’s work easier. The transactional component of Mailjet is designed in a way that lets the marketer work with the templates for the emails (change the designs, content, whatever) without messing up the software integration created by the developer.

Here’s a quick video:

Price-wise, Mailjet looks quite good:

  • Send up to 200 emails / day for free (6000 / mo).
  • 30,000 monthly for $7.49.
  • 60,000 for $21.95

3. SendGrid

sendgrid
SendGrid prides itself on the fact that they were built as an API company from the ground up. Basically, the whole system is built around the idea that it’s going to be integrated with other websites, apps and software solutions.

Used by companies such as Airbnb, Spotify, even Uber, so perhaps it will serve you as well. SendGrid also gives you access to a range of guides, webcasts and video tutorials.

Price-wise:

  • 12,000 monthly emails for free.
  • 40,000 for $9.95 (“Essentials” plan).
  • 100,000 for $19.95 (“Essentials” plan).
  • 100,000 for $79.95 (“Pro” plan – includes a dedicated IP and some other features).
  • 300,000 for $199.95.
  • 700,000 for $399.95.

4. Mailgun

mailgun
A solution that’s very similar to SendGrid, but is much more affordable, and especially if you only need to send a small number of emails per month. Under the hood, Mailgun has API integration, and a quite easy-to-use sending infrastructure. (Although, for instance, Mailjet is much better at handling custom email templates).

Price-wise:

  • 10,000 monthly emails for free.
  • Up to 500,000 emails for $0.00050 each. So:
    • 20,000 for $5.
    • 50,000 for $20.
    • 100,000 for $45.
    • 200,000 for $95.

5. Amazon SES

ses
Nothing beats Amazon when it comes to their price per email and their deliverability. At the same time, integrating the platform with your tool or site can take more time. Alternatively, you can use an outside solution that acts as the middle man between you and Amazon. For instance, Sendy does this for marketing email.

Price-wise:

  • 62,000 monthly emails for free.
  • After that, it’s basically $0.0001 per email.

WordPress?

If you’ve previously used wpMandrill to integrate with your Mandrill account, you might want to consider changing it as well.

For example, you can check out a plugin called WP Mail SMTP. It reconfigures the wp_mail() function to use SMTP instead of mail(). You can integrate it with one of the solutions listed above, and maybe manage to keep the modifications to a minimum after ditching wpMandrill.

Also, feel free to look into Pirate Forms – Contact Form and SMTP Plugin. It offers some SMTP capabilities as well, but in the contact form realm (delivering the emails from the visitors to you).

Staying with Mandrill?

What do you think about this whole cash grab? Or maybe you’re staying with Mandrill anyway?

 UPDATE:  SparkPost?

One more option. As pointed out by one of the commenters – link.

 UPDATE:  SocketLabs?

Another alternative. Pointed out by one of the commenters – link.

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  • Jerm

    You forgot Sparkpost… leader in transactional deliverability according to independent study and they’re very dev-friendly in my experience

    https://developers.sparkpost.com/

    • Karol K.

      Thanks for the suggestion! Included.

  • FYI – SendGrid has a free plan as well, which allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month.

    • Karol K.

      Thanks for pointing it out. I updated the post.

  • Thanks for putting this together. Staying with Mandrill will not be an option for a lot of user.

    • Karol K.

      Yeah, going from $120 / year to $480 / year doesn’t seem like a bargain.

      • If you use just the free quota of 12,000 emails per month (and if you use Mandrill just for transitional purpose that should be well enough for most people), then it’s actually jump from $0 forever to $480 per year. So, not even a fair compare. And MailChimp knows it, look at end of their blog post or email – “We know this is disruptive…”. So they know what they are doing.

        • Karol K.

          Good point. Overall, what this basically means is that Mandrill is mostly done, and anyone who can afford migrating their software to another API will do so.

        • Saulo Sobanski

          I know that hey had their reasons, but I’m kinda felling “cheated” by Mandrill. It was a bad move for their customers.

  • Andrew B.

