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SendinBlue Review: Best Email Marketing Software for E-Commerce

Our 2017 research and analysis of email marketing software leads us to again recommend SendinBlue as the best email marketing software for e-commerce businesses. We chose SendinBlue from dozens of email marketing software options. To understand how we selected it, you can find our methodology and a complete list of email marketing software vendors on our best picks page.

SendinBlue gives e-commerce businesses the ability to send a variety of types of email marketing messages from just one platform. Here's a breakdown of why it's our best pick.

What makes SendinBlue such an attractive option for e-commerce businesses is that you can use it for all of your marketing, transactional and text messaging needs. Many of the software options we looked at offered one of these types of services, but not all three.

Email marketing messages

The software includes most of the tools needed to create professional-looking email marketing campaigns, which are email blasts you send to numerous contacts at one time to keep them informed of company news, promote products and offer discounts.

Editor's note: looking for information about email marketing software? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partner will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Transactional emails

SendinBlue also lets you send transactional emails, which are messages you send to individual customers after they take certain actions, such as make a purchase, forget their password or leave items in their shopping cart.

Unlike email marketing messages, which can be immediately created and sent, you have to do some technical work first to take advantage of the software's transactional services. Specifically, you need to connect your website to SendinBlue's SMTP, which is what's used to send out the emails, and its application programming interface (API), which links your website information with the software. You sync your website and software by copying and pasting a script SendinBlue provides in your website source code.

SMS messages

The software also offers the ability to send customers SMS messages, commonly known as text messages. With SendinBlue SMS services, you can send promotional messages to large numbers of customers, or transactional messages to individual customers.

While there is an added cost for sending SMS messages, we like that it's an option if you want it. Most of the other software we investigated did not offer text-message services at all.

While SendinBlue doesn't have all of the bells and whistles that some other software offers, it does have most of the features needed to create professional-looking emails.

List builder

The software provides numerous ways in which you can build your list of contacts. You can add in email address individually, or as a group from a .txt or .csv file saved on your computer. You can also synchronize contact lists from some programs you may be already using. The programs SendinBlue integrates with are:

  • PrestaShop
  • Magento
  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Salesforce
  • Shopify
With SendinBlue you can sync contacts you have in programs you may already be using, such as Wordpress.

Once email addresses are saved in the software, you can create a small profile for each that includes the customer's full name and mobile phone number, which is used to create SMS subscriber lists.

The software gives you the option of creating as many lists as you like. This gives you the ability to create one master list, and several sub-lists in case you don't want to send every email to every subscriber. In addition, you can break down lists even further with segmentation tools that allow you to really target your emails.

Email analytics

SendinBlue gives a detailed look at how each campaign, both email and SMS, is faring. For each email campaign, the software provides a variety of statistics, such as open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribes, and how many were sent to bad addresses. Additionally, there are more detailed analytics on specific geographic locations where emails were opened and the devices, email clients and Web browsers they were opened with. This added data wasn't offered by all of the software we examined.

Real-time statistics for SMS messages are also available. The software tells how many text messages were received, delivered and replied to. In addition, you can see details on how many bounced because of an incorrect number and how many customers unsubscribed from the service after receiving it.

In addition to looking at the data within the software's platform, you can also export the statistics in a PDF or Excel file to your computer.

Mobile viewer

One tool we found especially valuable was the mobile viewer within the responsive email builder. This lets you see exactly how an email will look on both smartphones and tablets. We like that you're given previews for both smartphones and tablets. Not all of the software we considered provided tablet previews.

Other features SendinBlue offers include the ability to create forms for your website to collect customer email addresses, trigger marketing tools that further automate your email marketing campaigns, and order tracking tools that integrate with your website's tracking script to track your customer's transactions.

SendinBlue offers a wide range of pricing plans. The software has free, monthly and pay-as-you-go plans. In addition, you can purchase SMS message and dedicated IP plans. We like how many choices SendinBlue offers, since most of the software we assessed didn't have such a wide variety of options.

Free plan

SendinBlue has a free plan for businesses that don't send out many messages each month. With this option you're limited to sending 300 emails a day and a total of 9,000 a month. In addition, you can only use the software's responsive email design builder for 60 days, you don't have access to some of the detailed analytics, and you must keep the SendinBlue logo on each email sent.

Pay as you go

Businesses that don't send many emails or don't have large contact lists, but want access to all the analytics, can choose a pay-as-you-go plan. With this plan, you purchase a block of credits – essentially electronic stamps – that are used for each email sent out. These plans include all of the software's features. You can purchase pay-as-you-go credits in seven different blocks:

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

Credits never expire in the pay-as-you-go-plan, so you can use them whenever you need.

Monthly subscription plans

Businesses with more substantial and regular email marketing needs can purchase monthly subscription plans that allow you to send emails to an unlimited number of contacts each month. There are seven monthly plans:

  • Micro: 40,000 emails per month for $9
  • Bronze: 60,000 emails per month for $48
  • Silver: 120,000 emails per month for $82
  • Gold: 350,000 emails per month for $216
  • Platinum: 750,000 emails per month for $418
  • Diamond: 3,000,000 emails per month for $754
  • Atomic: 15,000,000 emails per month for $2,433

All of the pricing is based on paying month-to-month. If you choose to pay annually, the cost drops by 20 percent.

