As an ecommerce store owner – current or future – you probably don't need to be told about the value of email marketing which happens to be one of the most beneficial online marketing methods.
SendinBlue is one of the popular email marketing services that you may choose for marketing your online store, and it came up as a great alternative for MailChimp (see the comparison here) and even for AWeber (comparison here). I have included my review of this service in this article below but before going into that, I want to briefly touch upon another important matter as it relates to online marketing.
While this is not something exactly revolutionary or unknown, many online marketers fail to realize the full significance and value of analytics as it relates to their online business. From this perspective, I suggest that you check out one of my recent posts: 7 Must-Have Ecommerce Analytics Tools.
Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 21, 2015 and has completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Moving on now, here is my detailed review of the SendinBlue email marketing service:
Standout Features from SendinBlue
When running an online store, it's necessary to have an email list and marketing campaign tool. SendInBlue provides email marketing features, but you also get far more than some of the competition. For example, you receive contact management, transactional messaging, and automated campaigns. You can also take advantage of the SMS and IP plans if you're looking to expand your marketing processes.
That said, it’s worth noting that SendinBlue has taken the European GDPR regulations into consideration, and obtained a relevant compliance certificate. Therefore, you can bet that by the time the law is implemented on the 25th of May 2019, SendinBlue guarantees its Europe-based users adherence to all the GDPR guidelines. That means it’ll continue to manage data while respecting the right to access, right to object, right to portability, right to be forgotten, right to rectification, and other features that come with the law
Quite admirable, I must say. However, that’s not the only new thing here. If you’ve been reading our updated SendinBlue reviews, you might have noticed the trend that the software has been keeping up with lately.
I can tell you for sure that today’s SendinBlue is not similar to last year’s. The company is always conducting reviews of its entire feature set, and it continues to introduce new functionalities to improve SendinBlue’s overall efficacy as a marketing tool.
So, what exactly does the current SendinBlue version offer?
Here’s a brief outline of SendinBlue’s standout features:
- Support: Apart from live chat, you can contact the support team via SendinBlue’s online messaging system and phone. It also provides a knowledge base with helpful guidelines and tutorials that cover pretty much everything.
- Landing Page Editor: Premium and Enterprise plans come with a landing page editor, which is handy for creating your own specialized landing pages. You can choose to build yours from the ground up, or simply capitalize on the available templates to make your work much easier.
- Integrations: SendinBlue can be embedded with a wide range of third-party software, including CRM, payment, marketing, and ecommerce tools. Then to top it off, it grants access to a decent set of supplementary services through its Zapier integration.
- DMARC, DKIM, and SPF Authentication
- Bounce Management: SendinBlue provides logs of both soft and hard email bounces. The hard ones are then blacklisted automatically.
- Email Preview: You can preview how your email message will appear on various clients before you send it.
- Multilingual: SendinBlue’s main site comes in six different languages.
- Reports and Analytics: You get all the critical reports you might need to keep tabs on your marketing campaigns- including Google Analytics reports, as well as geo-tracking and click-map insights.
- Deliverability: Going by numerous review tests we conducted, SendinBlue managed a decent score in email deliverability. But, we noticed it experienced issues delivering a couple of emails to Outlook and Hotmail.
- Opt-In and Opt-Out Forms: The subscription forms on SendinBlue are quite dynamic, with advanced features like captcha verification and data auto-population. It’s also possible to give your leads the option of choosing the specific mailing lists they’d prefer opting into.
- List Management: You get to manage your mailing lists based on user demographics, behaviors (actions taken), and lead scores. And if you’re handling many leads at once, you can take advantage of SendinBlue’s multi-parameter filtering tool to segment them accordingly.
- Email Automation: SendinBlue is built to offer powerful and dynamically versatile email automation functionalities. Its workflow editor, for instance, allows you to target leads based on their on-site actions, web behaviors, email engagement, plus contact data. And to ensure precision, you can test them before activation. The corresponding lead scoring system is also admirably accurate.
- Transactional Emails: You can set your system to send transactional emails containing stuff like receipts and purchase confirmations- through SMTP.
- Templates: By default, SendinBlue comes with 65 different options of professionally designed layouts.
- Email Types: Apart from standard emails, SendinBlue supports SMS messages, A/B tests, transactional emails, and auto-responder messages.
