- Low monthly cost
- Numerous features
- Good customer service
- Numerous templates
- Limited integrations
- Outdated user interface
While it is not long past in a historical sense, the first decade of the century may as well have been eons ago when it comes to technology. From that perspective, the email service provider (ESP) market is largely dominated by “older” companies that established themselves early in the digital marketing game and have evolved with it.
That’s not the case, however, with newcomer SendinBlue, which joined the ESP game in 2012. A year earlier, Duel Technologies CEO Armand Thiberge had some criticisms of the ESP industry, noting that many clients were paying for complex services they didn’t necessarily need. He, his partner Kapil Sharma, and a team of 15 developers set out to develop their ideal ESP over the course of the next year-and-a-half. The company is currently headquartered in Paris, France, but operates most of its English-language business out of its offices in Seattle.
SendinBlue’s calling card is its accessibility, both in terms of features and pricing, which allows new marketers to quickly create and ramp up campaigns without having to rely on too many complex integrations. It should be cautioned, however, that the software does have some limitations that could make it ill-suited for more advanced users. However, with new features like automation coming online, it’s going to become harder and harder to ignore SendinBlue.
Table of Contents
SendinBlue offers email plans, text message plans, and a snazzy “IP” plan that claims to give you total control over your “sending reputation.” Here is how the pricing shakes out:
- Free – $0 / unlimited contacts / 300 sends per day
- Micro- $25/month / no daily send limit
- Essential – $39 / no SendinBlue logo / advanced statistics
- Premium – $66 / send time optimization / landing page builder (new in 2018!) / unlimited marketing automation
- Enterprise – contact for pricing/dedicated account manager/services pack
SendinBlue does not require subscribers to sign any contracts, which means you can leave at any time if you so choose. The company accepts credit cards or PayPal, though I would definitely recommend trying the Free plan before buying, just in case.
Ease Of Use
SendinBlue’s UI is mostly blue and white, with other colors used to draw your attention to major functions/buttons. The dashboard displays how many contacts you have, the number of contacts who have opened your emails, the number of contacts who have clicked on your emails, and curiously, the number of contacts you’ve blacklisted. Below that are lists of your email, sms, and trigger marketing campaigns, as well as shortcuts for creating new ones. Toward the bottom, you can scroll through a list of your previous campaigns. The layout is designed for quick access to the features and information you’ll be using the most.
Contact lists can be built by hand or imported through a .txt or .csv file. SendinBlue helpfully provides a downloadable, formatted .csv template to help expedite the process. You can’t import directly from a preexisting email contact list, however, so you’ll have to export it into one of the formats above first.
The biggest hurdle to using SendinBlue (but also most competitors in the email marketing space) is figuring out how you want to use the automation features offered by this app. Setting up your preferences and preparing all the messages you want used for your automated chain of events will definitely take work, but once you have it figured out, you should be able to use it with minimal effort; the automation will run itself for you. For example, if you have an ecommerce business, you are almost certainly familiar with the phenomenon of abandoned carts. Using SendinBlue, you can set up a series of emails that will automatically send when the system detects one of these frustrating cart-ditchers, hopefully convincing them to return and complete that purchase. SendinBlue even has a feature allowing you to personalize these emails to your subscribers through the black magic of the internet.
Any major actions you take in SendinBlue are logged in an alert system that informs you when information has been added, saved, or removed. It feels a little gratuitous, but if you’re someone who appreciates maximum feedback, it may give you peace of mind. If it bothers you too much, you can disable it in the settings.
For those who want to manage their campaigns on their phones, there’s now a SendinBlue app for iOS and Android.
Email Campaign Creation
Campaign creation begins with a multi-tiered approach. You can begin by simply entering your campaign name, subject, sender (your) email, and sender name. Simple, easy. Veteran ESP users can select the advanced options to add features like unsubscribe links, tags, and custom fields.
SendinBlue gives you three options for designing your emails: a responsive design builder (which is available for all plans except Free and Micro, both of which offer it as a 60-day trial), a standard drag-and-drop editor, and a simple text editor into which you can paste your HTML code.
The responsive design-builder is geared toward mobile devices and offers several attractive email templates to choose from. SendinBlue really shines when it comes to images. Imported images can be extensively edited with a built-in image editor (it’s not Photoshop, but it’s head and shoulders beyond what most ESPs offer). Text options are more than adequate, with eight fonts to choose from. You can preview your creation to see what it will look like on monitors, tablets, and phones.
The HTML option comes with two tabs; one is for simple copy-pasting and the other is an editor, which I recommend you not use to edit already existing code.
