Product Development April 7, 2020

What transactional email service are you using?

Daniel @daniel_lj

I've been using SendGrid for transactional emails for some time now and I'm not really happy with it. Too many emails go to recipients spam folder and for that it's a little too pricy. I've tried every single recommendation out there to improve it but with no real luck. Maybe there is something better out there?

  1. 11

    We use Postmark. Can't speak to deliverability vs. SendGrid, but in terms of ease-of-use it's awesome. The two things I love most about it are their API (very straightforward to integrate) and their email templating support. I used Mandrill a few years ago to do email templating and it was pain to use. Postmark comes with some nice templates out of the box that you can customize and deploy directly from their webapp. Really slick.

    1. 3

      +1000 for Postmark

      In terms of deliverability, that is their specialty. I switched to Postmark because I was experiencing deliverability with Sendgrid (none of my emails were going to @hotmail.com and @outlook.com addresses!). Postmark has strict standards for who can use their IP addresses to send out mail, and that's how they can guarantee high deliverability, whereas a service like Sendgrid attracts lots of spammers which can bring down the overall reputation and can affect your startup.

      Even better, Postmark offers $75 in free credits which can comfortable cover about 7 months of service if you send <10,000 emails :)

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        Thanks. Postmark sounds promising.

        Where did find the info on $75 credits? I can only find the free dev plan with 100 mails / month. That is a little low for trying it out.

        Any experience with the dedicated ip?

        1. 4

          Near the bottom of their pricing page, it says:

          Do you offer a discount for bootstrapped companies?
          Yes! If you’ve launched your product, are charging for it, and haven’t taken outside investment, contact our support team and we’ll give you $75 account credit to help with your email costs.

          No experience w/ dedicated IP, but check my comment below about it

    2. 1

      I really like postmark but one downside, they only keep 2-3 months worth of customer email data. Which is fine until you get a credit card dispute a few months down the road. I plan on switching if their policy doesn't change soon.

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        @rjbrown3 unless I'm missing something you could bcc a @gmail account in all your comms, this way you keep a record of what you sent and when it was sent? you could also keep an offline record of deliverability metrics for each transaction (whether the email was sent or not) but that's a little more involved.

        1. 1

          Yeah, I suppose I could in that regard. I think the key value is the 'open' or even the 'delivered' confirmation postmark offers. Just nice to turn that into a PDF and send it over in the dispute evidence. -- all of that to say I have no idea if that makes a difference in whether or not I win a dispute? I still haven't figured out how that all works.

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            Yeah I hear you - disputes are hit and miss. I feel like some banks won't even read what you've put in in your appeal. I've had pretty legitimate responses (i.e. proof of delivery when customer claimed something wasn't delivered); still I almost always lost disputes. PayPal does a much better job than being out in the open though...but that's a different topic :)

      2. 1

        Disputes are really hard to win and can damage a business really bad. Here at Kingmailer we have experience with this, which explains the tough onboarding process, we have to make sure a client is not here to hurt our business :'(

        One dispute or charge back can cost you $50 to $60 and the customer almost always wins this... the merchant has to pay full price.

        Here at Kingmailer we are giving 6 months history log.

  2. 3

    Even if you switch providers, if you're using the same domain (which is probably tainted at this point) you will probably have the same deliverability issues.

    I use Sparkpost, no complaints, even after they deprecated their free forever plan.

  3. 3

    We're big fans of Postmark here at MemberSpace

  4. 2

    I use Mailgun for my side projects, still on the free tier with no dedicated IP address and only had issues delivering emails to BT Internet email accounts (BT is an ISP in the UK and my target demographic doesn't use this provider much so it's generally ok).

    At work we use Amazon SES to send millions of emails a month and never had any issues with deliverability, but I do hear other complaining online.

    I think generally you will always lose a few emails to spam but most of the transactional email services should provide pretty good deliverability, maybe the issue is with your domain - if you haven't owned it long a previous owner may have destroyed it's sending reputation. It might be worth testing with an alternative domain name like @danielmail.com or whatever your product is.

  5. 2

    Mailgun is best from my experience, in terms of inbox landing vs spam. CustomerIO uses mailgun for it's delivery.

