For years Mailchimp has been the king in email marketing. And if you asked me who you should use for your email marketing, I would have recommended them. But things change. Mailchimp has made it clear recently that they’re pivoting beyond email – with a focus on being central to all small business marketing.
They’ve launched new products – and most recently launched a website builder (ours is better!). While this may be useful to many customers, this has put off a lot of people who have relied on Mailchimp for just email marketing. They’ve also recently raised prices again and continue to regularly raise prices, making them one of the most expensive email marketing platforms.
There are alternatives. Here’s our round-up for six Mailchimp alternatives that might work, depending on your business needs.
SendGrid started off as a transactional email API service – for sending order confirmations, shipping notifications, password resets, etc. It’s grown and evolved from that to offering email marketing as well with a customized email builder. If your biggest concern is deliverability, then SendGrid is probably your best bet as they are one of the most trusted email senders after Mailchimp. Their pricing is based on volume and will change as your list size change. But generally, they’re about 1/2 the price of Mailchimp. But their free plan has most of their key features and goes up to 2,000 contacts.
Mailjet offers both Email Marketing and an API for transactional emails. Based in Europe, it’s a service built on European ideals of privacy and security. They have a slick email builder and an easy to use interface. Like most of these services, they have a free tier. Their service levels are based on email volume and not contact list size. So you pay for the volume you need, rather than how many subscribers you have. This can be attractive to those with very large lists who only email a few times a month. For example, you can send 150,000 emails a month for around $70 or €60.
Mailerlite does not offer transactional emails, but they have by far my favourite email builder of all the ones I tested in researching this post. It makes inserting RSS feeds for content websites a breeze. You can build good looking emails in no time at all. You can try it free up to 1,000 subscribers, then the price goes up on a sliding scale as your list grows. It’s not particularly cheap, the pricing is lower than Mailchimp, but not by much. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, this probably isn’t it. Still, it’s worth considering for its great email builder (and in fact, you can use the builder for free, and use any service to send your emails).
Sensorpro is Irish-owned and based in a Dublin data centre. Designed to promote business all over the world, Sensorpro is the perfect email platform for businesses of all sizes. They have a handy email template builder but also a great selection of templates to choose from. They also have the ability to handle surveys. They also have a full-service API for transactional emails. Pricing is based on a sliding scale, new accounts are free up to 2,500 subscribers.
Mailpoet is a ‘roll your own’ solution to email sending if you use WordPress as your content management or e-commerce platform. It’s a WordPress plugin that integrates directly with your website and allows you to set up automated email campaigns for new posts, create newsletters and manage your lists. It’s a pretty all-in-one solution for emails if you use WordPress. It’s also a lot more affordable than paying for a monthly service (if you don’t buy theirs). You have two options – you can get a single site license (starting at €149 for 1 site for one year) or you can sign up for their sending service, which will have pricing based on how many subscribers you have (notice a trend here?). I find the pricing for their sending service to be quite expensive, to be honest. But you can still buy the plugin on its own and do your own sending. However, one big caveat here, you cannot rely on your webserver to do the sending for you. It will overload most shared hosting servers and you can run into deliverability issues since you’re not a trusted email sender – ending up in SPAM folders will be disastrous and you’ll make your host cross (we don’t like to be cross). So, you’ll need a third party sending service like Amazon SES or Sendgrid.
I’m a little biased here, as Sendy is my new favourite email service. Sendy is self-hosted email software that you run on your own server. It’s designed to work with AmazonSES, which is Amazon ’s Simple Email Service (but you can also use it with any SMTP sending service). Amazon is one of the most trusted companies on the planet and their SES service is part of Amazon Web Services. It does one thing, and one thing only, it sends actual emails. Sendy interfaces with AmazonSES to manage the actual sending on an API level. The best part of it is the price – it’s a flat $59 for the software from Sendy, which you need to run on your own server (shared hosting might not cut it as it’s resource intensive). Then you simply pay AmazonSES for how many emails you send based on $0.10 per 1,000 emails. It’s ridiculously cheap. Sendy is about as easy to install as WordPress, so if you can do that, you can setup Sendy. I had it up and running in a few hours. It provides basic tracking of opens, unsubscribes, link tracking, etc (which you can turn off if you don’t want to track anything). It manages your lists and integrates with plenty of third-party plugins via an easy to use API. The only major downside here is that you have to build your emails elsewhere, there isn’t a built-in email builder (I hope this changes). You have to use the free version of Mailchimp or Mailerlite to build your emails (and be sure to remove any branding and list management links) and paste the source code into Sendy. It’s a bit more hands-on, but if you want to go from paying say almost €300 a month at Mailchimp to about €25, then Sendy might work for you.
What’s your favourite email service? Let us know in the comments!