Here at DCODE, we've worked with Mandrill (along with other mailing services) over a number of years and have found their service to be very useful and easy-to-use. However we were taken aback by the extent (and the lack of clarity) around the recent changes to their service.
The headline change was that Mandrill would no longer be a service on it's own; but rather an add-on service to paid MailChimp Accounts. However on digging beyond the original notification, we also discovered changes in pricing; changes in the terms and conditions of the service; and other changes as important (if not more) than the original notification, but left somewhat hazy. And these changes were coming into force within 60 days.
The main point to consider for our clients was how this change affected their use of the service. Many of our clients chose Mandrill because they needed a transactional email service; they have no need for a MailChimp service. So the merging of these services (with the main objective seeming to play a second fiddle to MailChimp) appears to indicate a change in tact for Mandrill - away from that transactional focus.
Given the changes, many clients have looked to alternatives to Mandrill. We have been able to categorise these into two main groups: the basic mailers and the full-suite mailers. Basic mailers, such as Amazon's SES offer basic functionality without the UI and reporting that Mandrill offered. While others such as SendGrid and SparkPost continue to offer both the mailing functionality as well as a UI and reporting functionality to provide insight into your email activity.
For clients with basic usage and needing the reporting, we have recommended services in the latter group. For clients with a more bespoke solution, the ability to tailor AWS's SES solution into the platform offers a unique way to further align emailing services with the system itself. Ultimately, the best alternative will be dependent on the client's requirements.
At the end of the day, Mandrill is and has been a great service. And with so many people relying on it to send transactional emails, it is a testament to its own success. Mandrill/MailChimp may have their own reasons for the changes - but this reason still appears to be a mystery.
For those looking to continue to use Mandrill - we can certainly continue to help you. However, if you're looking to evaluate the alternatives, we can assist you in determining the best approach for your requirements and then help you migrate your services.
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