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5 Best SMTP Providers of 2024 Compared

Do you use email as one of the puzzle pieces in your overall online business strategy? If the answer is yes, and it probably indeed is yes, then you should look into what some of the best SMTP providers can do for you – and that’s both in terms of giving you new tools to make your existing tasks easier, as well as revealing totally new possibilities.

But before we get into that, let’s start at the beginning:

To say it simply, email deliverability isn’t a problem … until you need to send a lot of it out.

Best SMTP Providers

As many website owners find at some point, just using your web server for sending out emails will get you in trouble with spam filters rather fast. A good solution for this is…yes, you’ve guessed it, an SMTP solution.

I’ll tell you all about it today. Let’s take a closer look at how an SMTP provider works and why you might need one. Then, we’ll review the very best of them out there. Let’s get started – here is Amazon SES vs Brevo vs SendGrid vs Mailjet vs Mailgun!

“I have no time! Just give me the numbers!” – says you. Okay, okay. Here’s a quick summary of the prices and limits of the top solutions:

Amazon SESBrevoSendgridMailjetMailgun
Free planYes, up to 3,000 emails per month for the first 12 monthsYes, up to 300 emails/dayYes, up to 100 emails/dayYes, up to 6,000 emails/month and 200 emails/dayYes, up to 5,000 emails/month
10,000 emails/month$1/month$15/month for 20,000 emails$19.95/month or $89.95/month for 1,000 teammates permission$15/month or $25/month for additional features like marketing automation and A/B testing.$35/month or $90/month for additional features like 5,000 email validations
50,000 emails/month$5/month$25 – $39/month$19.95/month or $89.95/month for 1,000 teammates permission$35/month or $50/month for additional features like marketing automation and A/B testing.$35/month or $90/month for additional features like 5,000 email validations
100,000 emails/month$10/month$65/month $34.95/month or $89.95/month for 1,000 teammates permission$95/month$75/month or $90/month for additional features like 5,000 email validations
500,000 emails/month$50/month$300/month $249/month$425/month$400/month
over 1 million emails/month$100/month$550/month$449/monthAvailable upon request$700/month

The problem with sending email, summarized

The first thing we need to do here is distinguish between two main types of email that a website or a web service can send to its audience: bulk email and transactional email.

  • The former is what’s classically referred to as email marketing. It’s where you create a standard email campaign and have it sent to multiple recipients (your list of subscribers) all at once.
  • The latter is something you send to individual recipients – it’s direct one-on-one communication – based on that recipient’s action or inaction. More or less, it’s the recipient that triggers the email to be sent in their direction.

That whole second thing – transactional email – is the topic of today.

Transactional email is often the most important type of email-based communication between a business/website and their audience or customer base. Long story short, if you have a tool, or an app, or a website, or a plugin, or a web service, etc., and you want for that thing to be able to communicate with your users automatically based on specific triggers then this is when transactional email happens.

In that scenario, you don’t click on any “send” button by hand. Instead, the tool’s algorithm decides when to send out emails. Like the name implies, the email is sent out when a transaction happens and the person needs to be notified of that fact. Those emails are only relevant to a particular recipient and often highly personalized. Think things like:

  • account creation emails – “welcome emails”
  • order confirmation emails, purchase receipts, shopping cart abandonment emails and all sorts of other cart-related messaging
  • messages related to user account activity (like password reminders)
  • product notifications, user account notifications, etc.
  • “somebody responded to your comment” -emails, etc.

Transactional email, by definition, touches upon important transaction-related issues, so you really want your recipients to be getting those delivered without fail, and fast!

And that deliverability, or sometimes lack thereof, is often where the problems start. If you’re just getting started with direct email communications then you might be tempted to do one of two things:

Not recommended SMTP alternative no.1:

The first possibility is sending out messages through your web server directly. This can be done via, say, PHP’s mail() function, or similar functions in other technologies. However, you can run into some deliverability issues here. Especially if you’re on a shared web server, the server’s IP might already be on some spam blacklists, which will prevent your emails from getting delivered basically right away. Plus, you’ll find that every web host limits the number of emails you’re allowed to send before getting in trouble.

Not recommended SMTP alternative no.2:

The second alternative is Gmail SMTP. I know this isn’t a particularly forward-thinking setup, but Gmail still lets you send up to 500 emails per day, and if you really want to, you can integrate it with your site (WordPress included) or app through standard SMTP settings. The benefit here is that you get your mail sent from Gmail servers, which should be better for deliverability. Still not perfect, though.