Each of plans includes all of SendinBlue's features except the Micro plan, which does not remove SendinBlue branding from your emails and doesn't offer advanced reporting metrics.

If you choose the Gold plan or higher, a dedicated IP line is included for no extra charge.

SMS plan

In order to send text messages with the software, you have to purchase an SMS plan. You can purchase as few, or as many, text message credits as you like at one time. Each message is about $0.0134.

IP plan

The only other cost you may incur is for a dedicated IP line. For plans it's not included in, you can purchase a dedicated IP line for $145 a year. A dedicated IP line lets you to send email campaigns using your own domain name and signature. This helps protect your reputation and gives you a better chance of making sure emails get delivered.

What helps make SendinBlue so appealing is that it is easy to create and send out email marketing campaigns, transactional messages and SMS messages.

Email marketing

There are three different ways to create email marketing campaigns with this software. There's a responsive design builder, which allows you to create emails that are automatically optimized for mobile devices; a drag-and-drop editor that lets you create your own templates from scratch; and an HTML/simple text editor for advanced users who want to write their own code.

SendinBlue gives you the ability to create emails from scratch using its drag and drop editor.

With both the responsive design and drag-and-drop tools you create templates by adding different element blocks, such as logos, images, text, buttons and social sharing links, to a blank canvas. With the responsive tool you can also choose from a variety of pre-designed templates. You then customize each element block however you like. You can change each block's size and background color, add in your own text, choose the text size, font and color and insert your own images and photos.

Adding in social sharing links is especially easy. After inserting the social sharing element box into your message, you choose which social networking logos, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc., you want in your message and then add in the Web links for your specific pages on those networks. Not all of the software we examined offered such a wide range of social media logos or made it so simple to connect them to your individual pages, as SendinBlue does.

Once the email is designed, you test how it will look in different email clients and Web browsers, select the contacts you want it sent to, and then decide when you want it sent out.

Transactional messages

You create transactional emails in the same way you do regular email marketing campaigns. However, instead of creating new templates for each message, you typically create templates for each type of transactional email you send, such as order confirmation, password reset, etc. You then reuse those templates each time a customer takes one of those actions.

You can also add additional code into your website to automate the whole transactional email process. The software works in tandem with your website to automatically recognize when a purchase has been made and send a confirmation email accordingly, for example. We like that once you have completed the setup and designed templates, the entire transactional process is automated and completed without you having to take added steps. Not all of the software we considered offered as much automation as SendinBlue does.

SMS messages

Creating promotional text messages is extremely simple. First, you define who the message is being sent from, such as your business name, and then type out a message no longer than 160 characters. You then choose which customers you want the text sent to and decide when you want it delivered.

For transactional text messages, you need to add the SendinBlue code into your website as directed. This syncs the software with your website so the messages you've created in advance can be automatically sent to your customer's mobile devices.

In all, we were very pleased with the level of customer service we received from SendinBlue.To test what you can expect from the support team, we called the company twice posing as a new business owner interested in the software. Both times our call was promptly answered by representatives ready to respond to our questions. We spent between 10 and 15 minutes talking to the representatives each time we called. Over the course of both calls we discussed the different types of messages you can send, how easy the software is to use for those with no experience, the features it includes, what made it a good fit for e-commerce businesses, the available customer support and the various pricing plans. For each question, the representatives provided complete and thorough answers. By the time our calls were finished, we were left with a clear understanding of what SendinBlue offers. That wasn't the case with some of the other providers we contacted, some of whom had a hard time answering our questions and seemed uninterested in speaking with us.

In all, the SendinBlue support team can be reached by phone, email or online between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. (PST) Monday through Friday. In addition, the SendinBlue website includes an extensive help section featuring a host of user tutorials and FAQs on a wide range of topics, such as how to create your first email campaign, how to build a contact list, how to connect the software to your website for transactional purposes and how to implement automation strategies.

While we found a lot to like about SendinBlue, it does have some drawbacks. The biggest downside in our eyes is that it doesn't have all the features and tools some of the other software we looked at do. SendinBlue doesn't offer spam testing, stock photos or a mobile app. In addition, SendinBlue provides only a handful of pre-designed templates. Most of the other options we assessed had several hundreds to choose from. However, the vast majority of providers that offer all of these added features didn't allow you to send transactional emails or text messages. If having these added tools is important to you, we would encourage you to use SendinBlue for your transactional needs only, and choose another provider to handle your regular email marketing campaigns.

Another negative in our eyes is that there is no live-chat tool to contact the customer support team. We found that this tool can be very valuable, especially when trying to get help at night or on the weekend. Live-chat tools are an easy way to get your questions answered immediately. Not offering this could be a real negative in the eyes of some users.

Want to learn more about email marketing software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: looking for information about email marketing software? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partner will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.