Mandrill is a transactional email platform that was created by MailChimp. It is a delivery service which gives you the option to create personalized e-commerce emails, including 1:1 emails, along with automated transactional emails that are needed for program maintenance. This includes order confirmations, welcoming messages, or items like a password reset.
MailChimp also acts as an email delivery service option, but with a very different purpose. Mandrill is for transactional emails. MailChimp is for bulk email services. You can send a campaign to multiple recipients at the same time to expand your marketing presence.
How Mandrill Works with MailChimp
When you work with MailChimp, then you are given the opportunity to choose from one of several payment tiers. Popular options include the Forever Free tier and the Pay As You Go tier. There are also several monthly plans that are scalable for your consideration if you are looking for a bulk email service provider. Each plan offers a unique set of features so that your email marketing needs can be effectively met.
Mandrill is a paid add-on that can be used with any monthly plan that is offered by MailChimp. Forever Free and Pay As You Go are ineligible at this time for Mandrill. You’re given the opportunity to test the effectiveness of Mandrill with 2,000 free email sends. Then you purchase blocks of email credits that are added to your monthly rate.
You can try Mandrill if you’re not on a monthly plan, but to continue using it after the trial period, you must upgrade your MailChimp plan to a monthly plan.
Subscriber Management: Mandrill vs MailChimp
Mandrill is a recipient-based system. You can’t store recipient information or contact lists. You’ll need to manage this data in your own application or database. You can then pass this data onto Mandrill with a SMTP message or an API request when you need a transactional email to be triggered.
MailChimp is a subscriber-based system. People subscribe to your email marketing list when they’ve give you express permission to have their address added to your marketing lists.
Creating and sending emails is pretty easy with both platforms. With Mandrill, you will be required to have API and HTML knowledge in order to send out messages. This is because the templates that are used in Mandrill are a little different than those in MailChimp, so you must use accepted coding in order to send out your messages. Then, when you’re ready to send, you must use SMTP integration or the native API.
MailChimp offers tools that allow you to send out emails without any HTML knowledge. It’s not quite a drag-and-drop system, but it’s about as close to one as you can get while still being able to send customized messages.
Mandrill Requires DKIM and SPF Records
In order to use Mandrill, you’ll need to verify ownership of all sending domains. You’ll also be required to add DKIM and SPF records. Mandrill will not send out any emails from domains that are unverified. Emails will not be sent out without a valid DKIM or SPF record either. This includes public domains that might be used for your email, such as Gmail, Outlook, or Hotmail.
Because Mandrill has been created by MailChimp, it can be difficult to receive immediate support if you have a problem submitting your records or verifying domain ownership. No phone support is offered on either platform, so you’re forced to wait for online support or review the video tutorials that are available. You can’t just call someone and work out an answer.
There are also mobile platform issues that Mandrill and MailChimp may have for some email recipients. Windows phones are not supported by these systems.
What Are the Costs of Mandrill?
Mandrill credits are sold in blocks. Each block gives you the opportunity to send out 25,000 emails. Once you reach the end of a billing cycle, however, the unused credit blocks that you may have purchased will expire. Discounts are built into the pricing system for Mandrill, so if you send out a lot of transactional emails each month, you can save a lot of money.
If you were to send out 50,000 emails through Mandrill each month, it would cost you an extra $40 above the monthly plan you’re using through MailChimp. You then have the option to purchase a dedicated IP for $29.95 per month.
MailChimp monthly plans for up to 50,000 subscribers, which would include unlimited emails per month, would be $240 per month. This would be for the basic services that MailChimp can provide. You also have the option of adding the Pro Plan from MailChimp to your monthly plan and your Mandrill add-on for an additional $199 per month.
With the pro add-on, you receive access to specific advantages that the basic monthly plan is unable to provide. This includes the following features.
- Advanced Segmentation. You are able to segment conditions so that your customer data can become granular.
- Pro Merge Fields. You’re given 50 additional merge fields so that there is more available data storage.
- Timewarp. You can schedule your emails to be sent at an appropriate time in any time zone.
- Predicted Demographics. This feature allows you to see the possible age range and gender of each subscriber. You can then look at your engagement figures and mine other analytical data points to determine if your email marketing strategies can be refined.
MailChimp offers monthly plan subscribers who opt for the Pro Plan free access to Mandrill. If you activate Mandrill as a Pro user, then you’ll receive two free blocks of transactional email sends every month.
So at the 50,000 subscriber level, you can pay $280 per month for MailChimp and Mandrill and then do all of the transactional email work on your own based on data and metrics you’ve personally gathered. You could also pay $439 per month and be a Pro user, giving you better data access so that your metrics are more niche specific to your transactional needs.
Is Mandrill Free Like Other Websites Claim?
No. Mandrill is a simple transactional email program, but it does not offer up to 12,000 free emails per month. You’re given a 2,000 email trial period of your account qualifies. Once that has been used, you must either purchase blocks of emails each month or take advantage of the free blocks that are offered on the Pro Plan upgrade.
But if you make the investment, emails become easy. That ultimately makes life easier.
Ultimately, the Mandrill vs MailChimp debate is about the services you need. The programs are different enough that you’re talking apples vs oranges. If you need bulk email marketing, then you need MailChimp. If you need transactional emails, you need Mandrill.
It’s that simple.