    It looks like I’m searching for a new provider because “Mailchimp Transactional” isn’t going to allow me to send marketing content anymore.

    My take on this ultimately is that Mandrill was always just the little brother of Mailchimp. When they brought Mandrill to market, it was just an experiment. The experiment wasn’t quite as fruitful as they had hoped.

    When looking at a new provider I’m choosing someone whose primary business is email inftrastructure. This means either Sendgrid, SocketLabs, or Sparkpost. I’m going to stay away Mailgun (little brother of Rackspace) and AmazonSES to make sure this doesn’t happen to me again.

    I’ve never heard of SendInBlue, can anyone else recommend them?

    • Karol K.

      Not being able to send marketing content in your transactional email is a hit too.

      But I doubt anything like this can happen with Amazon. … Unless they create a sub-product of some kind specifically for this sort of email.

      When it comes to SendinBlue, they’re a newcomer to the market. We’ve been using them for all of our email newsletters, drip campaigns and etc. Overall, I can’t complain in any way. It’s affordable and works good.

  • Who has the most flexible terms of use and acceptable use policy? Even if you were willing to pay for MailChimp addon Mandrill their acceptable use policy is way too restrictive.

    • Karol K.

      I think that’s going to be either SES or Mailjet. Mailjet is quite friendly towards marketing people anyway.

  • I totally understand that they want to make money, but this is just alienating existing users. Bad for business all around. They really could have put more thought and attention into migrating. I wouldn’t be so against paying a basic monthly fee for a well rounded service, but not only what are they doing crass, but a destructive move to their existing user base. I don’t feel comfortable with a company that would “force” all these upgrades to continue to do business or even recommend them. It’s just bad marketing, and lack of intuitive migration on their part.
    TSK TSK Mail Chimp…(Who’s the monkey now?)

    • Karol K.

      They probably don’t care as much about Mandrill overall. With the previous price tag, the tool probably didn’t bring this much revenue in comparison to the standard MailChimp plans. They might feel safe driving it into the ground, as the loss wouldn’t be big anyway.

      • It would have made more financial sense to sell it off. There was no warning about this change to pricing for users, which leads me to think it has become a large liability, but with great potential. The product is too valuable to lose. They waited too long to make this change, and when it did happen, it was too drastic.

    • Saulo Sobanski

      They’re betting on their best horse, but that isn’t good for their “free users”. It’s kinda ironic that Mailchimp is getting bad marketing from their actions, isn’t it?

      • It is ironic – It is making me consider Aweber all over again, which is more expensive, but WAY more honest and trustworthy in my eyes now. My company has to begin moving client accounts away from Mandrill, and most likely away from MailChimp too. Trust has gone WAY down.

        • Karol K.

          Aren’t you considering a cheaper solution, like Amazon, for example?

          • My comment was for MailChimp’s email newsletter capabilities and how the company itself looks after the change with Mandrill. It isn’t a matter of cost, but of convenience and features.

    • Justin Weeks

      Hey David, you seem really knowledgable about all of this stuff. I did however wonder how you can be so successful as far as putting the right products online. My personal opinion is that you bully/ threaten/ and try to intimidate Amazon users so you yourself have the lowest prices. You pretended to be a representative of a manufacturer that you have been pimping on this very blog. You sent me a message stating that you worked for them, when I questioned the legitimacy of of your employment, I received no response. You then sent a 3rd and final request threatening us. When I asked for your credentials yet again you did not answer. Then you ordered the same product that you said I had to meet the pricing requirements. We cancelled the order and hurt our metrics because I knew that you were going to send it back/ claim something weird. You then left a review about the product on our feedback. Amazon took it down though. You ordered the same product yet again and just put a return on it for us, claiming it was a knock off even though we both know that’s not true. You obviously used a wrong name, but your actual number which seems silly to me. I even called you David, asked for Gary and you said he was unavailable. Now I’ve had Amazon about a month, I’m carrying a product from a wholesaler so and meeting the price requirements. I ask you in front of your peers, how do new sellers like me make it when more established sellers like yourself pull these little games so I have bad metrics reviews? How am I suppose to compete? Please let me know as I’m brand new to this, and your claiming to be this marketing guru but really you brow beat people. That’s just not good karma man. But that’s Get Found Marketings phone number, and I talked to you… So that’s not very professional.

