Sending mail to somebody
Continuing the email theme from last week, this week we look at transactional email services. Reply to this newsletter if you have anything you’d like to email me about, email related or otherwise.
Everyone reading this has received a transactional email. Any time you sign up for a service or register your email with a site, you will typically receive an email welcoming you, or requesting you verify your email address. These emails are what are known as transactional emails. They are the result of something happening in the system, typically a user interaction, but may also be scheduled. And they are usually sent to a specific user or group.
These are different than marketing campaign emails (which is another topic for another week) because they are sent because of a particular action rather than the whim of a marketing team. That said, many services which offer support for transactional emails, also provide some support for marketing emails as well.
Obviously all of these services allow you to send emails from your applications, either via an API or basic SMTP. However, they also provide templates, along with the ability to embed values into those templates. Other features like analytics, A/B testing and contact list management are often what sets one service apart from another. Some of those features may or may not be part of the free tier offering either.
Mailgun is probably the service that focuses most on the transactional emails. In fact that is there entire business. They also focus on being developer friendly, as that is their primary audience. They allow for 10,000 emails to be sent each month for free, which is a great way to get started. I have used Mailgun a couple of times, and found it to be a good service. They offer API based sending as well as an SMTP service. However, once your needs increase, they do seem to be the most expensive of the group.
SendGrid has a strong focus on the transactional emails, but also does marketing emails. They have a free tier which offers 40,000 emails the first month followed by 100 per day thereafter. More than a enough for most side projects. Once you start needing more volume, I’ve found that SendGrid scales better than Mailgun. Something to consider if you expect to grow.
Another service with a broader range of offerings. I’ve seen them recommended by others, and they do offer a nice 300 emails per day for free. However they don’t scale as well as SendGrid.
Another service providing transactional emails among a number of other email related services. They allow 200 emails per day for free. Their features are comparable to the others, and I suspect it will come down to a collection of auxiliary features, like templating and analytics which will attract people to one or another.