It’s no secret that email marketing is one of the most valuable marketing channels for your shop. Email conversion rates consistently outperform social media and search traffic. The reported ROI on email marketing is 43 cents for every dollar spent, and there are three times as many email users as there are Facebook and Twitter users combined.
You need a reliable, easy-to-use tool to manage your marketing emails and keep in touch with your customers. Today we’re taking a look at one of these tools: SendinBlue.
SendinBlue makes a fantastic MailChimp or AWeber alternative for your shop’s marketing emails. SendinBlue even has an AWeber comparison chart available if you’d like to see how it stacks up against other major services. However, there’s one unique thing about SendinBlue that makes it a great solution: you can manage both your marketing emails and transactional email (such as automated order confirmations) all in the same service.
You can set started with SendinBlue with a free account if you’d like to test it out and see how you like using it for marketing campaigns as well as tracking your transactional mail. The free account allows you to:
- send up to 300 emails per day
- send up to 9,000 emails per month
- view general analytics for emails, SMS messages, and campaigns (excludes access to email Heat Maps and detailed info on clickers / readers)
- use the newsletter template builder to create responsive designs for 60 days
If you outgrow the free plan, you can upgrade to a paid plan and select from a couple of options. If you regularly send emails, you may want a subscription plan (such as the $34 per month Bronze plan), which gives you unlimited access to all features and 60,000 emails per month.
If you have a large list (over the free plan cap) but don’t frequently send emails, you can also buy “credits” to use as you need to send emails rather that using a monthly subscription. The pricing options are flexible enough to let you choose the best fit for your email list size and mailing frequency.
One of the things I really like about SendinBlue is the ability to send transactional emails. This is one of the main reasons why I think SendinBlue a great MailChimp or AWeber alternative, as these don’t touch transactional emails in your store (you’d have to use Mandrill from MailChimp, which is a separate integration, while there’s nothing from AWeber).
When we wrote about about using transactional email services, we described why they’re integral to improving the reliability of your email delivery. Here’s one of the major reasons we recommend using a transactional email service (from that article):
Customers have come to expect immediate email confirmations for their orders and are likely to call or email if they don’t receive one. Even worse, if a customer needs to resets their password before logging in to make a purchase and doesn’t receive the reset email, they may decide not to follow through with the purchase. Transactional Email services solve this problem and more by offloading the responsibility to deliver emails from WordPress [to another service].
Transactional email services ensure that you’re not affected by your hosting environment, as sending an email via WordPress from a shared server could impact you and mark you as spam if one of your server-mates is a spammer. They also work with email providers to ensure maximum deliverability so your shop’s emails are safe and reliable.
The SendinBlue integration for WordPress includes transactional email services so that any emails sent from your shop are served from their servers, improving the email experience for your customers. As an administrator, you’ll also benefit from detailed analytics on emails sent from your store, including what was delivered, opened, and clicked. This allows you to both keep an eye on emails delivered and test subject lines to influence open rates.
You can manage transactional SMS messages as well, but this would require a customized integration. For example, if you’d like to automatically send SMS messages when an order is shipped, you’d first need a plugin to trigger these messages using SendinBlue’s API. SendinBlue can then send these messages and provide analytics on your transactional SMS messages so you can see what’s been sent, delivered, etc.
SendinBlue will also allow you to manage email and SMS campaigns, combining both your transactional and marketing emails into one service.
There are a couple of levels to managing your lists and subscribers so you can target emails to the correct recipients. First, you have a folder of lists. I used this to keep a folder for one site / shop.
You can then subdivide this folder into several different lists. I created lists for marketing and customer emails, so you could have different lists to group subscribers together (for example, this is handy to send different campaigns to paid customers vs blog readers).
Each new list will require at least one subscriber, which I didn’t particularly like, but this wasn’t a big deal as I just added my own email to each list to get it up and running. You can manually add your first contact and the list is created.
All subscribers are present in your contact list, regardless of which list(s) they’re subscribed to. This lets you easily add a new contact to multiple lists when created. This is typically a pain point to other email providers, as contacts have to be added on a per-list basis, making SendinBlue an easier alternative.
The one thing I disliked about contacts is the inability to delete a contact if desired. You can “blacklist” a contact so they’re removed from all emails (or edit the contacts to remove them from a list), but this doesn’t remove the account from your contacts list.
The goal behind this is to, “…avoid sending an email to an unwanted contact or re-adding a contact who had already asked to unsubscribe from your emails.” It’s also geared towards ensuring that you don’t send emails to invalid addresses, as bounces can be automatically blacklisted. These are definitely great considerations, but I’d prefer to perhaps see only active clients, and have to view a “blacklist” separately so I don’t see blacklisted subscribers mixed in with active ones.
Once you have folders and lists configured and populated with contacts, you can send email and SMS campaigns. Each campaign will be tracked so that you can view detailed metrics on open rates, click rates, and deliverability.
New campaigns will allow you to set up “sent from” information, and SMS campaigns will allow you to draft your text message. Email campaigns will prompt you to choose a template / email type and draft your email.
SendinBlue provides a template editor that will allow you to drag and drop your own sections into the email, or you can get started quickly by dropping in a pre-made template and modifying it. Editing this template was very easy, as each section has settings you can change in terms of alignment and colors, and clicking on any text makes that text editable. I started with a pre-made template and added my first email in about 5 minutes.
Once you’ve drafted your email, you’ll determine which lists it should be sent to (or the entire folder), and can segment your email based on subscriber information (such as name) or behavior as well (such as whether or not they’ve read another campaign).
Once your email or SMS campaign has been sent, you’ll be able to view detailed reports on its performance right within your dashboard.
One of the best things about SendinBlue is that it’s already integrated with a couple of popular eCommerce plugins. While there’s a generic WordPress integration available (which you should use to support transactional emails), there are also free integrations for WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.
These plugins allow you to integrate SendinBlue with the checkout pages in your shop to allow customers to subscribe to the list of your choice. You can define this in the settings while entering your API keys, and also set the label / opt in text:
When a customer opts in at checkout, he or she will be added to the selected list in your SendinBlue account.
SendinBlue is a great MailChimp or AWeber alternative for sending marketing emails, but I love that it goes beyond this and delivers the transactional emails for your shop as well. You can keep all emails within the same service, making it easy to analyze any sent email via the built-in analytics.
You also get the added benefit of sending SMS campaigns, which are great for sharing immediate information like flash sales. As SMS integrations typically require another service alongside of your email service, it’s cool to have all of these marketing tools within the same app.
The pre-built integrations for WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads are huge bonuses, as you can opt paying customers into a particular list to receive cross promotions or other product info. These typically require paid add-ons for other email services.
You can get started with SendinBlue for free for up to 9,000 emails a month, and your email service can then grow as your store does.