  6. 1

    Currently using sendgrid, but also having the experience of bad deliverability, which means many users don't finish signing up on Jobflow.
    I am currently in the process of changing - thinking about https://userlist.com/

  7. 1

    Have you set SPF and DKIM records for your domain? That’s the first step in improving your delivery rate, and I’m surprised no one’s mentioned it yet. If you haven’t, here are their docs on setting it up.

  8. 1

    mailgun - not great, not terrible. Gets the job done

  9. 1

    For me, the Firebase Email Extension worked just fine.

    What's your use case?

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      SignUp-Welcome, Reset-Password, and more. Typical transactional stuff. No marketing.

      1. 1

        Then I'd recommend the Firebase Stack.

        Firebase Auth would get you covered for all auth flows and with the Firebase Email Extension, you'll cover for the rest.

        I have a repo you can use as a ref. Feel free to ask questions.

        Firebase auth:

  10. 1

    Mailgun has free 10,000 emails/mo.

    I've never used anything else, honestly.

    1. 1

      How much does it cost?

      1. 1
  11. 1

    I haven't used it much but recently installed https://sendy.co and going to use it for my next projects - its basically free compared to service providers, but does require you to do a bit of heavy lifting yourself (installation, email templates etc)

    1. 1

      Sende.co is not a transactional email service provider 🤓

  12. 1

    I can vouch for mailgun.com and sendinblue.com

    Easy to integrate, Fantastic delivery and we've had no issues with delivery whatsoever

  13. 1

    I am using Sendgrid and have been happy with it. Are you on their Free or Essentials plan? If so, you are using their shared IPs. I faced your issue a few months ago, but I upgraded to their Pro plan which gives you a dedicated IP. Spam and deliverability problems disappeared after that.

    1. 1

      Pro plan with dedicated ip and it still has pretty bad delivery quota. SendGrid mails mostly end in spam.

      1. 1

        Interesting.

        Have you checked your Sender IP reputation using something like https://senderscore.org/?

        If that is low, then that might explain things, and you may need to change your dedicated IP and investigate why your reputation got so low in the first place.

        1. 1

          Everything looks healthy. On no known blacklist.

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            Well, that's good to know. Btw, how do you know your emails are going to recipients' spam folder? Just curious.

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              Many transactional emails are of the sort that the user waits to become them. Like Reset-Password. If they don't get them, they complain ;-) And even for myself they land in spam.

  14. 1

    There is also Mailjet if you are looking for a solution that is hosted within the EU. I've had only great experiences so far with them.

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      Are you using their free plan? if not, with dedicated ip?

      1. 1

        I am using the Basis plan without a dedicated ip

  15. 1

    I use Sendgrid. I have passwordless login with Auth0 and Sendgrid handles the sending of the email code–the setup was super easy. Their API is also really easy to implement to send custom templated emails based on hooks like Stripe payments, etc. I have this setup with Netlify functions.

  16. 1

    Hey Daniel! I'm using Mailgun for the two side-projects I'm currently working on and it's working pretty good for me so far. It's true that I realised some messages do end up in spam but overall it's doing the job :)

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      I am also using Mailgun, a little disappointing that they recently removed their free tier.

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        Yes that's right! I tried to create another account and realised the free trial was not there anymore, quite disappointing indeed...

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      do you have a dedicated ip? if so, did that help in any way?

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        In my case I don't have it so far.

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        A dedicated IP should definitely help reduce spam. It might be worthwhile trialing it for a month and see if the reduction in spam is noticeable and if it justifies the cost.

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          With SendGrid it hasn't really helped. That's why I'm looking for an alternative.

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            While a dedicated IP sounds like a good idea, it takes time to build up a reputation from 0. If you're not a high volume sender (we're taking hundreds of thousands of emails), this will take a long time to achieve. I highly suggest using Postmark before considering a dedicated IP!

  17. 0

    Try: https://kingmailer.co

    We focus on transactional emails only and email management.

    We have a 90+ % score on ReturnPath ... not to brag xD

    @daniel_lj

    1. 1

      Give it a try @daniel_lj

      Would love your feedback