SendGrid was built as a transactional email service, and then evolved into a Twilio SendGrid Email Platform. Now it is one of the most popular email sending providers, both for email marketers and developers. At the same time, there are 400+ other email sending services, so if you are looking for an alternative tool, you definitely have plenty to choose from. We have prepared this article to help you find the right email sending service among the huge list of available options.
- Looking for SendGrid alternatives: Criteria
- If you need email marketing software
- If you need transactional service
- If you need both marketing and transactional emails
- What should you choose?
Looking for SendGrid alternatives: Criteria
Before starting the search for options, it is always a good idea to define the criteria of the right solution.
First of all, specify the purpose of the tool you are looking for. SendGrid is used both for sending marketing email campaigns (such as newsletters or bulk promotional messages) and transactional emails (such as user notifications, account confirmations, etc.).
The majority of businesses need to send both; for this reason most of the email sending tools provide email API along with the user interface and template constructor. But there still are several email marketing tools designed for marketers and focused on their needs. Similarly, there are great dedicated transactional email services built for developers.
Are you sure that you actually need both? Or do you prefer to use separate tools for different needs, and have an alternative solution for edge cases?
Later, we will use these criteria to organize a list of SendGrid alternatives.
This one doesn’t require additional explanation — of course, you want a reliable service that provides exceptional deliverability. You should be careful with entrusting your customer data to other services. In this post, we list tools tested and recommended by leading companies.
Ease of integration
User-friendly interface and clear documentation are a must for a good email sending tool. When selecting from several options with equal criteria, choose the easiest one to use.
Meeting your budget
In a perfect world, we would choose a tool that does everything, is reliable, has all possible features, and is super-cheap. In reality, define your budget and prioritize the features you actually need.
Let’s move directly to the list of email services!
If you need email marketing software
If you are looking for an awesome tool just for sending email marketing campaigns, then you are lucky. You have a great choice of services featuring an intuitive interface, email design options, automation, analytics, and a list of additional features.
ActiveCampaign is an email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM software product. It is suitable for different types of businesses, from small ecommerce companies to larger tech enterprises. This tool is designed to streamline your sales, marketing, and customer service/support.
ActiveCampaign’s strengths include:
- email marketing and automation (build funnels, auto-responders, personalized email sequences, track events and attribution, etc.)
- CRM and sales automation (lead scoring, tasks, sales reporting)
- customer success management (customer health tracking, onboarding, feedback collection)
- extensive integration with up to 300 other tools
- other messaging and targeting tools (live chat, Facebook custom audiences, SMS, and more)
The software is available in 14 languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Polish, and Russian.
Pricing is based on the number of contacts you have. The Lite subscription plan offers email marketing and automation mostly, while CRM, site messaging, and other advanced features are available in higher-priced plans. The Enterprise plan contains nearly no limits and even offers HIPAA compliance.
The Lite plan starts at $15/month with 500 contacts. Free trial and product demo are available on request.
ActiveCampaign also provides a few helpful free tools including subject line generator, card abandonment calculator, buyer persona templates, and more.
AWeber is purely email marketing software for small businesses.
AWeber’s strengths include:
- email campaign builder (drag and drop builder, AI-powered email template designer, and free templates library)
- automated and personalized email campaigns
- sign up forms and subscriber management
- exceptional deliverability
- extensive integrations with content management, ecommerce, productivity, social media, and other types of tools
Pricing is super simple to choose from, with two subscription plans: free and pro. They also provide special terms for users with 25,000+ subscribers.
The Free plan is certainly enough if you have up to 500 subscribers and plan on sending no more than 3,000 emails per month. It provides a wide set of features, but doesn’t include behavioral automation, split testing, advanced reporting, and some ecommerce options.
The paid subscription starts at $19 /month for 500 subscribers. 25,000 subscribers and unlimited number of emails will cost you $149/month.
Benchmark Email’s motto is “Email marketing made simple”. It describes well the purpose of the tool as it provides everything you need for successful email campaigns.
