Mandrill eliminates free tier. Looking for a free transactional email alternative?

Like many WordPress users, I use Mandrill to send outgoing emails (“transactional” emails like password resets) to make sure server resources aren’t being expended on unnecessary things. I also use it at WP Chat for notifications (like if someone @'s you, you’ve been getting an email about it sent by Mandrill if allowed by your preferences).

Mandrill just announced that they’re eliminating the free tier (which was previously 12k/emails per month) and rolling everything under the MailChimp brand. This will be effective on April 27, so Mandrill users have a couple months or so to make a decision.

I’m all for paying for high-quality services, but considering there are so many alternatives with similar free tiers that Mandrill had (that I don’t even come close to), it seems like a waste of money to stay with “MailChimp Transactional” (as they’re going to call it).

Remkus DeVries just published a nice roundup of transactional email alternatives in response to Mandrill’s announcement.

MailGun, SendGrid, MailJet, SendInBlue all appear to have a free monthly allotment of emails (MailJet and SendInBlue have a daily limit too). Some others have “all time” allotments, but I’d rather avoid those if other companies give you a fresh block of emails every month.

The AWS Free Tier of Amazon SES offers 62,000 messages per month when called from an EC2 instance, which blows the aforementioned companies’ free tiers out of the water, but sounds like a pain to call it from an EC2 instance if you don’t already have an EC2 instance in use.

Although if you do switch to SES, it looks like Human Made released a simple SES and WordPress integration plugin which should get you up and running pretty quickly.


I’ll never be one to knock someone for charging more money for something, but I have to say I’m a little confused by their decision. While I use MailChimp as well, the brand seems a bit kitschy. I personally liked the more refined branding of Mandrill, and its separation from MailChimp’s opt-in newsletter services.

In 3 short years, Mandrill grew to more than 800,000 users, reached an annual run rate of $12 million

I’m not sure of specifics, but their free tier must have been at least partially responsible for this growth mentioned. Why mess with a proven formula? I suppose time will tell how this decision pans out.


Anyway, how do you feel about MailChimp/Mandrill’s decision to eliminate the free tier of Mandrill and bake it into the MailChimp brand? If you were a user of Mandrill’s free tier, what do you plan to do? Pay MailChimp, or move to another service which still has a free tier?

What does WordPress natively use to send lost password e-mails and the sort? is it Mandrill? To be honest, I never thought of transactional e-mails much. They got sent, I was happy. Can’t you use the natively thing WP uses (if it’s not Mandrill).

You’re right that WordPress has some rudimentary mail sending capabilities built in, however most of the time the emails will get sent to spam or outright rejected because most people’s hosting environments are on a blacklist. Mandrill was a sort of middleman that people would use to send email. There’s a plugin out there that hijacks the wp_mail() function, sends the data to Mandrill, and then Mandrill will send the email on your behalf and it won’t go to spam.

If you run a site that allows user signups it’s almost a requirement to get a transactional email provider as to ensure the best delivery rates to all of your users.

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It’s hard to compare these service, as each one has some advantages and “fails”.
I used Mandrill a year ago for many websites, not impressed at all, and sometimes I experienced some delay of emails delivery.
I think Mandrill eliminated free tier few months ago, at least, when I tried it last year, free tier was not already there.

Currently, I use Sendgrid about one year and Mailgun few months without one issue. Mailgun is simply thing while SendGrid looks like a monster. Both services do their job, still feel more comfortable with Mailgun, as it’s simple without daily limit (just monthly limit).

I tried MailJet, but never got it, as I registered an account with the testing domain (subdomain) and what a pain with their support, to explain them, that if I want to test it, I will not do it on a live site. So I had no chance to try it live and don’t feel to try it again after this hassle.

It’s clearly that services around Amazon grow, so probably if my sites are hosted there, I consider that service.

I found that "transactional email service’ has just to work :slight_smile: That API send your request fast. Deliverability is more about settings how emails are sent and authentication - SPF, DKIM and things like that, than what server is used for this.

Just read their post and it looks like a smart change. They will focus more on templating and personalized emails than just simple delivery. There is already a better infrastructure for data like Amazon, Google … So Mailchimp will focus more on some service around than just deliver “raw data.”

If you’re on Google Apps, you can route your SMTP through Google for low volume sites.

Word of warning there, though, once you hit Google’s rate limits they will give the address/account you’re using a 48 hour block.

We used Google for SMTP for the better part of a year and it worked splendidly. Then, on Black Friday weekend, we hit the rate limit and it was a bit of scramble to get our emails going again.

Another noob/pro tip, set up a dedicated email address for your transactional/automated emails. We had one email for everything, so when it got blocked not only were our transactional emails not going out, but we couldn’t respond to customers that were emailing us about the email problems We had to copy/paste and respond from our personal accounts. LMAO!