Sending The Campaign
Once you have your email looking the way you want it, you have the option to send the campaign to every member of a selected contact list or to send it to segments of a list. The latter is accomplished by selecting a condition (it can be based on any of the data fields mentioned above) and adding additional conditionals as needed.
You’re then called on to look over a preview of your campaign and are given the option to send a proof to your proof list (for example, the email address you used to sign up for the account).
SendinBlue gives you very precise control, down to the minute, over how to schedule your campaign. My emails arrived within a minute of when I scheduled them.
The email I created with the responsive design tools displayed nicely on both my laptop and iPhone. I was a bit more concerned about the one I’d designed with the standard tools, but the campaign scaled to iPhone resolution without any serious problems.
Keep in mind that all of the above is true if you are running a traditional marketing campaign. If, on the other hand, you plan to make use of SendinBlue’s automation features, you will need to prepare all the messages beforehand and set up the chain of events that will trigger each email to send. This process is not exactly more difficult, but due to the advanced preparation required, might feel a bit more overwhelming. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, it is also the kind of thing where, once it is set up, it can basically run itself.
Email Campaign Reporting
SendinBlue offers a basic suite of reporting tools: opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and complaints. It does go a bit farther than many ESPs however, in your ability to map this information onto a timeline and see geographic information about where your emails are being opened (and on what device). You’ll also get some handy feedback on the design of your emails with an analysis of which links are being clicked. If you’re using the transactional system, you’ll have some additional information about bounced emails.
While SendinBlue doesn’t provide every tool a veteran campaigner might like, there’s more than enough here to help you make some good marketing decisions.
SendinBlue users have a number of options to turn to if they run into problems with the software:
- A resources page, with nine topics you can use to learn more about the various capabilities of the app.
- A ticket system for submitting questions and problems.
- While not explicitly a customer support line, the company can be reached by phone.
- General questions can be submitted by form.
- SendinBlue maintains a weekly blog that covers email marketing topics and alerts users about new features. Whether you read the changelogs or not, it is nice to know the developers are constantly improving their product.
- You can also keep up to date on blog topics via SendinBlue’s Facebook page.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Overall, SendinBlue has been well-received since its debut and serious complaints against the company are practically non-existent at the moment. That said, some users do have criticisms about the following:
- Limited Functionality: Several users complain that certain features (mergers, autoresponders) are either difficult to use or perceived to be not available.
- Deliverability Issues: A few users say their emails aren’t reaching enough of their customers.
- Opaque UI: A lot of customers express frustration about difficulty navigating the program’s layout and its initial learning curve.
- Limited Integrations: There aren’t too many easy integrations available for SendinBlue.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Customer reviews of SendinBlue have been overwhelmingly positive. The program ranks 4.1/5 on G2 Crowd, 9.2/10 on Verified Reviews, and 6.9/10 on trustradius. SendinBlue also displays a number of testimonials from prominent customers on its homepage. Here are some things customers like about SendinBlue:
- Cost: SendinBlue compares favorably to most ESPs in the affordability department and delivers a high degree of functionality at its price point.
- Reporting Tools: Users appreciate the depth and breadth of information offered by SendinBlue’s reporting tools.
- Responsive Customer Service: Many users praise the speed with which customer service returns their emails and calls.
- Easy-To-Use templates: While the number of templates is small, users find them easy to use and modify.
SendinBlue integrates with some extremely handy programs. The technically savvy can also make use of SendinBlue’s API to enhance functionality.
The following are available as plugins:
Google Analytics can be added as an integration. Additional apps can be integrated through Zapier.
SendinBlue’s security policy is pretty vague, though it claims to use “robust” protections. On up-to-date browsers, SendinBlue employs SSL technology. Data is stored on a secure server site and is protected by firewalls.
Anti-Spam Policy & Protection
SendinBlue claims to have a zero tolerance policy towards spam. All contact lists operate on an opt-in basis, and SendinBlue reserves the right to suspend accounts suspected of spam without warning. People who have gotten spam from a SendinBlue user can report the account.
When we last checked in with SendinBlue, they had distinguished themselves by providing impressive bang for your buck. Now, with prices holding steady and new features coming online, SendinBlue remains a great choice for frugal businesses and individuals who need to run modest campaigns. Even with new features like landing pages and increasing automation, the bottom line has remained relatively consistent.
Veteran marketers may be turned off by the limited number of integrations available, although the fact that the pricing remains excellent at higher volumes may help ease that pain. Once the company has worked the bugs out of its new automation system, it will become a significantly better tool for larger operations.
Given the amount of money you could potentially save by using SendinBlue and the ability to test it for free, there’s little excuse not to try it and see if it meets your marketing needs.