MailChimp is known for their namesake app for sending beautifully formatted email newsletters and its wide range of accompanying apps. If you need a simple way to send email newsletters without touching code, they've got the apps for you. But if you'd rather send hand-coded emails from your own apps, they've got a service for you, too: Mandrill (which has recently rebranded as MailChimp Transactional).
It all started when Amazon released their Simple Email Service, a basic email sending services that lets you send emails via their API and little else. The MailChimp team then put together their own integration with Amazon SES, adding statistics, visual reports, tags and more to Amazon's basic feature set.
But that wasn't enough. A year later, after having sent thousands of emails and with a list of desired features in hand, MailChimp launched Mandrill, their own transactional email service. Built with the experience the MailChimp team already had with running their newsletter app and SES integrations, Mandrill was built to be the transactional service that fit all the needs they already knew people needed with an email sending service. And now, Mandrill has become an MailChimp add-on, MailChimp Transitional, with MailChimp-style templates and automations, and all of your subscribers and transactional email contacts in one app.
With Mandrill, you'll find an API and SMTP server for sending emails, one that's optimized to make sending emails as fast as possible. But that's far from all. There's also a dashboard that'll show detailed stats and searchable logs of your past 30 days worth of email sending, along with tags and metadata you define. You can store your templates in Mandrill, and it'll automatically inline your CSS and create plain text versions of your emails from your email HTML. You can even split test your transactional emails, add rules to your message sending, receive incoming messages and route them where you need them, or schedule emails to be sent when you want.
Then, there's the extra features to make sure your emails will actually get delivered. All Mandrill accounts include custom SPF and DKIM records, and can send your emails from a private IP address or IP pool. Then, if you still end up having emails marked as spam, Mandrill has automated feedback loops setup with internet service providers and email services, so you'll automatically know about any spam complaints your messages receive. You can even test your email templates against spam filters in Mandrill, to be as certain as possible that your messages will go through.
A great transactional email service is one you won't have to actually look at much, since it'll be running behind the scenes delivering emails automatically without you having to worry about that. Mandrill will do that job well, but it'll also entice you to check its app a bit more than you might with other services, with the wealth of other features it offers. And, since every account gets the same features, and you only have to pay for the emails you send, Mandrill's an affordable option to send your emails that'll take care of even more of your email sending needs that you might have expected.
- Check Mandrill Status: http://status.mandrillapp.com/
- Mandrill Documentation: https://mandrillapp.com/docs/
- Mandrill Integrations: https://bitbucket.org/mailchimp
Updated February 26, 2016 with info about Mandrill's transition to MailChimp Transactional.