SendinBlue, which begins at $25 per user per month for the Lite plan, is an email marketing solution aimed squarely at small to midsize businesses (SMBs). It sports a well-designed and easy to learn interface that covers not just email marketing but also has support for newsletters, some automation, and basic customer relationship management (CRM) functionality. Already an outstanding value for businesses requiring email marketing plus SMS functionality, SendinBlue is ramping up its feature set for 2020. Coming this year is additional language support (including Italian and and Dutch), a new editor for forms, the ability to support different accounts per company, and an expanded App Center and integration page.
In 2019, Sendinblue announced it was partnering with Vonage by adopting Vonage’s Nexmo APIs as the sole provider of SMS for SendinBlue customers. The partnership adds additional email capabilities to Vonage’s platform while offering an alternative to transactional messaging for SendinBlue’s customers.
Overall, we liked its ease of use, and SendinBlue’s Setup> Design> Receipients> Confirmation workflow is powerful considering its four-step simplicity now even more so with the new drag and drop builder. However, even with these improvements, it still doesn’t offer templates as effective as our Editors’ Choice pick, Campaigner.
Pricing and Features
All of SendinBlue’s plans include unlimited contacts, with tiered pricing based on the number of emails you want to send each month. Its free plan includes unlimited contacts and 300 emails per day. Its aforementioned Lite plan costs $25 per month for 40,000 emails, its Essential plan costs $39 per month for 60,000 emails, and its Premium plan costs $66 per month for 120,000 emails. There is also an Enterprise plan with custom pricing for companies that need to exceed the 120,000 email threshold (and, ideally, for companies needing 350,000 emails per month or more).
SendinBlue’s free plan essentially works as a feature-constrained free trial, without a timeout period and does not require a credit card. To sign up, you just need to enter your company name, email address, and a password. You must confirm your email address, but you can get started creating a campaign, importing contacts and completing your profile in the meantime. Usually these emails arrive immediately but we didn’t see ours until several minutes after we signed up, though we did receive a Welcome email from the CEO of the company in addition to the confirmation email. The Welcome email included links to articles and videos to help us get started plus a link to the Help section and email support.
Creating a Subscriber List
As part of your profile, you must explain how you got the email addresses you’re planning to upload. You also have to tick a box confirming that your contacts have opted in, which triggers a pop-up window explaining CAN-SPAM Act compliance.
Overall, my experience creating and matching fields was a little convoluted with SendinBlue as compared to some of the competition, such as Campaign Monitor. With manual input, you can’t add custom fields but you can with uploads or from a submission form. After you import your file, you have to map the fields to SendinBlue’s corresponding fields. It recognizes email addresses and names but not dates, such as birthdays or other text fields such as gender. You can opt to not upload those unmatched fields or create a new attribute and field type. For instance, for birthday, you would add a date field, and for gender, a text field. Overall, the process could use some simplification.
When users are successfully uploaded, you get an email alert, which is helpful if you have really large lists. You can also export your contacts at any time or even set the export to happen daily. Users can be segmented based on the data you’ve collected from them as well as through a wide variety of automatic triggers, such as the date they were entered into the system, whether they’ve ever read or opened an email, among many other segmentation criteria.
One of the first to-do items when getting SendinBlue Ready for use is importing contacts. It is easy enough to import contacts from spreadsheets or .CSV files as you would with most solutions. To add contacts, you can import files (CSV or TXT), copy and paste from a list, or add manually. You can also upload email and SMS contacts that you want blacklisted (such as contacts who have opted out via a different service). Defaults fields are name, surname, email, and SMS.
SendinBlue goes even further as it understands some customers may be moving over from competing products. To ease in the transition, SendinBlue makes it easy to bring your data and contact information from solutions like MailChimp, Sendgrid, Getresponse, and Active Campaign through an easy to use Integration option. While this helps SMBs make the transition between services, note that it isn’t always a one to one conversion. If you leave out fields in the mapping process they will not be synced within the integration. It is only mandatory to map at least an Email or SMS field.
Creating a campaign is simple. Give it a name, subject line, sender email, and name. Advanced settings include customizing the “to” field to add the subscriber’s name, use a custom Unsubscribe page for the campaign, add tags, add an attachment (5MB maximum), embed images, and enable mirror link, which allows subscribers to view the email in their browser. Next, you choose a template builder, either responsive design or HTML simple text. Responsive design is just what is sounds like: a design that adapts to the size of the screen, making it instantly mobile-friendly.