Benchmark Email’s strengths include:
- drag and drop email editor along with the HTML editor and numerous templates
- developed email automation including sending of triggered and onboarding emails, abandoned carts, follow-ups, and other transactional messages
- list building and management (landing pages and forms) plus subscribers engagement powered by surveys
- analytics/reporting as well a/b testing and inbox checker
Pricing also depends on the number of contacts and has three options: free, pro, and enterprise.
The free plan offers very limited functionality with 250 emails per month. The pro plan starts at $11.89 per month (billed annually) with up to 600 contacts. List verification and inbox checkers are available at additional cost. 25,000 subscribers and unlimited number of emails will cost you $140.24 /month (billed annually).
Benchmark also offers plans for high volume email senders that are based on the number of messages, instead of contacts.
The Enterprise plan is available on request, and best of all, this option is the only one where you can get email deliverability tracking.
Constant Contact is also a tool for creating and sending email marketing campaigns. It has a particular focus on ecommerce.
Constant Contact’s strengths include:
- email template building with a drag and drop editor
- email marketing automation with triggered email series and list-building tools
- list segmentation based on the content subscribers click
- ecommerce email marketing and website builder
- exceptional deliverability
Pricing is based on the number of contacts and offers two plans starting at $20 and $45 per month, accordingly. However, there is no calculator on their website to understand the cost of your number of contacts — the detailed information is available on request. But you can evaluate Constant Contact using it for free for the first month.
ConvertKit is a platform for customer acquisition and retention (as it comes from its name). Email marketing is one of the main tools it provides.
ConvertKit’s strengths include:
- email designer and a content creator
- powerful action-based email automation
- landing pages and sign-up forms
- 70+ integrations of ecommerce, ads, surveys, and other tools
Pricing depends on the number of contacts, similar to other provider plans out there. ConvertKit offers both free and paid subscription plans.
Free plan allows you to send basic email campaigns for up to 1,000 contacts but doesn’t provide email automation and can’t be integrated with other services. However, you are able to create landing pages and forms for free as well.
The paid plan starts at $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers, while 25,000 contacts will cost you $199/month.
ConvertKit’s pricing is clear and simple, without any additional costs. Still, before purchasing, we recommend comparing all the details and features of paid plans.
GetResponse is a marketing software for entrepreneurs, online markets, mid-sized and large companies.
You can also send transactional emails with GetResponse but with a paid add-on and only as a part of the most advanced subscription plan.
GetResponse’s strengths include:
- drag and drop email editor and customizable email templates
- dynamic content and split testing
- email marketing automation and Facebook ads
- conversion funnels and lead magnets
- landing pages, sign-up forms, and webinars
- unmatched deliverability
Pricing is based on the number of contacts. There are four paid plans available, and you can try any of them for free within 30 days.
The basic subscription plan starts at $15/month for 1,000 contacts. 25,000 of contacts will cost $145/month.
Summary table, email marketing tools
|Main purpose||Additional features||Email automation||Min price||Min cost, 25,000 contacts|
|Active Campaign||Email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM software for all types of businesses||Customer success management, live chat, FB targeting, free tools and templates, multi language||Advanced, available in all plans||$15/mo for 500 contacts||$225/mo|
|AWeber||Email marketing tool for small businesses||Landing pages, mobile templates, ecommerce features||Advanced, available in all plans||500 contacts and 3,000 emails/mo for free||$149/mo|
|Benchmark Email||Email marketing and automation||Landing pages, surveys||Simple analytics is available for free, advanced — in the paid plans||250 emails/mo for free||$164.99/mo|
|Constant Contact||Email marketing campaigns for ecommerce||Website builder; event marketing, online donations in the advanced plan, online store transactional emails||Advanced available in the higher plan||First month free; $20/mo||n/a|
|Convertkit||Customer acquisition and retention||Landing pages, sign-up forms||Automated funnels & email sequences in the paid plan||1,000 contacts for free||$199/mo|
|GetResponse||Marketing software for everyone||Transactional emails with a paid add-on; webinars, Fb ads, conversion funnel||Advanced in the higher plans||$15/mo for 1,000 contacts||$145/mo|
|SendGrid (email marketing suite)||Email marketing software||Sign-up forms, advanced security||Time-based series is available in the free and the most advanced paid plan (not available in the basic plan)||2,000 contacts and 6,000 emails/mo for free||$50/mo, dependent on the number of emails. |
100,000 emails costs $120,
200,000 emails = $200, etc.
