Marketing is one of the most, if not THE most, important aspects of a business. If you’ve got a great product or service but have no idea of how to market it to the right audience, what’s the point?
In today’s world a digital front is the best place to market your product/service, and while social media is growing at a rapid rate the method of choice for most of the great marketers out there is still email marketing. Derek Halpern explains this point really well in this article.
Most services out there offering email marketing solutions are rather expensive. SendinBlue, however, is one of those services that goes the extra step to offer marketing campaigns, transactional emails and SMS messages all from one platform and at a very fair price.
SendinBlue’s mission is to “offer the simplest, most reliable marketing solution for everyone”, and to do so at a fair price if I do say so myself.
It all started off in 2011 with the objective of democratizing email marketing to offer a great service that is affordable for anyone. Armand Thiberge and Kapil Sharma put together a team of 15 web developers and in 18 months they developed SendinBlue, focusing more on the technology than the commercial side of things.
The idea behind the creation of SendinBlue was to make it as simple as possible to use, yet as powerful as can be. This service offers a multitude of features, all of which centre around marketing and transactional emails and sms.
Let’s start off with Marketing. Your audience is the first priority. SendinBlue let’s you import your contacts manually or even import a whole file, and even gives you the option to create a Subscription Form to use on your newsletter or website. You have a segmentation tool to categorise contacts as you wish.
Once you’ve created your list of contacts it’s a very simple and intuitive process to start creating your first campaign. You’ve got four options to create your content (I’ll go into some detail on each further on):
- Drag & Drop Builder
- HTML Code
- WYSIWYG Editor
- Responsive Design Builder
You can schedule these campaigns as well as set up autoresponders for those welcome emails or order confirmations you might want. Plus, if you’re worried about security and getting your content delivered correctly, SendinBlue offers to send campaigns on your behalf using its own dedicated IPs while applying your own signature.
Lastly, you’d want to keep track of what’s going on. SendinBlue shows you results in real-time at any time for any subscriber, giving you their history and statistics. All the data you might want is available right there and then; open rates, click rates, soft/hard bounces, heat maps and so on. And you can even group all this into Google Analytics too.
Moving on to Transactions, with SendinBlue you can send purchase confirmations, password resets and so on via messages to your clients. You even get to track each email and message to make sure they’re being delivered, opened and so on.
To help you maintain a healthy contact list they even blacklist any hard bounces to exclude any invalid addresses or those marking you as spam from your lists. They’ve also made it easy to integrate SendinBlue into your site with APIs, webhooks and tags.
Plus, if you want to send the same message to multiple customers, just like for a purchase confirmation, you can set a template and SendinBlue will automatically personalize each message with your customers’ personal information, making your life that little bit easier.
SendinBlue also has a Support Centre with some great tutorials on how to get started, how to manage your lists and your settings, and some more advanced stuff too. Their FAQ also covers most of the issues you might encounter along the way.
What SendinBlue Offers
An easy-to-configure setup
Signing up to and setting up SendinBlue is a rather simple but long process. Once you’ve signed up and received your confirmation email it’s just a question of going through the dashboard and following SendinBlue’s instructions to complete your setup and start using all its functionalities.
As soon as you access your account on SendinBlue’s site you’re taken to the page above from where you’re instructed to complete the initial process by uploading contacts, creating campaigns and completing your profile.
Uploading of contacts is an easy and fast process as I mentioned earlier. You can add them manually or import a .txt or .csv file with whatever list of contacts you might have. You can then categorise them into groups as you need.
Let’s skip to completing the profile. All you have to do here is enter your personal information and your SendinBlue preferences as is asked of you. A straightforward process.
Email & SMS campaigns
Creating your first campaign is the next and final step to getting SendinBlue up and running. It’s a fairly easy process to get started.
Your first job is to set the campaign information such as the name, subject, from name, from email, header, footer and so on. All basic requirements for any campaign you might create.
Next you move into creating your campaign. First of all you must create your email. To do this you’ve got the four methods I mentioned earlier and I’ll be explaining a bit further down.
Once you’ve done this you need to select your recipients. You’re free to choose which lists you want and you can even set filters or add conditions to them.
Finally you can schedule the campaign. Select the date and time and view the preview on the left hand side of your window. Then it’s just a case of saving it and waiting till that scheduled release date.
If you head to the Campaigns section on your profile you’ll see the new campaign listed with all the relevant information as well as preview, actions, share and report buttons for more options.
Ways to build your content
As I mentioned before there are 4 ways to build your content on SendinBlue. Let’s go through them one by one.
As soon as you choose the Drag and Drop Newsletter Builder option you’re taken to the email editor screen where you’ve got options for Structure, Background, Text, Colours and Images.
Structure is where you can create the look of the newsletter with various options ranging from a simple text box to social buttons. Background is just that; a place to set the background colour and container colours. In Text you can set the fonts and font-sizes for headers, footers, content and buttons. Colours lets you modify the various sections’ colour schemes and finally Images is where you add your images to use in the newsletter.
All straightforward processes. However the structure does have some limitations when it comes to doing things like placing different types content on the same line. For example, you cannot place a line of text right next to a button. Instead you must add it above or below.