      • Hey Justin, lets point out a few things beforehand.

        1 – this is not a venue for this rant

        2 – your opinion is just that, an opinion

        3 – if you would like information on how to legitimately sell a product online, then there are classes for that.

        4 – I am personally not a seller

        I have nothing to hide “In front of my peers”

        So I will make this short and sweet and you can continue this directly with a phone call.

        We’re hired by the manufacturer to enforce MAP.

        I had our team kindly request MAP alignment 4 times and you chose to ignore it. Basically skeptically questioning the request from an official domain.

        Everyone selling the product has to adhere to MAP. And everyone would be treated the same.

        I answered the phone and you asked for Gary. And he wasn’t available and I asked you if I could help you, and then you hung up.

        There is no browbeating here. If you don’t want to play by the rules, then don’t get angry when the hammer comes down.

        Because honestly, that’s not very professional.

        Feel free to reach out directly, and I’d be more than happy to point you in the correct direction.

        • Justin Weeks

          1. I didn’t hang up, I said I would try to call him back at another time.
          2. Why would you buy the exact product in which we can’t sell.
          3. You sent 2 messages, both which are captured on Amazon so don’t fib.
          4. When I asked for legitimacy of employment we received no messages back.
          5. There is no hammer, I just started selling I have nothing to lose
          6. You’re already on ripoff report for das cheap so your ethics are already called into question by 41 REVIEWS!!
          7. Why would “Gary” use your cell phone number?
          8. We can figure this out like 2 grown adults if you would like, but giving us negative feedback and returning the product is a poor start.

  • Patty Ayers

    I’m out. Impossible for a freelancer to afford.

    • JFGrissom

      FYI: Sparkpost (one of the new additions to the list) allows 100K emails to be sent per/month for free.

      • Daniel Loureiro

        Sparkpost is awful, they hate freelancers. I created an account there for a customer of mine, and it worked fine. Then, I created another account for a new customer and they suspended it. I asked why and they answered me that I was “circumventing” their policies (I set the accounts with my customers information and I used their domain emails, btw). They suggested me to upgrade to a paid version, with a sub-account feature, but it is useless. First because it’s paid, and secondly, because it’s unacceptable to a customer to have services registered in their freelancer accounts. So please, don’t even waste your time. This service is useless.

        • JFGrissom

          Hi Daniel,

          I believe your assessment is pretty unfair. (No I don’t work for Sparkpost, I’m just a customer.)

          I’ve been using it for my own stuff.

          And for my clients:
          I have the client setup the account and delegate access to me.

          I don’t see how what you’re saying here is valid.

          The service is FAR from useless.

          Sparkpost SHOULD RIGHTLY have a way to enforce their policy because they are actually providing a valuable service.

          How you get from “I didn’t read their terms and conditions” to “this service is useless” seems to be your fault not theirs.

    • Maybe not impossible for a freelancer.. but definitely impractical when there are so many great free alternatives. Curious as to what you are switching to?

  • jfarsen

    I would suggest mentioning which of these alternative services provide a native WordPress plugin on .org, as some do and they seem popular (downloads) and well rated.

    Also, I don’t understand recommending a 1-yr old plugin (WP Mail SMTP) that’s only showing compatible up to WordPress 4.0.x 🙁

    • Karol K.

      That plugin works with 4.4 too.

    • David Thibault

      I’m using wp mail SMTP with wp 4.4 and Amazon SES and it works great.

    • Sendgrid seems the best option for WordPress at the moment.

  • This free script may help those that want to migrate. It uses both Mailgun & SendGrip API’s allowing you to leverage both http://gosmartsolutions.github.io/mandrill-alternative/

  • Hi, I would like to see SocketLabs added to the list. SocketLabs has helping its customers deliver transactional and marketing email since 2007, and currently delivers billions of email messages per year. It’s does a lot of the things that Mandrill does and more, but really focuses on providing top notch support, managed delivery and working very closely with customers. And as Andrew B points out below, email infrastructure is its primary business.