If you need transactional service
Both transactional and marketing emails are an integral part of online services. Sometimes, transactional emails by mechanics serve marketing purposes. For example, abandoned cart emails or welcome emails are triggered by a user behavior, but are included into functionality of the email marketing software we have explored earlier in this article.
This is why there are just a few purely transactional email providers. As we have already mentioned, SendGrid was built as a transactional email service before evolving into a complete email marketing and sending platform.
The most popular SendGrid competitors in this field are Mandrill (by Mailchimp) and Mailgun. We have compared them in a separate blog post SendGrid vs Mandrill vs Mailgun.
Another conventional alternative is Amazon SES, which is a great choice for tech savvy users, especially who are hosting their app on Amazon AWS. For details, check out our Amazon SES vs SendGrid article.
Postmark offers email API and SMTP service for transactional emails.
Postmark’s strengths include:
- Exceptional deliverability and live time-to-inbox data
- Analytics and troubleshooting tools
- Integrated responsive email templates
Recently, Postmark launched message streams for handling all application emails (in a private beta).
Pricing. Postmark doesn’t have any special subscription plans — they charge for the number of emails you send, with 100 free test emails per month to start off. The minimum plan includes 10,000 messages for a month and costs $10 (paid monthly).
SMTP2GO is an email delivery service that can be used for just about any type of email. However, do not provide UI or email builder, or any other functionality used by email marketers, thus why being referred to as a transactional email service.
It can be integrated as a SMTP or via API.
SMTP2GO’s strengths include:
- distinguished deliverability and status reporting
- ease of integration
- real-time reports
- email testing and previewing in email clients
Pricing is based on the number of emails you send, but also consists of three subscription plans. The Starter plan includes 40,000 emails/month for $15 (paid monthly). Email testing and dedicated IP are available on the higher plans starting at $75.
For more options, read our Choosing the Best Transactional Email Provider article.
Summary table, transactional email providers
|Main purpose||Additional features||Min price||Min cost, 25,000 emails|
|Postmark||Email API and SMTP service for transactional emails||Responsive transactional email templates||$10/mo for 0- 10,000 emails||$28.75/mo|
|SMTP2GO||Email delivery service, SMTP and API||Email testing and previewing in email clients||1,000 emails/mo for free||$15/mo|
|SendGrid||Email API and SMTP for integration with your website or app||Dynamic templates, email validation||40,000 emails for 30 days, then 100/day forever||$14.95/mo|
If you need both marketing and transactional emails
Finally, here’s the most common scenario: you need both email marketing campaigns and transactional emails. For such tasks, SendGrid is often compared to Mailchimp. We also did this in a separate blog post SendGrid vs Mailchimp. Now, let’s review a few less popular, but viable options.
Campaign Monitor is a tool for marketers and provides transactional email sending that can be easily used by marketers. This makes it quite a unique tool. They also offer two separate products: Campaign Monitor and CM Commerce. Both both are used to create email campaigns. The difference is that CM Commerce is designed for ecommerce (online stores) and mostly solves those specific tasks.
In this overview, we will look at the primary product – Campaign Monitor itself.
Campaign Monitor’s strengths include:
- convenient drag and drop email editor and a set of free templates for marketing campaigns
- visual email journey designer for easy and powerful automations
- signup forms and customer segmentation
- transactional emails with templates and an editor that are both easy to use for marketers
- deliverability and analytics
- 250+ integrations
Pricing can be based on the number of contacts or on the number of messages with a per campaign fee.
The basic plan starts at $9/month with 2,500 emails, core marketing features, basic automation, and analytics. 25,000 emails will cost you $49/month on this basic plan or $149/month on the most advanced plan.