The WYSIWYG Editor and Paste HTML Code option open new windows in a lightbox where you can add anything that you might come up with, editing it as you like. Both are options for those marketers out there who want to create their newsletter in just the same way as writing a blog post.
Finally you’ve got the Responsive Design Builder which is the ideal solution if you’re used to building a newsletter using individual elements or if you want to target an audience that uses mobile devices.
Campaign management, tracking, reports and statistics
Managing and tracking your campaigns from the Campaigns section is fairly simple. For each campaign you have information about the list of recipients it’s been sent to, the number that have viewed it or opened it or clicked or even un-subscribed from it. All of this is valuable data that can indicate the success or failure of a campaign as well as the validity of your contact lists.
If you hit the Reports button at the end of each campaign listed you’ll be sent to a whole page dedicated to statistics. From here you can track views, unique views, clicks, unique clicks, bounces, click rates and much more. You’re even given information for each domain as well as marketing statistics and a Heat Map (if you’re on a credit plan or Bronze subscription or higher).
Finally, the Statistics section shows you comparisons between any set of dates you want with open rates, click rates and more, all on one page.
Other features worth noting
- The ability to send test campaigns to try out your newsletters before you send them out to your contact lists.
- Subscription and unsubscription Form options are built straight into SendinBlue. What’s neat about these is that any subscribers are added to your favourites’ list and you can later send your newsletters to them automatically through SendinBlue along with the rest of your contacts.
- SendinBlue’s anti-spam policy should also be strictly adhered to. They don’t take this lightly and if you’re found to be using contacts that you have not gotten yourself your account might even be suspended. A tough penalty but one that ensures everything is kept running smoothly.
What it’s lacking
No pre-made templates
As you saw earlier there are various ways to build your content, but you’re not given any pre-made templates to get started with. For those who are unsure of what layout to use, or want some other ideas, or even simply don’t have the time to dedicate to building the newsletter from scratch, a pre-made template can be very handy.
Not something that would make or break SendinBlue, but surely something that some of you would expect from a service that is focused around sharing your marketing content in a structured manner.
Limited supported countries
As I realised when I tried to enter my home country of Malta in my profile, the list of supported countries is not that vast. This is something that I feel needs to be rectified so as to appeal to a larger audience and not deter any clients from those unsupported countries.
SendinBlue’s WordPress Plugin
Now, let’s get to the WordPress side of things. SendinBlue has a WordPress plugin available for download from the plugin repository. This plugin is the perfect addition to the SendinBlue service for any WordPress user.
Once you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin all you’ll have to do is connect to your SendinBlue account. Once the account is validated you’ll just have to enter the API key you’ll be given and you’re set.
The SendinBlue section in your dsahboard will now give you access to the same data and content that you have in your SendinBlue account. You can view your credits, contact lists, campaigns, statistics and more.
If you head to the Settings section you’ll see a few other options too. The Sign up process section is where you’ll tell SendinBlue where you want the new subscribers to be listed and whether you want it to send out confirmation emails to them.
The subscription form section is where you can create the form using HTML. SendinBlue gives you field options to add into the editor and even gives you the shortcode to use in any post, page or widget area in order to display this form on your site.
Finally you’ve got the confirmation message where you’ll sett the particular messages you want to show for successful registrations, errors, existing subscribers or invalid email addresses.
All these features are built right into the plugin, giving you absolute control over your SendinBlue account right from within WordPress. This makes it easier and quicker to maintain and keep control over.
Great Pricing Plans
When you think of email marketing you normally associate it with high prices and mediocre service, but SendinBlue has kept its level of quality quite high with it’s features and support while keeping the costs low thanks to “an internally developed technical infrastructure”.
SendinBlue has two business models; the monthly subscriptions as well as credit packages. However, before we go through them I need to mention their Free Plan. By just creating a free account you automatically get 9,000 emails to send per month absolutely free!
Subscriptions offer you the chance to send tens of thousands of emails to your subscribers for prices as low as $7.37 per month. Taking this example of the Micro Plan, you can send 40,000 emails for this price, meaning one email to 40,000 subscribers or two emails to 20,000, and so on.
Pay As You Go
Pay As You Go works with credit packages. These credits are used to send emails, so when you send one email you’re using one credit. In other words, with the highlighted plan below you can send 50,000 emails for the price of $134. The great thing about this plan is that the credits don’t expire. So this makes the Pay As You Go option ideal for anyone who doesn’t send out emails that frequently.
Conclusions & Recommendations
So from everything you’ve read above it’s quite clear to see that SendinBlue really is a great alternative to the other email marketing solutions out there. It’s got all the features you might need, great support, and very fair prices.
Those prices really are a joy to behold, especially when you consider what the competitors cost and the effectiveness of such an email marketing solution.
If you want to see a direct comparison with SendinBlue’s main competitor, MailChimp, they’ve actually gone ahead and created this comparison list showing prices as well as features. Check it out for yourself.
Have you used SendinBlue or any other email marketing solution before? What are your thoughts about them? Get the conversation going in the comments below.
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