We used the new drag and drop form builder to create a newsletter template and found it quick and responsive. You can either start by dragging and dropping elements to the page or use a pre-designed template. If you start without a template, then the newsletter is pre-populated with a logo, image, text, and button but you can swap out elements. Do consider that many of the elements have embedded code, so you can run into errors where the design isn’t an exact representation of what you were trying to build. Businesses will value the addition of certain elements like an anti-robot CAPTCHA functionality. There’s also a new landing page builder, a tool that was created from customer feedback.
When we finished designing and tried to send a test, we were told we had to complete our profile. This meant we had to exit the design tool and click over to our profile, which seemed unnecessary when a simple pop-up dialog with a “Complete” button would have sufficed. You can also preview emails in your web browser. In addition to newsletters, you can send transactional emails (account creation, password reset, etc.) of text messages (code verification, order tracking, etc.).
Marketing Automation for SMBs
SendinBlue’s marketing automation tool is an easy-to-use solution for anyone who wants to build new workflows or for newbies who just want to automate basic email sequences. The tool features eight basic workflow templates that can be edited and redesigned for specific tasks. Included with your account are a Welcome Message, Birthday Message, Abandoned Carts, Page Visit, Website Visit, Product Purchase, and activity-based templates.
Custom Workflows start with four entry points. You can start workflows with the following file types: a basic contact file, a contact who has completed an email or website activity, a contact who has submitted form data, or a contact who was logged visiting your website. Once you’ve determined which contacts to add to the workflow, you’ll base your sequence off of a series of “if/then” conditions to determine what to send for your next communication. If someone opens an email, then they get a different message than someone who didn’t. There is no limit to the number of interactions you can create within a workflow but your account is restricted based on the number of emails you can send.
SendinBlue offers a simple way to create contact filters by demographic, this can let uses automatically add someone to a workflow. For example, if a contact turns a certain age or spends a certain amount of time on your website, then he or she is added to a workflow that will attempt to capitalize off of this interaction. This is one of the niftier automation rules we’ve seen on any of the tools we’ve reviewed.
Thanks to SendinBlue’s plug-ins with e-commerce platforms Magento and WooCommerce, you’ll be able to perform basic website and product purchase monitoring that will subsequently let you add users to workflows based on their own activity. Abandoned carts, product browsing, product purchases: SendinBlue is a magnificent tool for marketers who hope to capitalize off of these basic e-commerce behaviors.
The bigger story with SendinBlue is the potential brought about by its automation workflows. There are close to 350,000 options to automate marketing and sales processes. These actions include sending emails and SMS messages, organizing contacts into different lists, and updating information in your contact database.
Because of the workflow tool’s ease of use, it’s excellent for new marketers who just want to start blasting off campaigns. SendinBlue is a suitable platform for basic and niche use cases but it’s certainly not an automation behemoth designed for large enterprises. In those instances, your best bets will be with HubSpot Marketing Hub and Salesforce Pardot, our Editors’ Choice tools for marketing automation.
Since our original review, the SendinBlue team has added a number of plug-ins to the system. You can now connect SendinBlue to a number of different analytics, e-commerce, CRM tools, and more. There are various available plug-ins. These include integrations with the likes of Google Analytics (which can be leveraged to monitor website traffic that comes through from your email content) and Zoho CRM (which can add new contacts from the system to SendinBlue’s contacts). The platform also comes with an open application programming interface (API), which lets a competent developer on your team build new integrations to suit your organization’s unique needs. SendInBlue has a new Facebook Ads campaign capability that should satisfy marketers aiming for that particular segment of users.
When we first reviewed SendinBlue, we were disappointed by the lack of third-party integrations. We’re very happy to see these introduced, and the fact that the API is open makes integration even better. The addition of an App Center and Integration Page open the door to wider integration to various business tools. The user interface (UI) is much improved and seems to perform faster. There weren’t many problems with the look and feel of the platform before, but the new UI changes up the color scheme a bit and makes use of larger fonts. These may sound like small additions but it makes a substantial difference when you think of all the hours spent within the platform.
Since SendinBlue might confuse new users, it’s nice to know it offers decent support resources. A Help button on most pages offers context-relevant help. You can also view tutorials and search FAQs, which are organized by category, though it takes several clicks to actually get to the content. You can also request technical support by creating a ticket, contacting SendinBlue by web form, or by calling a toll-free number.
SendinBlue is evolving from a useful tool for marketers who want to reach their customers by text in addition to email, to a versatile small business solutions hub. The push towards automation and the addition of some basic but workable CRM features make it a more compelling solution. Especially for smaller businesses and startups with modest needs. SendinBlue is well on its way as an all-around marketing tool.
|Limited Free Trial||Yes|
|Social Media Integration||Yes|
|24/7 Phone Support||No|
|Social Media Marketing||No|