Here at 86Pixels, many of our products (and thus paying customers) have a transactional email component. Basically, we have the need to send automated emails for everything ranging from password reminders to targeted marketing emails and notifications. Email is a tricky beast nowadays given the reputation required to reliably deliver emails from one person to another, so it is easiest to outsource this.
Up to this point, Mandrill has been a great product to programmatically send emails. Their template merging system made sending gorgeous emails reliable and simple. Today they announced a change in their business model — they’re merging all accounts into MailChimp. So as of the end of April 2016, you’ll need to have a MailChimp account (paid) and purchase Mandrill as an add-on. So, if you’re like me and you’re using Mandrill just for transactional email across multiple clients, this really poses a headache.
The good news is that MailGun has libraries for countless languages and frameworks that makes the integration a breeze. While it’ll require some leg work to migrate your templates and settings over and to test the changes, all hope is not lost. We’re going to be migrating our clients over to MailGun over the next few weeks. For other developers in the Meteor and NodeJS communities, there’s a package that exposes the MailGun API called mailgun-js
Alternative Services for Mandrill App Users
MailGun is a great service from my experience. They give you insights into the delivery and engagement patterns with each and every message you send and the first 10,000 emails are free. They also have a wide variety of library support for various programming languages and frameworks. All in all, a suitable replacement.
SendGrid is a viable replacement for Mandrill. They have extensive API documentation and libraries available for NodeJS, PHP, Python, .NET and COBOL for those who like to roll like its pre-unix epoch. There are also many other libraries available and their interface has vastly improved over the years. Give these guys a shot.
SparkPost provides transactional and high volume emails for its customers. The first 10,000 emails per month are free! They’ve got libraries for NodeJS, PHP, Java, Go, Ruby and more. Their template merge language actually looks powerful and you can get up and running from signup to your first email delivery in minutes.
PostMark offers transactional email, and is a great replacement for Mandrill. They don’t offer the click tracking like Mandrill did, but they still do open tracking and they said that this feature is currently on their roadmap! Their documentation is really great and they have support for common frameworks. They’ve got SMTP and API interactions with their service, and the first 25k emails are free, so check them out!
Mailjet offers both transactional and bulk marketing email services. They have libraries for NodeJS, Python, PHP, Ruby, Java and more for integrating with their service. They also have open and click tracking for those of us Mandrill refugees who used that feature! They’ve also got templating and A/B testing so you can get some pretty powerful transactional emails going. Your first 6,000 emails a month are free.
Amazon SES is a bit more “bare metal” as you don’t get an extremely intuitive interface. If you’re sending relatively straightforward transactional emails and you’re an AWS customer, it might be great for you. If you’re an EC2 free tier user, you can send up to 62,000 messages per month on SES when called from EC2. SES compared to other offerings is quite a raw product, though, so be warned.
Fear not. If you’re an 86Pixels customer, this migration will be seamless. For those in the developer/entrepreneurial community seeking refuge, feel free to check out the others in the space or leave your suggestions in the comments! I’ll update the list.