8 Best Transactional Email Services Compared For 2023
Looking for a comparison of the best transactional email services on the market?
Customers rely on transactional emails to get important information that they need. As such, they’ll expect to receive them in their inboxes as soon as possible after making a purchase on your eCommerce store or taking action on your site or app.
If you want to keep your customers happy, it’s essential to have access to a reliable transactional email service that will ensure no confirmation email, e-receipt, or password reset is ever missed.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best transactional email service providers on the market. Then, we’ll show you how to choose the right one for your business.
Ready? Let’s get started.
The best transactional email services – summary
- Brevo – Best all-in-one email tool with transactional and marketing email features.
- SparkPost – Best for enterprise-level businesses (most reliable transactional email service).
- PostMark – Most developer-friendly transactional email service.
- Sendgrid – Another great email delivery service with excellent security features.
- Mailjet – Best free pricing plan.
- Mailgun – Best white label transactional email service.
- Amazon SES – Most cost-effective transactional email service.
- Elastic Email – Most scalable email API.
#1 – Brevo (formerly Sendinblue)
Brevo is an all-in-one email marketing tool that can help you to manage transactional emails and much more. It markets itself as a software solution that offers ‘all your digital marketing tools in one place’.
Transactional emails are just one of the main features Brevo has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’ve cut corners. On the contrary, they offer one of the most reliable transactional email delivery engines on the market.
You can choose from several different setup options, so you can pick the one that makes the most sense for your business.
For example, if you’re a developer and want to integrate Brevo with your own in-house or third-party application, you can use the API or SMTP Relay. If you want to keep things simple, you can use eCommerce plugins to automatically integrate it with your website.
You can design professional-looking transactional emails using a template-based drag & drop editor, and personalize it with dynamic content from your website programmatically using their advanced templating language.
The great thing about frontend, drag & drop editors like this is you don’t need to write all the code yourself manually, which makes things a lot faster and easier for non-tech-savvy users.
Brevo also has a dedicated team of deliverability experts working on their infrastructure to make sure all emails get through to your customer’s inbox every time – and in as short a time as possible. They boast an impressive 99% deliverability rate.
Once your emails are sent, you can check deliverability and engagement statistics in real-time to see how they’re performing.
Aside from transaction emails, Brevo offers a ton of other useful marketing tools, including:
Email marketing and SMS marketing
You can use Brevo to design marketing emails and craft extensive campaigns. There are also A/B testing options to help you to optimize your campaigns and instant chat functions.
As well as email functions, Brevo also boasts an advanced CRM that will allow you to manage all of your customer relationships from one easy-to-use dashboard. You can organize all of your contacts into lists based on factors such as the source of acquisition or where they are in your conversion funnel.
Finally, Brevo features a range of conversion tools that can be used to grow your email list and drive sales and conversions. You can use Brevo to design high-converting landing pages, sign-up forms, and even Facebook Ad campaigns.
Overall, Brevo gets top marks from us. It has a great reputation amongst digital marketers and is the perfect option for businesses that want to centralize their transactional email and email marketing tasks in one easy-to-use tool.
Brevo has a free plan on which you can send up to 300 emails per day. Paid plans start at $25/month for up to 20,000 monthly emails.
#2 – SparkPost
SparkPost is one of the oldest and most reliable email sending and deliverability platforms on the market. They’ve been around for over two decades and deliver around 40% of all commercial emails (around 5 trillion each year).
SparkPost’s stellar reputation means they’re trusted by some of the world’s largest brands, including Adobe, Twitter, Pinterest, MailChimp, and Booking.com.
SparkPost is a great choice for enterprise-level businesses that care about their sender reputation and can’t afford any mistakes when it comes to email deliverability. They offer the highest standards of performance, speed, reliability, and security, with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
One of the things that make SparkPost stand out is its industry-leading analytics capabilities. Their email analytics platform, Signals, lets you zoom in on the most important data points and uncover trends.
They use a predictive model to proactively monitor email performance in real-time to give you immediate visibility into any deliverability or performance issues and provide recommendations on how to optimize your emails for maximum engagement.
Another neat feature is Recipient Validation, which makes it easy to verify all the email addresses in your mailing list are valid the moment you collect them.
SparkPost looks at billions of bounce and delivery events to train its algorithm to catch and detect common problems like syntax errors and non-existing mailboxes. By validating your recipient lists before you start sending, you can guard against bounces and fraud.
SparkPost offers flexible pricing plans based on how many emails you send. You can get started with a test account for free to send up to 100 emails per day.
