About a year ago, we launched STS - a transactional email service built on top of Amazon SES. In that time, we've seen the integration grow to a moderate success, now sending on average over 100,000 messages every day. While we're happy with the cool things people have built on top of our integration, we've received a ton of requests from customers for features that we felt we really couldn't accomplish on top of a limited platform like Amazon's. We've also spent years building a world-class platform for email delivery and analytics, so the devs were constantly saying "why don't we use this platform to build an email service that's MailChimp through-and-through?" That thought turned into a prototype labs project called Mandrill which we are excited to announce has graduated to public beta.
At its core, Mandrill is similar in functionality to our STS integration, but using the same optimized delivery engine that MailChimp uses for the delivery of our bulk newsletters - slightly modified for one-to-one email. You still need to be a programmy nerd to use it, so if you're not comfortable with code and APIs, you'll need to find someone who is before you get started using Mandrill.
What Mandrill does:
- Uses MailChimp's awesome email delivery engine
- Has a simple and powerful API
- Allows simple sending directly using SMTP
- Tracks opens and clicks
- Automatically adds Google Analytics tracking data to your URLs
- Has pretty, visual reports of your email results
- Allows you to tag your messages and see your stats filtered by tag
- Integrates with MailChimp's templating system, letting you export your MailChimp templates to Mandrill and use them in your transactional emails
How much does it cost?
If you have a free account with MailChimp, then Mandrill is also free for up to 12,000 emails per month. If you have a paid MailChimp account or if you want to send more than 12,000 Mandrill emails per month, it gets a bit more complicated. Basically, your Mandrill and MailChimp email volume is added together, and then billed based either on your MailChimp list size or your combined email volume, whichever one is greater. Each monthly MailChimp plan is allowed a sending volume equal to six times the largest allowed list size for the plan.
For example, if you are a paid MailChimp customer with a list of 5,000 members, you're allowed 30,000 combined MailChimp and Mandrill emails. If you only send to your list twice per month, you can send 20,000 Mandrill emails absolutely free. If you want to send more Mandrill emails, you'll be bumped into the next 5,001-10,000 plan for $25/month more, which will increase your limit to 10,000 list members or 60,000 emails.
Confused? The Mandrill signup page has a handy pricing calculator to see what your plan will be given your sending volume.
Wait, sending limits?
Historically, high-volume MailChimp accounts have always had this idea of a sending limit for the monthly plans, but the lower-volume accounts were always unlimited. Because Mandrill doesn't have subscribers that could limit your delivery, we need to always have a sending limit to prevent people from sending an unlimited amount of email for free. (We like giving things away, but that's a bit too crazy.) So, if you enable Mandrill on your MailChimp account, we'll also add a sending limit.
What about pay-as-you-go accounts?
For now, Mandrill is only available to users with paid monthly or free accounts. If you're a pay-as-you-go account and you want to use Mandrill, you can either change your account to a monthly plan, or sign up for a new monthly MailChimp account just to use Mandrill.
We think Mandrill is an interesting addition to the MailChimp platform, but it's far from finished. Now that we have an SMTP email platform that's entirely MailChimp, we can move faster and do more to make Mandrill a compelling and necessary part of your email world. So if there's something Mandrill doesn't do that you need, please let us know. Just to whet your appetite, here's something that our Mobile Lab has been working on: