It goes without saying that there are way too many email marketing solutions out there. So we won’t say it this time. Because this time we’ll be reviewing SendGrid, and this solution is not your typical email marketing tool.
With the ever-growing need and use cases of an up-and-running email marketing strategy, you’re right to take every tool review with a grain of salt. After all, many platforms will get the job done, but not many will focus on email deliverability as a priority. This is where SendGrid enters the equation.
SendGrid is an email delivery and marketing service. Think of it as a mass emailing and email marketing solution, with just enough functionality to cover all your needs while ensuring the highest deliverability in the market. Now isn’t that a treat?
But enough with the introduction, let’s cut to the chase and start this SendGrid review. We’ve collected everything there is to know about SendGrid in this article, so you get all the answers to the most frequently and infrequently asked questions in one article.
This SendGrid review will cover the tool’s functionality, pricing plans, how to get started, a detailed comparison with SendGrid alternatives, and more. So buckle up, and let’s get to it.
SendGrid is a customer communications company that offers email delivery, API, and marketing services. The Colorado-based company was founded in 2009, which makes it a relatively old player in the email game. In February 2019, SendGrid was acquired by Twilio – a leading customer engagement platform. This piece of information will make more sense once we get to SendGrid features later in this SendGrid review.
SendGrid now has over 80,000 customers, among whom we’ve got big names like Uber, Spotify, and Yelp.
In order to answer the most frequently asked question on “What is SendGrid used for?” we need to dive into SendGrid features. And let us tell you, there are plenty of features SendGrid packs while still keeping it organized. So let’s not waste any more time and get into the fruitful parts of this SendGrid review.
SendGrid has divided its platform into 2 main products – Email marketing and Email API. We’ll cover both as best as we can so you can understand what you are getting into.
SendGrid Features: Email Marketing
Unlike many email marketing solutions offered in the market, you will find yourself appreciating SendGrid’s simplicity. SendGrid offers the following features as part of its email marketing service:
- Email automation
- Signup forms
- Email testing
- Email design
- Email templates
- List management
- Email statistics
Now, if you compare SendGrid to more advanced platforms like ActiveCampaign and Hubspot, this might seem little to the naked eye. But don’t be fooled since this is, in fact, more than enough to organize and implement well-structured and highly converting email marketing for your company. Let’s break these down so you understand them better.
As with most of the platform, SendGrid keeps the Email automation features simple yet useful. You can create email flows to onboard new clients, set triggers for when a user needs to receive a specific email, and nurture your leads. SendGrid lets you use their design editor or HTML code editor to create the most suitable emails for your business. With a primary focus on deliverability and quality, you’ll appreciate SendGrid’s no-extras approach. That being said, though, SendGrid does offer advanced features too. So let’s keep going.
SendGrid’s Email automation allows you to easily adapt your automation over time, based on data. You can see which emails perform best, the progress of your automation, and adjust subject lines and content in real time. With many tools, this part can be complicated beyond words.
An essential part of all email marketing tools is providing signup forms for easier integration with marketing activities. SendGrid offers an easy solution to gather leads – embedding a signup form that you’ll connect to your Email automation, and customizing it to your brand. Another cool thing is that SendGrid will host your landing page on its hosting, which is great for when you don’t have a dedicated hosting provider but have way too many landing pages.
SendGrid features also include reCAPTCHA checks so you know your leads are not bots. From then on, it’s smooth sailing.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. One of the best SendGrid features is Email testing. This feature allows you to test how your email is going to look in recipients’ inboxes depending on their browsers and devices – Gmail, Outlook, Android, iOS, you name it. This will help you catch unexpected errors ahead of time and fix them.
But the best part of SendGrid’s Email testing is testing your email against spam filters to troubleshoot before testing. Email testing gives you individual scores and allows you to improve email deliverability.
With Email testing you can also see which links are missing, broken, or good to go so you don’t lose clients over a broken link.
Email Design and Email Templates
SendGrid features make this tool accessible to both novice users and developers alike. You can create email designs using their templates or visual drag and drop editor, and you can design your email using HTML. The HTML editor has a side-by-side coding and previewing option so you can see how your emails turn out. On top of that, you can easily import your own template either by uploading it or pasting the HTML code.
To sum up this part of our SendGrid review, SendGrid offers email marketing solutions to users of all kinds. We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again, with SendGrid, the focus is on quality communication with your audience versus feature-packed complexities.
SendGrid Features: Email API
SendGrid’s Email API makes it easy for businesses to reach their customers in the best way possible. SendGrid offers proven deliverability, purpose-built MTA, fast troubleshooting, account management, permissions, and more. This helps streamline the collaboration between different teams in your company more efficiently. Everything to make the process smooth both for the sender and the recipient – dynamic email templates, real-time email validation, and a partnership with global mailbox providers like Outlook, Gmail, and Verizon Media.
Now that we’ve covered SendGrid features and how they can be helpful for your business, it’s time to tap into the juicier parts of this SendGrid review. We’re talking about SendGrid pricing, of course.