Paid plans start at $20 per month. Enterprise-grade plans are available on request, but you’ll need to get in touch with SparkPost for a quote.
#3 – Postmark
Postmark is another reliable transactional email service you can trust, with lightning-fast delivery speeds and 100% API uptime over the last 90 days.
Postmark is one of the most developer-friendly tools on this list with an API that’s super easy to work with. They provide clear and extensive documentation, which makes setup a breeze, as well as detailed migration guides and API libraries for more or less every programming language out there.
If you need a little extra help, the Postmark support team is one of the best we’ve seen. They’re knowledgeable, responsive, and always helpful – 93% of users rate them as great. You can contact support via phone, email, or live chat, or find the answer yourself in their extensive support center.
Another cool thing about Postmark is how transparent they are. They share their delivery speeds (Time to Inbox) and Uptime data publicly on their status page, which shows they have nothing to hide.
At the time of writing, the average Time to Inbox for emails sent to Gmail accounts is just 2.41 seconds, so you can be sure your customers will receive your transactional emails more or less instantaneously.
Some other features we like about PostMark include:
- Easy-to-use email templates to create welcome emails, password reset emails, trial expiration emails, and more.
- DMARC protection helps guard your users against phishing scams
- Superior delivery rates ensure your transactional emails always hit your customers’ mailboxes
- Open and link tracking for every email
- 45-day content history to help with troubleshooting
- Bounce webhooks allow you to receive automatic notifications when emails bounce
- Postmark Rebound prompts users to update their email addresses in your app when welcome emails bounce
Postmark offers multiple pricing plans for different monthly email volumes. Plans start from $10 per month for up to 10,000 emails (+$1.25 per additional 1,000 emails).
If you send more than 300,000 emails per month, you can also purchase a dedicated IP for $50 per month. A free trial (100 test emails) is available with no credit card required.
#4 – SendGrid
SendGrid is an email delivery service that offers both email API and email marketing campaign plans.
You can use SendGrid to send transactional emails like shipping notifications and password resets, as well as marketing emails like newsletters, promotional emails, and more. Over 80,000 businesses use SendGrid to power their emails, including household names like Uber, Airbnb, Yelp, and Spotify.
Marketers and developers can take advantage of professionally designed email templates to put together awesome emails in an intuitive UI, then send them programmatically.
You can integrate SendGrid with your website or app in minutes through their developer-friendly RESTful APIs and SMTP, with libraries for all the most popular programming languages and extensive documentation.
SendGrid partners with leading mailboxes including Gmail and Microsoft. They’ve created a reliable infrastructure with automated queue handling to maximize delivery rates. They also offer robust security features including two-factor authentication, Teammate Permissions, Event Webhook security, TLS encryption, and more.
A free version of SendGrid is available for up to 100 emails/day. Paid plans start at $14.95 per month for up to 100,000 emails. Plans including a dedicated IP and support for 1.5 million+ emails start at $89.95/month.
#5 – Mailjet
Mailjet is a cloud-based, all-in-one email marketing tool that includes a powerful email builder, developer-friendly email API, contact management tools, deep analytics, and more.
It’s great for cross-departmental collaboration and makes it easy for marketers and developers to work together in real-time.
You can get started with Mailgun in minutes and send, schedule, and track emails using either SMTP or RESTful API. The templating language enables you to personalize your transactional emails with loops, conditionals, and functions. You can also preview how the emails will look to your recipients on different devices.
The biggest downside with MailJet is that their customer support seems to be lacking. A lot of reviews point out that they’re not responsive when you need help and struggle to satisfactorily address issues and complaints.
Mailjet’s free plan includes 200 emails per day (6,000 per month). Paid plans start at $15/month.
#6 – Mailgun
Mailgun is one of the most flexible email APIs in the industry. Hundreds of thousands of businesses use it to send transactional emails like password resets, invoices, etc. every day.
Mailgun uses your domain for sending emails, which is great for branding and establishing domain reputation. It also improves delivery rates as mailboxes like Gmail look at the domain to determine whether or not it’s spam. If you don’t have a domain name, you can use the sandbox email provided instead.
You can send emails via SMTP or API. SMTP is easier to set up – you just grab your credentials and plug them into your third-party application. However, API is more flexible and scalable, and the better choice if you’re building your own app.
You can grab sample code for the programming language you use (e.g. Python, Java, Ruby, PHP, C#, Node.js, and more). Then, customize the content, from address, and to address to whatever you need in order to programmatically send emails to your specifications.
MailGun offers a 3-month free trial plan which includes 5,000 emails per month.