- Personalization: There are various flexible ways of personalizing messages you send to your leads. You can, for example, set up advanced custom conditions using “If/Then/Else” parameters, which might require some coding on Excel.
- Email Editor: SendinBlue comes with an intuitive design builder, plus and responsive drag-and-drop email editor, which happens to be loaded with multiple pre-set elements.
Fair enough. But, how reliable is SendinBlue in email marketing? How do you even use its features to create, run, manage, and analyze your campaigns?
Well, let’s review the SendinBlue’s core functionalities and overall usability in detail:
SendinBlue’s User Friendliness
The user interface here, for starters, is seemingly designed using the same approach we’ve discussed in previous SendinBlue reviews.
Just like the name itself suggests, you’ll notice a lot of blue around the entire SendinBlue layout, which happens to alternate with sections of white. Then to help you spot the main controls, SendinBlue has used other colors. But, they all blend seamlessly to create a neat and minimalistic layout.
Now, the SendinBlue dashboard has been built to give you the critical insights right off the bat. Apart from your contact count, you’ll be able to see the number of individuals who’ve opened your emails, the subsequent number of people who’ve clicked on your emails, and oddly enough, the amount of blacklisted contacts.
But, it’s not all about contacts. Adjacent to that figures review section, SendinBlue outlines your trigger, SMS, and email marketing campaigns. Plus, a corresponding set of shortcuts for setting up additional ones.
And in case you’d like to quickly scan through your past campaigns, SendinBlue has provided a convenient list right at the bottom of the dashboard.
Moving forward- one of the things you might want to start off with, of course, is contact list building. Thankfully, SendinBlue is generous enough to facilitate different methods of doing that.
You can jump right in and begin entering the details manually. Or alternatively, save yourself the heavy lifting by simply importing via a .csv or .txt file. And since a generic CSV layout would probably complicate things for you, SendinBlue avails a relevant template.
Sadly, you don’t get the option of importing contacts straight from an existing mailing list. Therefore, if you have one already, you’ll be forced to first convert it into .csv or .txt before you eventually transfer the details to SendinBlue.
That notwithstanding, you have to admit that the whole process is pleasantly simple and straightforward. But, unfortunately, those feelings may be short-lived because the situation changes slightly when you get to the SendinBlue automation function.
Now, let’s be honest about one thing. Of course, we’d all appreciate working with a simple automation system. But, here’s the problem- after conducting reviews of many marketing tools, I’ve realized that the simplest options come with very limited customization capabilities. In other words- if you want an extensively customizable system, you have to deal with the complexities of advanced automation engines.
Well, SendinBlue’s automation framework is not only powerful, but also dynamically versatile. So, you can bet that you won’t have such an easy time at first. Creating the ideal sequential trigger rules for your marketing campaigns, and then drafting the corresponding series of messages takes time.
Don’t get me wrong though. SendinBlue’s automation is only challenging when you’re starting out. You should be able to master all the ropes after several rounds of tweaks.
And to help you track all that, SendinBlue comes with a notification system that alerts you as soon as information has been deleted, saved, or added. It’s a particularly useful feature when you need to keep tabs on your team’s activities.
But then again, it might turn out to be a bit annoying. In that case, you can proceed to SendinBlue’s settings and disable the function.
Creating Email Marketing Campaigns on SendinBlue
The whole process of setting up email marketing campaigns is pretty dynamic, with several holistic layers and options. The first step entails defining the sender name, sender email, email subject, and of course, the campaign name.
If you want to specify additional parameters, you can proceed to the advanced options sections and tweak elements like custom fields, tags, and unsubscribe links.
Now, when you get to the subsequent email design stage, you’ll notice that SendinBlue offers three options. There’s a straightforward text editor for HTML coders, a typical drag-and drop editor, plus my favorite, an intuitive design builder.
Ok, I can guess the latter two sound like one and the same thing. But, the fact is, they are two distinctive tools provided by SendinBlue.
I like the design builder for its overall responsiveness and straightforward operability. It’s particularly optimized for mobile app users, and it provides multiple email template options.
Although emails are mostly associated with text, SendinBlue seemingly pays keen attention to its images. It comes with an exceptional image editor, whose elements admittedly outshine what we’ve covered in other email marketing tool reviews.