The good thing is that SendGrid does offer a freemium model, the bad thing is, the whole SendGrid pricing is a bit complicated. Just like with the 2 main products, SendGrid pricing is also divided between the two. You get separate pricing plans for Email API and Marketing Campaigns.
SendGrid Pricing: Email API Plans
Email API pricing plans offer users 4 options to choose from:
Let’s explore each one individually.
Email API Plans: Free
If there’s one thing we appreciate in a piece of software is the freemium model. Whether your business is just getting ready to launch its email marketing activities or you’re looking into a new tool to invest in, the Free plan is a great place to start. It offers you the basic functionality of the software, just enough for you to see if it meets your needs before you commit.
SendGrid Free plan, as seen with many tools, comes with a bunch of limitations. First off, it only allows you to send 100 emails per day, which means you can only realistically have 100 subscribers.
The Free Email API plan includes the following features:
- APIs, SMTP Relay, and Webhooks
- Delivery Optimization Tools
- Dynamic Template Editor
- Insightful Analytics
- Ticket Support
- Deliverability Insights
Basically, with the Free plan, you still get SendGrid’s main benefit – unrivaled deliverability. And that’s pretty much all you get with this plan. It does not let you validate email addresses or sync with your team, as there’s no user management option in the free version. You’re also only limited to support tickets, without live chat and similar methods.
However, what you do get is how to send emails that reach your recipient’s inbox and how to optimize them.
Email API Plans: Essentials (starts at $19.95/mo)
To be blunt, there isn’t much difference between the Essentials and Free plans of the SendGrid pricing model. The Essentials plan offers you the same functionality as in Free, however, with much more flexibility as far as monthly email count goes. You’ll also be able to get guaranteed support via live chat, which the Free plan lacked.
If you’re not looking into getting email validation, dedicated IP addresses, and user management, the Essentials plan will give you everything necessary for your email marketing needs. And for a maximum of 50,000 emails per month, you would have to pay $19.95, which is quite reasonable.
Email API Plans: Pro (starts at $89.95/mo)
Now, this is where the SendGrid pricing actually gets interesting, surely, with a big jump in costs. On top of the functionality included in Free and Essentials plans, with the Pro version you also get:
- 2,500 Email Validations
- Dedicated IP Included 🎉
- Subuser Management
- Single Sign-On (SSO)
Some of the other differentiators include phone support and dynamic template + testing. The price jump comes down to $89.95/mo if you’re planning to send about 100,000 emails a month. For anything higher than 200,000 emails, you’ll be charged a fee starting at $249.
You’re going to have to do some calculations to understand whether this investment makes sense for your business and your audience. However, the added benefits are very tempting.
Email API Plans: Premier
As you might have guessed, the highest tier plan with every software is custom-made based on your needs and negotiations with the sales team. The main benefit with the Premier tier is going to be the number of emails you can validate, which is twice as many as in the Pro plan. The other features remain the same.
SendGrid Pricing: Marketing Campaign Plans
Unlike the Email API services, the pricing in Marketing Campaigns consists of 3 tiers – Free, Basic, and Advanced. The price will depend on a few functional differences and the subscriber–emails/mo factor. Let’s briefly go over each plan.
Marketing Campaign Plans: Free
The SendGrid freemium model for Marketing Campaigns is as good as the highest tier because you get everything the platform has to offer, except for dedicated IPs. The remaining differences fall into the limitations category, namely, support, users, signup forms, etc.
To be more specific, here’s what you get to test out in the Free plan:
- Design & Code Editors
- A/B Testing & Actionable Insights
- 3 Email Testing Credits
- 1 Signup Form
- Ticket Support
- 1 Teammate
All of this is available to you with a maximum of 2000 subscribers and 6000 emails/mo. For small businesses, this is a great place to start.
Marketing Campaign Plans: Basic (starts at $15/mo)
The good thing about SendGrid pricing is that the functionality does not differ too much among the plans. You only get certain features in a limited capacity and the emphasis is on contacts count and emails per month.
The Basic plan offers the same features as in Free and Advanced plans. The major downside of the Basic plan is that you don’t get access to Automation or Dedicated IPs. For up to 5000 subscribers and 15,000 emails per month, you’re going to have to pay $15/mo. Here’s the breakdown of the features:
- Design & Code Editors
- A/B Testing & Actionable Insights
- 10 Email Testing Credits
- 5 Signup Forms
- Ticket & Chat Support
- 1 Teammate
If you have a higher budget to invest in an email marketing tool, I’d suggest looking into the Advanced plan. But if you’re not interested in the automation feature and dedicated IP address, opt for the Basic plan.
Marketing Campaign Plans: Advanced (starts at $60/mo)
Finally, a SendGrid plan that has it all. You get everything mentioned in the Free plan, topped with a dedicated IP address and all of these at a larger scale.