ClickSend is a communication suite that consists of several messaging products, and email is one of them.
Their email product is called email getaway and provides email marketing tools, a transactional email API, SMTP API, and bulk email service.
ClickSend’s strengths include:
- email marketing software with email templates, a design tool, analytics, and automation
- transactional email API and SMTP service with proven deliverability and advanced reporting
- featured mass email platform with email scheduling, reporting, and personalization
Pricing is based on the number of messages. You are charged monthly, and the more you send, the cheaper one email is. But there are no subscription plans and no monthly fees.
If you send less than 25,000 emails, one message costs $0.0065, if you send more than 25,000, each costs $0.0052. This means that the price for 25,000 emails should be $130.
Elastic Email provides an email marketing platform along with an email API for handling transactional emails.
Elastic Email’s strengths include:
- email design tool and autoresponders for marketing campaigns
- webforms, landing pages, and subscriber management
- email automation (on the advanced subscription plan)
- API and SMTP integration, webhooks, and integrations for transactional emails
- proven deliverability
Pricing is separate for email marketing campaigns and the email API service.
Email marketing campaigns start at $10/month for 10,000 contacts. The advanced subscription plan for 10,000 contacts costs $30/month and adds email automation, custom branding, and faster delivery speed.
Email API cost is based on the number of emails sent, and starts at $0.09/1000 emails. This price includes the email designer, landing pages, and analytics.
To unlock all features, consider the advanced plan at $0.10/1000 emails +$1/day.
SocketLabs is an email delivery platform that also has email marketing tools. They also provide email parsing, MTA, an assembly server, a load balancer, and deliverability consultancy.
SocketLabs’s strengths include:
- drag and drop designer and templates for email marketing campaigns
- drip campaigns
- transactional email handling and SMTP relay service
- powerful email analytics and scoring
- on-premises email software solution
- exceptional deliverability
Pricing plans include both email marketing and transactional services and are based on the number of emails sent.
There is a generous free plan that allows you to start with 40,000 emails in the first month (and after this the limit is 2,000 emails/ month). It includes email marketing tools, drip campaigns, SMTP and email API, and more.
Paid subscription plans start at $39.95/month with 40,000 emails, 1 secure whitelisted authentication IP, and detailed reporting.
Summary table, email sending platforms
|Main purpose||Additional features||Min price||Min cost, 25,000 emails|
|Campaign Monitor||Email marketing campaigns and transactional emails for marketers||Ecommerce product||$9 for 2,500 emails. One pricing for all types of messages||$49/mo|
|ClickSend||Set of communication tools, marketing and transactional emails||$0.0065 per message (no plans, one price for marketing and transactional)||$130|
|Elastic Email||Email marketing platform + email API for transactional emails||Webforms, landing pages||$10 for 10,000 contacts on email marketing platform|
$0.09 for 1,000 transactional emails
|$40/mo for marketing emails|
$2.25 for transactional emails
|SocketLabs||Email delivery platform||email parsing, MTA, assembly server, load balancer (extra costs)||40,000 emails for 30 days, then 2,000 emails/mo for free||$39.95/mo|
|SendGrid||Email API and SMTP for integration with your website or app||Dynamic templates, email validation||2,000 contacts and 6,000 emails/mo for free for marketing campaigns|
40,000 emails for 30 days, then 100/day forever for transactional emails
|$50/mo dependent on the number of emails sent. 100,000 emails costs $120 for marketing campaigns|
$14.95/mo for transactional emails
What should you choose?
There are so many tools for various email sending tasks that it is really hard to choose. Sometimes it’s easier to start using the most popular one, but in fact there are many hidden gems.
Fortunately, the majority of software solutions offer free trials so you can evaluate whether your tool of choice matches your needs. But general recommendations are the following:
- Define your requirements — do you need an all-in-one solution or do you want to solve specific tasks?
- Think of additional features — can you get more of what you need for the same price?
- Compare pricing, but remember that the cheapest is not always the best.
- Make sure that the tool is reliable (in terms of privacy, security, and deliverability).
- Test several different tools and choose the most user-friendly one.
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