That was a “fun” weekend. Of course, it was a good problem to have. :wink:

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Hey, not sure if you saw, but SparkPost has 100,000 emails/mo free now. They give the reason on why they can offer that here: https://www.sparkpost.com/blog/why-sparkpost-can-offer-100k-free-emails-per-month/#.VtRvAzYrI0o

And here is the word press plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/sparkpost/

Just tested it and not impressed with it. The official plugin works with SMTP only, what is a lot slower compared to API, also it does not change Header like Sender, Reply-to as it’s set up in the form (Gravity forms). So the plugin is useless, currently better to use any SMTP plugin for this.
Also, even I verified sending domain with everything what’s possible there it still showed “mailed-by: sparkpost” instead of my domain. UI not very fast too.
So I think enough hassle to don’t use it yet, even if 100 000 number looks cool.

Using email account for transactional emails is the idea like host your website on google drive :slight_smile: Your experience just confirm that :wink: It’s probably even better to use just PHP mailer on your server.

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You wouldn’t happen to be associated with SparkPost at all, would you? Because you’re not the first “Ozzie” who just signed up to an online community to promote SparkPost on a topic about Mandrill alternatives.

Failing to disclose an affiliation with a product you discuss is a violation of WP Chat rules. :wink:

I have to admit, I was leaning towards MailGun because its a Rackspace product and they seem to have a good reputation. But after reading @krogsgard’s Post Status newsletter I realized that Mailgun has pretty high spam rates, 35.5% at the time of this posting, which is pathetic.

One of the reasons I like MailChimp and Mandrill so much is they’re hella strict about spam, and subsequently have very high deliverability rates. They have a 0% spam rate according to Inbox trail.

Interesting stats. I should move to Post Status club :slight_smile:
It looks like some Email providers give more value to IP/server from where emails are sent.
Just checked Mailgun docs https://help.mailgun.com/hc/en-us/articles/203446070-What-do-I-do-if-I-m-on-a-blacklist-
It’s strange that a user has to check if their IP is blacklisted. I thought it’s their job.

That seems strange to me as well, but I suppose you can kinda tell if you see your deliverability rate takes a nosedive.

I’d imagine MailChimp doesn’t wait around for a user to report a blacklisting to take action though.

This is really sad. Mandrill was just convenient. I too was leaning towards MailGun, but those stats… :frowning:

Mailgun is superior anyway. Up to 10k emails free a month. Their WordPress integration plugin is superior*, setup is fast, reliability is great. I use it for many clients and have never had a single issue.

*Seriously, the Mandrill WP plugin is a mess. They clearly outsourced it. They replace wp_mail but don’t properly support the native filters so it can break other plugins that expect a consistent interface.

Just tried and tested little bit Postmark and everything was smooth there. I avoid trying this service in the past, bc. I am not big fan of yellow color :wink:
Also, I prefer their approach compared to Mailgun regarding IP https://postmarkapp.com/blog/the-false-promises-of-dedicated-ips
Btw. already the member of PostStatus :wink:

Regarding WP plugins which integrate with a transactional email provider, still not sure what is “the right way” for this. Some plugins override any settings in Form’s plugin, some does not. I don’t know if it’s due to the priority when this function is fired to WP or there are more ways to handle this.

After some closer look, more testing and experiences from last days, I can say, that using Mailgun (free plan) as transactional service for emails is even worse than simply using your server for emails.

  • Using API, if your email is lost, you can’t debug it, you don’t know what happened. So email can’t lose, but it do with Mailgun.

  • ISP can blacklist your sending IP server easily if anyone can send 10 000 spam newsletter from the same IP as you use, and ISP will do.

  • If anyone can send newsletters from the same server as you use for transactional emails, let’s say some Boby hit the button to send 100 000 emails, probably your “reset password” email will wait somewhere in a queue. (I think if a user waits for registration or password email even one minute, it’s horrible experience)

  • If provider promises you better deliverability on paid plan, it means, you get worse deliverability on the free plan. It means you can stay on a server, where you host your app, the same shit or luck :wink:

Well, I am using SendGrid and Amazon SES without any problems. Going to ditch Mandrill sooner than later.

Just signed up for SendGrid, although their “provisioning” step is taking a bit longer than what they mentioned in their video. I guess they’re having an influx of new users this month :smiley:

Inbound Now’s email client was built on top of Mandrill and Mandrill launched the big news I think around 1-3 days of the email client’s official release. I had to change documentation all over the place and push back other projects to get a replacement service in before the 27th(?) of April this year… when I have to have a paid MailChimp account, which I do not and can’t expect customers to either.

I had made up my mind that I was going to go with SendGrid, but I hopped on the SparkPost’s slack and did an interview which lead me to the promise by their CEO, which a promise what I feel I need right now… that and a compatible API with great transactional rates. 100k free covers most of my user’s needs.

So I’m going to move forward with them. I like that I’m hooked into their slack too and have access to developers. Their API documentation format isn’t that good but there seems to be plenty of code examples on GitHub and it’s API is a lot like Mandrill’s with metadata support.

Here’s the article that details the interview with SparkPost:

Hope to be testing it by next week.

The problem with sparkpost is that they attach the “unsubscribe header” to all the emails, and this cannot be disabled on SMTP. So it is not a good alternative at all.
You can check more info on sparkpost and others on this post I made:
https://sendyhost.com/mandrill-alternatives-245/

Cheers

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Whew I’ve already started development, you scared me because we are handling our own unsubscribe system. But Inbound Now’s client will not be using the SMTP feature of SendMail and will be API powered, so I’m ok to move forward. Right? Any latter warnings?