- Design & Code Editors
- A/B Testing & Actionable Insights
- 60 Email Testing Credits
- 15 Signup Forms
- Guaranteed Response Times on Ticket, Chat, & Phone Support
- 1,000 Teammates
- Dedicated IP Included 🎉
In the Advanced plan, you can have 15,000 subscribers and send up to 50,000 emails per month for the price of $60 monthly. If deliverability is of utmost importance to you along with testing options, teammate sync, and better support, the Advanced plan is the best option for you.
With the SendGrid features and pricing covered to the brim, it’s time for by far the most interesting part of this SendGrid review. We know this is what most of the readers are interested in – the comparison between SendGrid and its prominent alternatives.
We’ve decided to test SendGrid features and pricing against 3 similar tools – Mailchimp, Mailgun, and Sendinblue. Without beating around the bush any more than we have to, let’s dive right in.
SendGrid vs Mailchimp
It’s a bit hard to compare Mailchimp and SendGrid at first sight because of how different the functionalities are between the two. Mailchimp is an older tool and is mainly directed at expanding its email marketing solution to cover as many needs as possible. As a result, it also comes in the form of a higher budget investment. Whereas SendGrid is priced more reasonably for a well-working email solution that focuses on deliverability and insights.
The main features-related differences in the Mailchimp vs SendGrid comparison come down to advanced marketing-related activities. Where Mailchimp focuses on behavioral targeting, advanced segmentation, landing page creation & integration, customer journey, and customer profiling, SendGrid doesn’t offer any of those.
Mailchimp is also a lot more beneficial for ecommerce businesses with features like predicted demographics, contact tags, engagement metrics, audience dashboard, and marketing CRM. If you’re searching for a simpler solution, we can’t recommend SendGrid enough. But if you need more features to reach and keep nurturing your audience, Mailchimp is a proven and reliable choice for thousands.
SendGrid vs Mailgun
Mailgun is an Email API service that allows businesses to send, receive, track and improve email communication with clients. As a service, Mailgun is a lot closer to the functionality of SendGrid, which will make this comparison a lot more technical.
Both tools focus on delivery, email validation, and testing, enabling users to improve their email deliverability and actually reach the inboxes of their targeted recipients.
Mailgun was built around the same time as SendGrid, back in 2010, and quickly gained popularity due to its boastful features. Compared to SendGrid, Mailgun pricing is a bit more affordable. It also has a freemium model, which is far more functional and with a larger email count per month.
Mailgun boasts of having a 97.4% delivery rate, which is .4% higher than that of SendGrid.
Now the main difference that will tip the scale towards SendGrid is that Mailgun, after all, is an email service for developers, not as much for marketers. Even with their latest acquisition of Mailjet, which is an email marketing solution, it’s still lacking the end-to-end experience you get with SendGrid.
SendGrid vs Sendinblue
Next in line for SendGrid alternatives is Sendinblue. Sendinblue is a cloud-based relationship marketing software that offers a wide range of marketing solutions. Some of these include email marketing, transactional emails, marketing automation, CRM, retargeting ads, landing pages, and more.
Where Sendinblue lacks marketing features, Sendinblue has plenty of those for omnichannel marketing campaigns, coupled with CRM and sales-oriented features. For most of the basic features like contact segmentation and lists import, Sendinblue is better equipped than SendGrid.
Now for SendGrid’s wildcard – deliverability. Sendinblue improves deliverability based on testing, whereas SendGrid focuses on IPs and delivery protocols to improve its rates. Sendinblue features a built-in solution for SMS marketing, where SendGrid uses API integration with its parent company, Twilio.
Interestingly enough, all of these added benefits do not translate into skyrocketing high prices for Sendinblue. So the real question here is whether you need a purely functional email marketing solution or a more comprehensive digital marketing solution for your business. That’s the ultimate decision maker here.
SendGrid Pros and Cons
Now that we’re finally done with the main descriptive points of our SendGrid review, it’s time to present you with a short summary of SendGrid pros and cons.
|SendGrid Pros||SendGrid Cons|
|Easy to use||Limited functionality for omnichannel marketing|
|High email deliverability||Too developer-oriented if you want custom emails|
|Growing feature-base||Pricing is high for larger count emails and lists|
Final Rating and Conclusion
At long last, we have reached the end of our SendGrid review. But before we jump to our final review and rating, let’s quickly run a recap of what we’ve learned. SendGrid is a robust email marketing solution with a primary focus on email deliverability. The tool is simple enough for marketers and developers alike, but complex enough to deliver on its promise. It was acquired by Twilio, which also lets the tool utilize Twilio’s benefits such as SMS marketing.
We tried to cover everything you need to know about this industry-leading product – SendGrid features, pricing, a thorough comparison with rival tools, pros and cons, and everything in between. And what we have to say will not come off as a surprise – SendGrid is amazing. It does the job well and with a freemium model you can test it out for free to see whether or not it fits your needs.
That being said, we recommend you give it a try. Sign up for the free plan on the SendGrid website and put the platform to a test yourself.