So, what’s transactional email anyway? Let’s put it this way—you’ve probably gotten hundreds of these over the course of your Internet lifetime. These emails are triggered by an individual user’s action; they typically have subject lines such as “Just confirming your email address,” “Thanks for making an account with us,” or “Forgot your password? We didn’t!”
If your small business is ready to start sending these kinds of emails, you might want to give Mandrill a closer look. This transactional email platform, debuted by popular email marketing service MailChimp in 2012, is perfect for those who want to send large quantities of one-to-one emails for a reasonable price.
Who Uses Mandrill?
Mandrill currently serves over 500,000 customers. Notable users include Dailymotion, Envato, Iconosquare, SoundCloud, Trello and more. Mandrill’s website features a testimonial from SoundCloud’s product marketing manager, who refers to Mandrill as the “backbone” of SoundCloud’s email communications. A second testimonial from Envato’s software development manager notes that the service was “a breeze to implement, and has been extremely solid since.”
What Does Mandrill Do?
As an email infrastructure service, Mandrill sends both personalized e-commerce emails and action-triggered transactional emails. You can choose to send these messages through Mandrill API or SMTP integration, the latter of which makes it easy to switch over to Mandrill even if you’re already sending transactional emails (you just have to change your SMTP credentials). Some of the service’s other features include a globally distributed infrastructure, provision for multiple domains, searchable activity history, tracking options, auto-tagging, and a variety of customization options (tracking domains, reverse DNS, and more).
Who Are Mandrill’s Competitors?
Several other services on the market are Amazon SES, Mailjet, Mailgun, and SendGrid—each with their own unique set of features. Amazon offers a no-frills service with $.10/1,000 email pricing and lists clientele such as Duolingo and Ticketmaster. Mailjet features a 6,000-emails-per-month free tier, and MIT has a spot on their customer list. Mailgun, in turn, lets users send a max of 10,000 emails for free each month, serving companies such as GitHub, Lyft, and Slack. SendGrid has a 12,000/month free plan and provides services for Airbnb, Foursquare, Spotify, and Uber.
However, a quick scan through various tech comparison blogs christens Mandrill a winner over the others due to its wide array of features, with victories at Indiemark and IMTips and a tie with SendGrid at VentureHarbor.
How Much Does It Cost?
Every new Mandrill user receives 2,000 free trial sends. After those are used up, Mandrill charges a monthly fee of $9.95 for 25,000 emails. If your business needs more than that, higher volume is billed on a per-thousand-email basis with built-in discounts. Basically, the more you send, the greater your per-email savings. For example, 50,000 emails will run you $14.95/month, and 100,000 emails cost $24.95/month. High-volume emailers may want to consider the option of a dedicated IP for an additional monthly fee of $29.95.
Should You Use Mandrill?
Here’s the rundown: If you send a lot of emails, the pricing works in your favor. Additionally, Mandrill caters to any developer with an appreciation for “documentation, integrations, high delivery rates, webhooks, and analytics,” according to the company’s website. On the flipside, those who are a little shaky on their coding and API know-how may either want to brush up or look elsewhere. Mandrill also lacks a permanent free plan, in contrast to the majority of its competitors. But if you’re perpetually glued to your smartphone, note that Mandrill provides a well-reviewed mobile app with capabilities for monitoring email dispatch and troubleshooting if need be.
As you make your final decision, keep in mind that Mandrill’s developer really does know email. MailChimp has been around since 2001 and sends about 15 billion emails on a monthly basis—stats that are pretty hard to just brush aside. In addition, Mandrill is also the largest Email as Service platform on the market at present. If any of this wins you over, be sure to give that free trial a shot.