For a while, Mandrill has been popular among users, especially when it comes to sending transactional emails in bulk. Mandrill ensures timely delivery of your emails, as well as reduces the load on your own server, and does not require you to manage email from your infrastructure.
However, recently Mandrill announced that it will soon discontinue its free tier plan, and after March 16, new users can only register via MailChimp, not Mandrill. Plus, by April 27, all existing users will be required to merge their Mandrill accounts with MailChimp. You can read more about this development here.
MailChimp, the parent company behind Mandrill, is definitely a worthy name. However, it might not be feasible for many developers and users to pay for transactional emails, especially if the volume of emails being sent is not too high.
If you are looking for a free and reliable alternative that you can migrate to now that Mandrill will soon be gone, this roundup is meant for you. In this post, I have put together some of the best-known free transactional email alternatives.
Since MailChimp will still be offering paid plans for transactional emails, I will be focusing only on the free plans for the below-mentioned services.
Free Transactional Email Services
SendinBlue offers both email and text message delivery for marketing and transactional purposes. It comes with both custom API and plugins, as well as real-time statistics about your emails and SMS, and many other features.
The free plan lets you send up to 9,000 emails per month (no text messages on the free plan). There is no daily limit on the number of emails, however.
SendGrid is another extremely reliable and well-known service for sending marketing and transactional emails to your users. Aware of the trends, they have already set up a Mandrill migration section for folks who might be coming from Mandrill and/or MailChimp. They are claiming to be a “better alternative to Mandrill” — claims apart, they have a 10 percent discount if you sign up for any of their paid plans and abandon Mandrill on or before April 30.
That said, SendGrid’s Free plan lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month.
Owned by Rackspace, MailGun has been around in the marketing and transaction email world for quite a while. MailGun’s USP lies in its extremely simple pricing structure: there is just one major plan, and you pay for the amount of emails that you need to send.
Every month, the first 10,000 emails are free. So if you need fewer than 10,000 emails per month, MailGun is yours to use, free of cost. Thereafter, you pay for any additional emails that you need to send, and if a dedicated IP is required, it is billed separately. MailGun is used by the likes of GitHub, Stripe, and Slack.
Postmark specializes in transactional emails only (there are no personal mailing list or any other type of email plans), and claims to offer “100% inbox rates”. Plus, you also get 45 days of searchable sending history of your emails, with reports about bounce rates as well as spam reports, if any.
Postmark’s pricing structure is simple as well, and as a rule of thumb, they do not promote the use of dedicated IPs for sending emails. The first 25,000 emails that you send via Postmark are free.
Amazon Simple Email Service, or SES, lets you rely on the Amazon.com infrastructure to send your transactional and marketing emails. In terms of reliability, the name “Amazon” is big enough, and that might be impressive for many users. It used by the likes of HTC and Siemens.
The free plan of Amazon SES allows you to send up to 62,000 messages per month *if* you are calling Amazon SES from an Amazon EC2 instance.
Mailjet is another highly popular service that lets you send marketing and transactional emails and comes with its both SMTP Relay and support for custom APIs.
The free plan of Mailjet allows you to send up to 6,000 emails in a month, with a daily limit of maximum 200 emails per day. This can suffice for users who do not need to send a lot of transactional emails.
SparkPost is a marketing and transactional email service catered to suit the needs of developers. It comes with features such as real-time analytics, A/B Testing, and is used by brands such as Oracle, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. SparkPost have set up a migration guide for existing Mandrill customers, and are willing to honor Mandrill’s existing pricing structure for developers who migrate from Mandrill to SparkPost.
The Free plan of SparkPost lets you send maximum 100,000 emails per month.
Elastic Email is more of an SMTP Relay service that offers plans depending on the usage needs of your project. For example, if you are conducting a survey, you can use their survey plan (still in beta) that gives you transactional and marketing emails, as well as a survey software.
The free plan of Elastic Email lets you send up to 25,000 emails per month, with no daily limits.
Pepipost is a unique and lesser known offering in this genre. Unlike many other transactional email services, Pepipost bills you only for emails that are *not opened* by your users. In other words, say if you send 100 emails using Pepipost. Now, 70 of those emails are opened by your users. These 70 emails are “on the house,” that is, you will not be billed for these emails. The other 30, that remain not opened, are all you have to pay for.
Much like some other services on this list, Pepipost too has prepared a migration guide for existing Mandrill users. The free plan lets you send up to 25,000 emails per month.
This brings us to the end of this list about transactional email services that come with a free plan. Got any that I missed? Share it in the comments below!
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