Recently, a popular transactional email provider decided to alter the terms of their agreement with many of their customers. This post is specifically for people targeted by that announcement, and is to provide a quick summary of some alternative services that might be of interest to you.
Postmark has been doing this whole thing since 2010, a full 2 years before Mandril was in Beta. I find them to be the ideal solution if either deliverability to the inbox or pricing flexibility is paramount. For low-volume use, they’re a bit on the expensive side but they’re great at what they do.
SparkPost is by the same folks who build the Port25 MTA used by the biggest e-mail companies out there (including Salesforce and MailChimp). That means they’re the experts in using that software and SparkPost serves as an environment for them to tune, tweak and do other production-y R&D to improve their core product. That means you’re getting access to some of the foremost experts on email delivery (the folks MailChimp calls for help), and in my quick testing of the platform some of the best delivery speed available.
Pricing is a little funky, but for low-volume senders this is going to be my go-to recommendation because up to 100,000 e-mails /month is completely free. Unfortunately, there is no overage option on that plan, and if you need to send a single e-mail over that number you have to go with a paid plan starting at $44.99 /month for 200,000 e-mails and $0.20 per thousand overage. This is still significantly cheaper than Postmark, but SparkPost is a lot newer service and the free offer is subject to change at any time.
SendGrid has been in the e-mail business a good while as well. They offer a starter tier of 12,000 e-mails /month for free, and 100,000 e-mails is just $19.95 /month. Bumping up to additional features and volumes start to include fairly hefty price premiums, but if the numbers work out they’ve been a great partner to many companies out there.
UPDATE: 3/9/16 – SparkPost has updated their pricing, now 100,000 e-mails are free or for $24.99 you can get the 100,000 e-mails with overages allowed at $0.20 per thousand. This is an excellent change!
UPDATE: Sometime in October – SparkPost has added the ability to add Dedicated IPs and overages to non-subscription plans!