When comparing Mandrill vs Amazon SES, the Slant community recommends Mandrill for most people. In the question“What are the best transactional email services?” Mandrill is ranked 3rd while Amazon SES is ranked 6th. The most important reason people chose Mandrill is:
Simply set your SMTP server to `smtp://user:API_KEY@smtp.mandrillapp.com:465` and you're good to go. There are libraries for using the API in a variety of languages, including Node.js.
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Pro Both SMTP and HTTP APIs are easy to setup
Simply set your SMTP server to
smtp://user:API_KEY@smtp.mandrillapp.com:465 and you're good to go. There are libraries for using the API in a variety of languages, including Node.js.
Pro Clean UI
The UI is very clean and good-looking overall. While the Analytics may seem basic and not very detailed, the dashboard interface is very clean which also helps with the set up.
The left side of the page has the navigation to different parts of the dashboard. The main view displays all the most important data and analytics that you may need (emails sent, deliverability, reputation etc...). While the navigation itself is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.
Pro Has sandbox mode for testing
Instead of sending real e-mails out, can use test keys which allows to test without actually sending out real e-mails. These test keys can also safely be shared inside the team since they cannot be used to send real e-mails on your behalf.
Pro Clear API documentation
The API documentation is very clear and makes it pretty easy to set up you application with Mandrill's API quickly and painlessly.
Pro Great mobile apps
Mandrill has companion apps for iOS and Android that allow monitoring the service using a smartphone.
Pro Highly customizable templates
Mandrill has made templates a core part of the product as they simplify the payload when compared to sending the full HTML each time and allow non-developers to design the template.
Mandrill uses the flexible content formatting of MailChimp templates. This paired with the API access to template management, gives the user a great deal of flexibility.
Pro Webhook Reporting
Mandrill provides and Event API also or "webhooks" through which it registers events when they occur. So when an activity occurs, the application server is called along with the activity that occurred. Events include opens, clicks, bounces, deliveries and spam complaints.
Pro User friendly rules engine
Mandrill allows setting up rules in a non-technical way.
Pro Great MailChimp integration
Mandrill is made by the same company that made MailChimp. As such, both products work very well with each other.
Pro Outgoing messages log
You can see the contents of all messages that Mandrill has sent out, for free for the last 24 hours, or for some cents per thousand messages if you need a longer retention period.
Pro Highly cost effective
Amazon SES has one of the most competitive pricings on the market with just $0.10 per 1000 emails.
Pro Barebones service
Amazon SES is created to be a simple service for just sending emails through the API. If you need only to send emails and only that, then Amazon SES should at least be a good contender for your service of choice.
Pro Free tier if using EC2
If you are hosting your web application on Amazon EC2, then the first 62,000 emails each month are free.
Con Has a bad history
When they decided not to support a free tier anymore they've set up a withdrawal period of only 2 months for existing customer before it stopped working (even for people who bought credits to send more than that free tier). Meaning people using it had a month to switch to another solution or start paying $20/month or more.
Con No free plan
There used to be a free plan which offered 12,000 free emails per month. Unfortunately it has now been discounted and there's no other free plan anymore. If you want to use Mandrill, you have to pay $20/month or more.
Con Template rendering doesn't support Handlebars
templates.render call doesn't support Handlebars. This makes complex integrations more difficult. You can, however, use handlebars with
Con Poor error handling
When email could not be received by the recipient due to some failure on their side, SES just drops it. No error recovery, reporting is not that great either.
Con Too lightweight
Since SES has been stripped down to do only one thing and do it well (send emails), there will be a lot of things missing which you will have to add on your own if you wish to have them.
Things like analytics, template hosting, design tools etc... are missing from SES. Although there are third-party tools that allow you to use Amazon SES's API to send emails with all the above features added.