SendinBlue 2018 Review - Email Marketing Underdog
If you’re in the market for a new email marketing software solution, you’re up for a tough decision. Those who prefer mainstream solutions will opt for a mainstream option such as MailChimp, Aweber or Constant Contact. If you’re like us and you prefer the underdog, you’re searching for something up and coming. SendinBlue is relatively new to the email marketing - they launched in 2012 and quickly became one of the best alternatives to established email marketing names.
Given that it’s relatively new to the game and that it is constantly working on new updates, SendinBlue is a worthy candidate for taking care of your email lists. Let’s find out if SendinBlue has everything you need for a great email marketing solution for your business.
Setting up campaigns
The basic element of all email marketing software is… Emails, which are called campaigns in SendinBlue. Whether you’re new to email marketing or a seasoned pro, SendinBlue is very easy to use. Simply enter your campaign name, email subject, sender email and name and you’re set. For those who want a bit more, you can add tags, custom form fields and unsubscribe links.
That’s the easy part done - now let’s get to writing emails. There are three ways to go about it - responsive design builder, drag and drop editor and a classic text editor. The aptly titled responsive design builder is excellent if you want to create emails that look great on mobile. There’s quite a few templates to choose from and depending on how much time you put in, the emails can end up looking pretty snazzy. The drag and drop builder is similar to what other email marketing service providers offer, and it is easy to use even if you’re not really technically savvy. For the pros, you can use the text editor to write or copy/paste your HTML code. The important thing to note is that you have choice, whether you want a no-frills text-only email or a souped up newsletter with fancy design.
In two of the cheaper plans, the SendinBlue logo is present in all the emails you send. As you move to the higher-priced plans, you have the option of white labeling. This means that you can insert your own branding across the board - worth considering when choosing a plan.
A general note on using SendinBlue - it comes in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, with new languages in the works at the moment.
The cheaper SendinBlue options offer basic analytics for tracking your emails. Once you open your dashboard, you can see campaign results for current active campaigns. These are just the bare-bones essentials, such as opens, clicks, unsubscribes and complaints. THe only additional element not offered in other email service software solutions is email mapping. You can create a an outline of all your emails according to geographical location, with info on which links people click on. You can export your results in .csv and .pdf formats.
Once you move on to Essential and Premium plans, you get some more detailed information, such as the ability to view device type and generate heat-map reports based on location.
Before you get to sending emails, you’ll need a list of people to send them to. With the standard contact management options. You can add contacts, separate them into lists and folders and set up custom filters and sorting properties. Besides static lists, you can also create dynamic lists which are updated in real time based on your set preferences.
The biggest problem with SendinBlue’s contact management is the lack of ability to import from third-party apps and services. For example, if you want to import a mailing list from Salesforce, you have no other option except doing it manually - either one by one or uploading a .csv or .txt file.
Uploading lists is the easier of the two methods, but the settings for the uploads are different across platforms. This means that contacts uploaded from different sources can end up having different custom fields and your total subscriber list will lack uniformity.
If there was an area where SendinBlue falls short, it’s integrations. The current list is rather small, with only the following platforms: Magento, Drupal, Wix, Salesforce, Shopify, WooCommerce and Wordpress. You may be thinking that this covers the most important web development/ecommerce options, but the number is meager when compared to Mailchimp’s 800 integrations for example. Alternatively, you can connect a range of different apps to SendinBlue using Zapier, but this also requires a Zapier account (which we strongly recommend getting). If you know your way around coding, you can also use the SendinBlue API to maximize what you can get from the app.
The integrations that do come with SendinBlue work incredibly well. Since most of them are ecommerce platforms, SendinBlue allows for sending transactional emails and it is very easy to link to your store. Besides emails, you can also send transactional text messages, which is a pretty rare feature to come across. This feature is a paid add-on, but it provides lots of value for store owners.
One of the less common features of email marketing software is the ability do SMS marketing. You can send automated text messages using SendinBlue, after purchasing credit for text messages. For example, it will set you back $1.34 to send out 100 text messages. What’s great is that you can link phone numbers to email contacts and maximize your reach. Just like with email campaigns, you can schedule and set up your SMS campaigns and track your stats as they come rolling in. Don’t worry about crossing borders either - you can send texts to any country in the world.
Similar to its competitors, Sendinblue offers a free plan to try out their services before committing to purchase. The free plan enables you to send 9,000 emails per month with an unlimited number of contacts. With the Micro plan, you pay $25 per month, which gives you access to 40,000 monthly emails. This plan also removes the cap on daily sending, so you can send as many emails per day as you want. The Essential plan gives you 60,000 emails monthly and removes some of the limitations of the cheaper plans - the SendinBlue logo is removed, and you get advanced statistics. The true advantage of Essential is that it opens up the responsive design builder option - which is only available in a 60-day trial period for Free and Micro. Finally, SendinBlue states that their most popular option is Premium - with 120k emails monthly. This removes all limitations in regards to marketing automation. The Enterprise plan is tailored to individual needs and therefore does not have a price point listed. What’s interesting is that you get a dedicated account manager with this plan - not necessarily a selling point for larger organizations.
Which plan should you go for? If you’re just starting out with email marketing, the Free plan is a great way to try out SendinBlue. However, if you have a modest subscriber list and don’t intend on moving to a paid plan at any point in time, MailChimp’s forever free plan is a better alternative. The Lite and Essential plans are good value for money, but SendinBlue really shines for those users with bigger subscriber lists. The Premium plan is not the most popular without a reason - it is one of the more affordable options for companies sending out lots of emails on a regular basis.
Whichever option you decide for, it’s worth noting that SendinBlue has regularly been updating their services and constantly giving more bang for your buck.
SendinBlue is one of the more capable email marketing software solutions we’ve tried so far. Despite being fairly new to the game, it competes well with giants such as MailChimp, Aweber and ActiveCampaign. The capabilities are on par with the top players in the game, although the integrations need some further improvements. However, SendinBlue has a great track record of updating their product in the past, to match the latest industry standards, and it’s probably a matter of time before the integration list grows exponentially.
If you know in advance that you won’t opt for a paid plan regardless of the product, SendinBlue is not the best solution, although it offers a lot. For free users, MailChimp has the best offer at the moment. If you have a large mailing list, SendinBlue is a great option. It offers flexibility for growth, as well as great campaign and analytics options.