SendinBlue’s Contact Management
Unlike pro features like the landing page editor, unlimited contact management comes in all SendinBlue’s plans, including its Free package.
Well, this review has already covered the process of creating a contact list. But, make no mistake. The contact management function does much more than that.
You can, for instance, categorize, segment and search through various contacts. Then guess what? SendinBlue, on the other hand, will auto-update the resultant lists you create according to your specified parameters.
Ultimately, the lists you create are systematically fed into the automation engine to help SendinBlue go target the right people.
Although marketing automation is also included in all plans, Free, Lite, and Essential plan users cannot set up workflows with more than 2,000 contacts. Come to think of it, however, that could be a huge number for a standard small business.
But, if you happen to exceed that, consider upgrading to the Premium plan. Its workflows accommodate an unlimited number of contacts.
SendinBlue Review: Other Noteworthy Features
SendinBlue's ability to send transactional emails (order and dispatch confirmations etc.) is another feature that is not supported by many email marketing apps. One quite rare feature is the ability to send transactional SMS messages directly via your store. (You will have to pay extra for this feature but it can still be a very useful feature especially when directly integrated with your store operations.)
SendinBlue Review: Pricing
SendinBlue offers email plans, SMS plans, and IP plans. The SendinBlue IP plans are for digitally signing your emails and taking full control of the IP reputation. You might use that at some point, but for now, our main review focus is on the email plans.
To start, you're able to sign up for the SendinBlue marketing service for free. This provides unlimited contacts but there is a sending limit. After that, the plans go all the way up to the Enterprise plan, which has custom pricing you'll have to figure out with SendinBlue. The most expensive plan with an actual price tag on it is for $66 per month.
All of the SendinBlue pricing plans are flexible with no commitments. You also don't have to type in your credit card to get started.
As for the plan specifics, here's what you have to work with:
- Free – $0 per month for 300 emails per day. There's no limit on the number of contacts you can have, and you receive items like marketing automation, an email template library, and a mobile-friendly editor.
- Lite – $25 per month for 40,000 emails per month. There's no daily sending limit and you get everything provided in the previous SendinBlue plan.
- Essential – $39 per month for everything in the previous plans, the removal of the SendInBlue logo, and advanced stats.
- Premium – This SendinBlue plan starts at $66 per month, but it could go up in price depending on how many emails you want to send out per month. For the $66 you get a nice limit of 120,000 emails per month. There's also no limit on marketing automation and you receive all of the features from previous plans.
- Enterprise – This one has a tailored volume and a custom price. It comes with a dedicated SendinBlue account manager.
Our previous reviews featured the SendinBlue pay-as-you-go plan, but that's no longer available.
User Reviews: SendinBlue Pros
- It features powerful and flexible email automation functionalities.
- SendinBlue’s Premium plan comes with an extra landing page builder for the creation and review of landing pages.
- There are numerous attractive templates you can capitalize on to make your email designing and review process much easier.
- SendinBlue’s customer support teams review issues raised and respond swiftly through email, live chat, and phone.
- Compared to its competitors’ cost reviews, SendinBlue plans are reasonably priced.
- SendinBlue features a free plan, complete with contact management and email automation functionalities.
User Reviews: SendinBlue Cons
- SendinBlue supports a limited number of integrations.
- Our review tests revealed a couple of email deliverability problems that SendinBlue continues to experience.
- MailChimp (Read the comprehensive review here)
- ActiveCampaign (Read the comprehensive review here)
- ConvertKit (Read the comprehensive review here)
- AWeber (Read the comprehensive review here)
- Constant Contact (Read the comprehensive review here)
SendinBlue Review: Conclusion
As an email marketing service, SendinBlue has improved quite a bit over the years. It's a solid alternative to the other popular email services like MailChimp and AWeber, since it now has ready-made templates and a drag and drop builder. It's nice to have the plugins for some of the popular ecommerce platforms, along with the ability to send transactional emails and SMS messages.
Overall, SendinBlue’s worthwhile for most ecommerce businesses. The templates are beautiful and you can't go wrong with the builder. I also like that it provides the SMS tools for when you want to expand your marketing arsenal. It's things like this that aren't offered by the competition. You can also read my MailChimp review to see if that better fits your needs.
You can start your SendinBlue free trial by clicking here.