If you’re reading this then you where probably slapped by MailChimp’s latest announcement to merge Mandrill into MailChimp. You may be outraged because you were on their free tier which is going away. Personally I don’t agree with your rage. In fact, I think you’re a freeloader.

That being said, I was a paying customer on Mandrill’s smallest plan. I was paying 10 bucks a month and using about 17k of my 25k allotment. I can’t be mad at them for the change. But since I am being faced with a 3x increase to my monthly expense, I’m definitely voting with my dollar.

Drawing the line in the sand, I have moved to SparkPost for my transactional email needs.

In a sea of transactional providers, SparkPost stood out to me because of their pricing. Initially their pricing model was going to allow me to move to them without incurring any additional overhead. At the time of Mandrill’s announcement, SparkPost was offering 40k emails per month for only $10.

Since then, their pricing was updated to be 100k emails for free per month. I’ll be the first person to say that I’m fearful that this is just a bait and switch to get customers over from Mandrill during this trying time. I’m also very conscious that I’ve been downgraded from an honorable paying customer to a scummy freeloader the likes of the folks I mentioned previously.

I’m willing to take this risk because for me, switching providers was a trivial task. In fact, it only took me a few hours the other evening. Domain verification was simple. There was no warm up period for sending either, 10k sends per day available right out of the gate. This ease of transition is why I’m not discussing code changes in depth, it just doesn’t matter. Plus, SparkPost has some pretty great documentation and code samples!

On top of the pricing, I found SparkPost to be a bit more active on Twitter than the competition and do appear to be very developer friendly (which is part of their pitch). Their customer list impressed me as well. With the likes of Twitter and PayPal in the ranks, I have confidence that they are making enough cash to be able to sustain their new freemium model pricing.

The only pain point I’ve had thus far is that they do not seem to offer a way to just drop an unsubscribe link in an email and they do the rest. Mandrill had this, SendGrid seems to as well. Perhaps I’m not understanding something, but it looked like I would have to do some implementation on my end to handle a webhook.

That’s cool though, this limitation made me realize that I really should be handling my suppression list within my system. Owning the suppression logic means that if this were to happen again, I wouldn’t need to worry about migrating suppression data between providers.

The other thing I realized is that I should have been utilizing SMTP for sending instead of an API. Not to say that the API implementation is bad, it’s just that it would take even less time to swap out providers if all I had to do swap out SMTP server information. Oh and less code dependencies too!

If you’re still shopping for a new transactional email provider, feel free to check out my Transaction ESPs list on Twitter!