Written by Ria du Plessis - Digital Marketing Expert
What Is SendGrid?
SendGrid has been a big name in the email marketing sector for some time now, delivering over one billion emails a day from its platform. In 2019, it was acquired by Twilio and is now part of its system for business development as an integrated email marketing service.
SendGrid Pros & Cons
- Dedicated IP - An IP address is the location from which your emails are sent. Usually, you’ll be using a shared IP, but the option to purchase your own unique address for $30/month means you can have complete control of your sending reputation
- Integration capabilities - SendGrid is compatible with lots of CRM platforms, with a separate service also offered for email API. Due to the acquisition by Twilio, the software can now integrate multichannel marketing to expand your reach from just email inboxes
- Education resources - A whole section dedicated to educational tools, documents and webinars is available to anybody. Webinars with expert help and advice for various different tasks and functions; free templates; articles on improving deliverability, the list goes on. By the end, you’ll be a marketing whizz!
- Free plan - Who doesn’t love a free plan? The one offered here by SendGrid is very generous, with the capabilities you’re afforded. It’s rare to see features like A/B testing on free versions, and 2,000 contacts/6,000 emails per month is a fair lot to get started with
- Shared IP delivery - When you’re processing millions of emails a day over shared IPs, the reputation can suffer. Other users have reported low deliverability rates due to being sent through blacklisted spam IPs, causing emails to go undelivered
- Extra cost for features - It was all starting so well with the free plan. But as soon as you decide to ‘upgrade’ to the paid Basic plan, you’ll have to sacrifice basic automation. Even on advanced plans, you get a limit on the email tests you can conduct before having to purchase additional credits
- Customer support - You only need to glance at some other recent reviews to get an idea of how disappointing the support systems can be. Free plans offer no guarantees on replies to queries, while even on the higher plans response times can be lacking and unhelpful
Who Is SendGrid Recommended For?
SendGrid has a great reputation for high-volume email marketing campaigns. The use of dedicated IPs allows you to fully control your own sending reputation and ensure all your campaigns are hitting the right marks.
The free plan is ideal and certainly generous for those who like to test the water before taking the plunge on a subscription.
Who Is SendGrid Not Recommended For?
If you’re an entrepreneur or run a small business and you want high delivery rates on low-price plans, you could face some problems with the shared IPs, so I’d be wary of this.
The lack of essential features in the Basic plan is a bit of a baffling omission, which ultimately forces your hand into paying more for some basic functionalities.
A/B Testing, automations, 3 test credits
$15 - $200
5,000 - 100,000
15,000 - 300,000
10 test credits, 5 signup forms, no automation
$60 - $900
10,000 - 200,000
50,000 - 1,000,000
Dedicated IP support, 50 test credits, automations
SendGrid has two subscription models: Email API and Marketing Campaigns, although there’s still some overlap between the features on each model. Here, though, I’ve concentrated on Marketing Campaigns. With this, you get three pricing groups, each with its own scalability based on how many subscribers you have and your volume of emails.
There are other complementary services available with the Email API subscription model, such as email validation and advanced statistics; while additional support and dedicated IPs are also available separately from the base plans.
Cancellation / Refund Policies
You’ll be eligible for a refund if you haven’t used your account during the billed calendar month. If you have used your account in the new billing period, you can cancel your subscription and you’ll be downgraded to a free account from the first day of the next month.
SendGrid and Twilio offer a range of features for your email marketing needs. While some are included on all price plans, there are some functions only available through additional subscriptions.
· Ease of Use
Once you’re up and running, the SendGrid interface gives you a clear view of the features available to you, with a central dashboard to display information for easy access to email campaigns. You’re invited to take a tour when first using the tool to show you how to get going.
· Template Designer
Both HTML and drag-and-drop functionality are available through the “code” or “design” email tools. With a number of pre-built templates, this makes a diverse feature for many different campaign purposes. There’s an additional service for testing emails before sending, but this could come at an extra cost based on your plan.
· Email Automation Sequences
The ability to trigger multiple emails means you can keep subscribers engaged with timed campaigns from when they sign up for effective drip marketing campaigns. The step-by-step workflow makes this an easy thing to set up. This isn’t available on the “Basic” plan.
· Email Testing
This feature basically acts as your own personal proofing assistant! It allows you to preview your layout over multiple devices, see your success rates against spam filters and check all links work as expected. You’re set a certain amount of credits on each plan per month, which you can increase at extra costs.
· Dedicated IP
Control your own sending reputation with the option to send via a dedicated address. This feature comes at an extra cost of $30 per address and is only implementable on the Advanced plan. A reputation meter on your dashboard updates every 30 days and will fluctuate based on successful and bounced emails.
· Signup Forms
Automatically assign your customer base into different groups with signup forms so they receive custom, relevant content with built-in personalizations. This can be paired with the automation tool so you don’t even have to worry about it! Free plan - one form; Basic plan - five forms; Advanced plan - 15 forms.
· Reporting and Analytics
Being able to analyze your email performance is essential for effective campaigns, and there’s a wide range of stats and analytics to get stuck into with this platform. Don’t be confused by the two different plans, though! While the Email API plan limits your stats to three days, the Marketing Campaign plans allow you to create custom time periods at no extra cost.
FEATURES SCORE: 4/5
SendGrid Automation Features
Automation is an important tool to help you manage your workload. It’s especially useful in email marketing when you’re having to juggle large lists of subscribers with different wants and needs.
With this platform, you can create multiple sign-up forms, and then feed that info into pre-built custom automations triggered at set times with personalizations for each subscriber. Once you’ve set these up, you can sit back and let SendGrid do the rest for you, freeing up time to concentrate on other business needs.
SendGrid Software Integration
Twilio SendGrid is split into two different plans, Email API and Marketing Campaigns. While the Marketing Campaigns platform pretty much stands on its own, the Email API plan is built for integrating your emails with different services.
The API capabilities are solid when it comes to implementing SendGrid with your CRM of choice, but require you to be comfortable with some coding. If you can code, it doesn’t really matter what system you use as SendGrid API is written for most languages. There’s also a library of documentation in case you get stuck.
SendGrid Alternative Brands
Constant Contact - This software for email marketing and transactional emails gives you a fistful of features to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Creative email design is available to you at any level with their easy-to-use tool, so your emails stand out.
Sendinblue - For an email marketing platform with an integrated CRM to control all of your customer interactions from one place, this would be an affordable solution. The option to also create your own opt-in forms and landing pages makes a solid tool for a range of uses.
EmailOctopus - Low-cost pricing but by no means a low-quality tool. EmailOctopus gives you a scalable platform with all the essential features needed to quickly start firing off email campaigns. As well as their standard pricing, they have the option to integrate with Amazon SES on an even cheaper plan.
The free plan here is generous and there are some great advanced options if you’re willing to fully kit up with all the add-ons. However, their recent deliverability problems on shared IPs could be costly. To surpass this, you’ll be having to pay at least $90 per month for an advanced plan with a dedicated IP.