Paid plans start at $35 per month (50,000 emails per month). Extra emails are charged at a rate of $0.80 per 1000 emails.
#7 – Amazon SES (Simple Email Service)
Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) is Amazon’s own email delivery service. It’s cost-effective, flexible, and scalable, with very affordable pay-as-you-go plans.
Since it’s made by Amazon, you can be sure it’s going to be reliable and packed full of features. Amazon SES offers outstanding deliverability, with flexible IP deployment and email authentication options.
It’s quick and easy to implement, secure, and integrates seamlessly with other Amazon services. This makes it the perfect solution if you’re already using AWS or EC2.
Amazon SES costs $0.10 per 1,000 emails you send. If you’re sending from an application hosted in Amazon EC2, the first 62,000 monthly emails are free. There are various other additional charges and optional extras which you can find on their pricing page.
#8 – Elastic Email
Elastic Email is a popular email service provider that offers both an email marketing platform and a cost-effective email API. The latter can be used to set up transactional emails on your application or website.
Elastic Email is one of the most popular email service providers around and services over 30,000 companies. They’re trusted by brands including Brightmetrics, ScheduleOnce, and Adclick.
Like other popular transactional email services, they focus on providing excellent deliverability and reliability, with a well-documented and easy-to-use API, ultra-fast global infrastructure, and outstanding tracking features including open-rate and CTR tracking, unsubscribe management, geolocation tracking, and more.
You get a visual representation of all the most important email data points to help you to make strategic, data-informed decisions about your business.
What makes Elastic Email special, though, is how affordable and scalable it is. They’ve opted for a pay-as-you-go pricing model, so the amount you pay directly correlates with the number of emails you send.
This makes it very affordable for cash-strapped StartUps and small businesses that don’t generate a lot of transactional emails but want a solution that can scale with them. As your sales figures and revenue grow, so too will your monthly fees.
Aside from their API, Elastic Email also offers a fantastic email marketing tool to help you manage all aspects of your campaigns. It comes with an easy-to-use visual Email Designer, campaign scheduling tools, plus support for autoresponders, user segmentation, personalization, A/X testing, detailed reports, and more.
You can install and activate the Elastic Email Subscribe Form plugin to easily implement an email subscription widget on your website and start building your email list, or create high-converting landing pages encouraging your visitors to subscribe.
Elastic Email offers two pricing plans: Email API ($0.10/1000 emails + $0.40/day) and Email API Pro ($0.12/1000 emails + $1/day).
Depending on which plan you choose, you’ll pay between $10 and $12 per 100,000 emails sent, plus daily fees.
Transaction email services FAQs
Before we wrap up, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about transactional email services.
What is a transactional email service?
Transactional emails are emails that are automatically sent out to customers when they take a certain action on your website or app, like signing up for an account or making a purchase.
Businesses typically use them to send out order confirmations, password resets, receipts, order tracking information, and welcome emails.
Transactional email services facilitate the sending of these types of emails. They provide the tools you need to program, manage, track, and automate them.
What is the difference between email marketing and transactional emails?
Transactional emails are triggered by user actions and sent programmatically to individual users, whereas marketing emails are generally sent out in bulk, strategically, as part of an email marketing campaign.
The content of marketing emails also tends to be more promotional, whereas transactional emails are more functional. They typically contain information that customers want or need. As such, they tend to have much higher open rates than traditional marketing emails.
If you’d like to learn more, check out Startup Bonsai’s article on email marketing vs transactional emails.
Choosing the right transactional email service for your business
As you can see, there are a lot of different transactional email service providers out there to choose from. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution that will work for every business.
When choosing a service, you’ll need to consider your budget and preferred pricing model. It’s also worth thinking about whether you just want a dedicated tool for transactional emails to add to your existing email marketing stack, or if you’d prefer an all-in-one email marketing tool.
And finally, you’ll need to consider how you plan on implementing it within your website or app (e.g. API or SMTP) and choose a service that supports that integration.
However, if you’re unsure which solution to choose, you can’t go wrong with our top picks:
- Brevo if you’re looking for the best all-in-one email and SMS marketing tool with support for transactional emails
- SparkPost for enterprise-level businesses and superior reliability/deliverability
That’s transactional email services covered. But what about email marketing? The majority of these tools (aside from Brevo) will handle transactional emails but you’ll need another tool for the marketing side of things.
If you’re keen to learn more about how to nail your email marketing campaign, check out some of our other articles like 5 Types Of Email You Should Send To Your Subscribers (And Why) and 9 Powerful Email Marketing Tools Compared.
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