SendinBlue Review

Phone Number
(844) 338-5050
Date Established
2012
Location
Paris, France (Regional Office in Seattle, WA)

Overview

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.

Pricing

As is the industry standard, SendinBlue offers both monthly subscription and pay-as-you-go plans. Frugal marketers with small campaigns will be pleased to note that SendinBlue offers a pretty generous free plan, as well as a very affordable “Micro” plan. The only catch with these plans is that your emails will contain the SendinBlue logo. The free plan also caps the number of emails you can send in one day at 300. A complimentary dedicated IP is included, starting at the Gold level.

Monthly Subscription Plans:

  • Free – $0 / 9,000 emails
  • Micro – $7.37 / 40,000 emails
  • Bronze – $39 / 60,000 emails
  • Silver – $66 / 120,000 emails
  • Gold – $173 / 350,000 emails
  • Platinum – $334 / 750,000 emails
  • Diamond – $603 / 3,000,000 emails
  • Atomic – $1,946 / 15,000,000 emails

Pay-As-You-Go Plans:

SendinBlue’s a la carte plan, which it calls PAYG, uses a credit-based system for sending emails. One credit buys one email. Credits do not expire over time.

  • $27 / 5,000 credits
  • $47 / 10,000 credits
  • $81 / 20,000 credits
  • $134 / 50,000 credits
  • $228 / 100,000 credits
  • $792 / 500,000 credits
  • $1,330 / 1,000,000 credits

Additional Services and Fees

  • Dedicated IP Plan – If you want to be able to sign your emails with your own domain name, you can purchase this plan for $145/year (per IP). Note that this plan is included with Gold or higher monthly subscription-based plans.
  • SMS Campaigns – If your marketing strategy includes shooting SMS text messages directly to contacts’ cell phones, SendinBlue has you covered. It uses a credit system similar to the PAYG plan, although the credits are not interchangeable. $1.34 will buy you 100 SMS credits.
  • Transactional Emails – SendinBlue has a slightly different system for sending SMTP emails as opposed to newsletter campaigns (which the main site is geared toward). These emails are usually sent to specific customers to complete a transaction or circumnavigate bounces for more sensitive emails, and provide some additional tools for doing so. Transactional emails count as normal emails in terms of credits, but the maximum number you can send will be capped. You’ll need to contact SendinBlue directly to request activation of this feature.

Ease of Use

sendin

SendinBlue recently made some fairly major changes to its UI, making it both easier to navigate and easier on the eyes.

The UI remains 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 recent change to SendinBlue is that it now offers automation, the previous absence of which had relegated SendinBlue to being an excellent-but-limited tool for simple email marketing campaigns. The feature was in beta when I looked at it, but it already goes a long way toward setting up logic chains that will allow you to manage far more complex campaigns. According to SendinBlue, automation is free “for the length of the beta,” which seems to suggest it might be a paid feature down the road.

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. Veterans can select the advanced options to add features like unsubscribe links, tags, and custom fields. Interestingly, SendinBlue allows you to do something many ESPs do not, and that’s embed images and add attachments. The former comes with the warning that it increases your chances of triggering anti-spam filters and caps the number of emails you can send out to 5,000, the latter allows you to attach a .doc, .csv, .pdf, .txt, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, or .png of size 5mb or less.

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 15 templates to choose from. While that’s a small number, the editor is way above par in ways that largely make up for the low number, assuming you’re willing to put slightly more work in. SendinBlue really shines when it comes it 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.

Previously, the responsive design builder had only been available for a limited trial, leaving the far less impressive standard builder as the only alternative for those on a tight budget. I’m pleased to report that this is no longer the case. All users now have permanent access to responsive design builder. The standard builder is still in there as a legacy perk for the handful of people who might prefer it.

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, of when you’d like 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.

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.

Customer Service

SendinBlue users have a number of options to turn to if they run into problems with the software:

  • A resources page, featuring seven tutorials and eight FAQ headings. I was able to find most of the information I was looking for within.
  • A ticket system for submitting questions and problems.
  • While not explicitly a customer support line, the company can be reached by phone at (844) 338-5050.
  • General questions can be submitted by form.
  • SendinBlue maintains a weekly blog that covers email marketing topics and alerts users about new features.
  • You can also keep up to date on blog topics via SendinBlue’s Facebook page.

Negative Reviews and 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.
  • Automation is buggy: Noting that it’s still new and in beta, a few customers have encountered bugs and delays with some of the triggers.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews of SendinBlue have been overwhelmingly positive. The program ranks 4.2/5 on G2 Crowd, 8.9/10 on Verified Reviews, and 7.3/10 on trustradius. SendinBlue also displays a number of testimonials from prominent customers on its home page. 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.

Integrations

SendinBlue integrates with some extremely handy programs you might be familiar with. 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, like the ever-popular Salesforce, can be integrated through Zapier.

Security

SendinBlue’s security policy is pretty vague, though it promises uses “robust” protections. On up-to-date browsers, SendinBlue employs SSL technology. Data is stored in a secure server site and is protected with firewalls. You can read about SendinBlue’s security policy here.

Anti-Spam Policy and 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.

You can review the Anti-Spam policy here.

Final Verdict

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.

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.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he's not pushing keys or swiping screens, he's probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.
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