    • Karol K.

      Thanks for the suggestion! Included.

      • Thanks Karol!

      • Hi Karol, I added a hyperlink to my comment above yesterday, and it is now stuck in moderation. Can you please help with that?

        • Karol K.

          Hi John. I don’t see your comment in the moderation queue for some reason. Looks like it’s already approved, yet it doesn’t appear here.

          Anyway, if you noticed, I edited the post itself a couple of days ago, and it does link to Socket Labs directly.

          • That’s weird. I just edited it again to see if I could nudge it along. It says: “Hold on, this is waiting to be approved by Codeinwp blog.” If that does not work, maybe I will just try adding the entire post again for visibility. Thanks for the help.

  • Karol K.

    Do they allow marketing content inside transactional emails?

    • Zach

      I’m not sure, i’m emailing them now and see what they say.

  • Goran Ljubuncic

    I’m using Elastic Email. 25K free emails a month. I highly recommend them.

  • David Thibault

    WP Mail SMTP works out of the box with Amazon SES. You just have to enter the right mail server, encryption, and auth settings (all provided by SES mail settings in the SES console). I recommend going that route for sure for cost and reliability. Also I’m looking into ditching Aweber to use Mautic, which is free open source email and social marketing automation. It looks like it has more features than Aweber at first glance, and I would imagine it would be a great free replacement for mail chimp as well. Also, mautic has a WordPress plugin, so integration is pretty easy.

    • David Thibault

      And I’m not an employee of any of these companies.

    • Karol K.

      That’s actually a great suggestion! Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks, I will consider your suggestion.

  • John Colban

    Hi All, looking for a Mandrill alternative and had a question.. Does SendInBlue require domain verification? We send mail on behalf of hundreds of our clients from their own domains, so verifying all of them would next to impossible. I was looking at SparkPost but seems they require verifyed domains, as well as Amazon. Would love thoughts/suggestions from the community on this.

    • You can do this at Mailgun, but some emails wont work as good.

  • RobbyZ

    Felt really good to close out my account today. Nearly 3M mails sent with them, happy to be taking my business elsewhere. Pay-for-usage is a much fairer business model then this subscription nonsense.

  • bravodillo

    That’s weird. I was used to send 100,000 email with Mandrill, about 3 times per year. So I spent in those rare occasions just $30, so in the whole year, $90. Now they ask me to pay $475 per month! Yes, for 90,000 to 100,000 users, that’s the price. Even if I don’t send email at all. I think they wanted to get rid of the small clients. So I do.

  • Dong Xiaoxi

    I only use transactional emails for my website. It is way too expensive after the merge. I will stay with MailChimp for a month while I am testing alternatives….

  • Daniel Loureiro

    SendGrid doesn’t have a free tier anymore 🙁

  • Daniel Loureiro

    SendinBlue: There’s a quota of 40 emails/day. Be aware that if you reach this limit, your account will be “suspended” and you will be required to buy a dedicated IP (~$140/year). There’s no way to revert this.

    While you won’t be actually “suspended” (you will not see this word mentioned on your account), your daily quota will be set to zero indefinitely (read “forever”). In practical terms this corresponds to a suspension.

    This happened to me due a spam attack. I have a website with a “Get in touch” form, where customers can send an email through the website. Unfortunately a spammer found it and sent me 200 emails in a single day (CSRF is enabled, btw). As consequence I not only received a lot of spam in my mailbox, but SendinBlue “suspended” my account.

    _DISCLAIMER: I know, it is on their usage terms. They have the right to write whatever terms they want, and I’m not complaining about it. If they state that you are not allowed send emails while wearing a blue hat, they have the right to do it. No need to remember me about that, nor to say that it was my fault that I didn’t read their terms. I’m just highlighting a TOS item that I think it’s very important._