Why an SMTP provider is better

A Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) provider is a service that enables you to send emails through the SMTP protocol. It is the standard used for sending messages between servers.

With an SMTP provider, you can send transactional emails through your website. These are usually triggered by a user’s action on your site.

For example, you might use an SMTP provider to send welcome emails when someone creates an account on your website. If you have an online shop, this service can help you deliver order confirmations, receipts, product notifications, and other automated messages more efficiently. The best SMTP providers typically offer reliable email delivery and scalability. Some might even provide analytics and tracking to help you monitor your email marketing campaigns.

Best SMTP providers in detail

Now, let’s look at the best SMTP providers on the market in a bit more detail. We’ll review their features, including scalability, WordPress integration, and pricing methods.

1. Amazon SES

Amazon SES is one of the best SMTP providers

Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) is a cloud-based email service provider that can integrate into any application. You can use it to send transactional emails and notifications, bulk messages, and more.

To connect your WordPress site to this service, you’ll need to use the Amazon SES API or SMTP interface. You can access the API using the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) or by using an AWS Software Development Kit (SDK). This can be a little difficult to set up if you don’t have any technical knowledge.

Amazon SES supports all industry-standard authentication mechanisms, including DKIM, SPF, and DMARC. You’ll get insights into the performance of your emails, including the number of sends, opens, clicks, bounces, and complaints, plus recommendations on how to improve deliverability.

Plus, you can send emails from shared or dedicated IP addresses (or servers). Alternatively, you can use IP addresses that you already own to send emails with Amazon SES.

Amazon SES pricing

Amazon SES is a pay-as-you-go service. This means you’ll pay for the number of emails you send and receive, which makes it a very scalable option.

The charges are $0.10 per 1,000 emails and $0.12 per gigabyte of data in the messages you send.

If you have an AWS Free Tier account, you’ll get up to 3,000 messages for free each month for the first 12 months after you start using SES.

Overall, Amazon SES is a very affordable solution, allowing you to send 1 million emails for just $100. However, it’s a bit lacking in terms of features. While you do get some performance metrics, these can be quite basic. Therefore, it might not be the best solution if you’re looking for a service that provides in-depth analytics for your email campaigns.

2. Brevo

Sendinblue

Brevo is one of the best SMTP providers when it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It offers a marketing platform that includes transactional emails, customizable email templates, and a drag-and-drop editor. You can also use it for SMS campaigns.

Additionally, Brevo has custom-built plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce. This means you can easily connect the SMTP service to your website.

You’ll also get real-time results and access to email statistics, including click and open rates.

Brevo provides lots of tools for developers. These include API clients for Node.js, PHP, Python, TypeScript, Java, C#, Go, and Ruby. You can also use custom webhooks to trigger automated emails.

Brevo pricing

You can get started with a free plan, which lets you send 300 emails per day. However, you’ll have the Brevo logo on your emails.

If you have a busier site, you might want to opt for the Starter plan ($25 per month) or the Business plan ($65 per month). There’s no daily email limit on these plans, and you can send over 20,000 emails per month.

However, the Starter plan only lets you send marketing emails to a maximum of 2,000 contacts.

Additionally, you’ll need to pay extra if you want to remove the Brevo logo from your marketing emails.

Therefore, it might make more sense to purchase the Business plan, as the Brevo branding does not appear in your emails and you get additional features such as send time optimization and A/B testing.

If you need to send 1 million emails per month, the cost will be around $669 (per month). There are also additional costs to keep in mind.

For example, you’ll need to pay $12/month per additional user, $10/month per additional 10,000 push notifications, and $24/month per five additional landing pages.

As you can see, it can be a pricey option for large campaigns. However, if you have a small business or are just starting out, the costs are much lower, and you get a decent monthly email allowance. Plus, if you have a WordPress site or WooCommerce store, the setup process is very straightforward, so you don’t need to hire an expert to help you integrate the SMTP.

If you’re only interested in the SMTP service (rather than the entire marketing suite), prices start at $15 per month for 20,000 emails and go up to $550 per month for 1 million emails.

3. Sendgrid

SendGrid

If you’re looking for a great provider for large businesses, Sendgrid might be a good choice. This service is used by companies such as Spotify, Uber, and AirBnB. Its cloud-based solution enables you to send transactional and marketing emails to thousands of contacts.

You can integrate Sendgrid into your WordPress site via API. The plans are very scalable, enabling you to set the number of outbound emails per month and increase or decrease it as needed.

Sendgrid gives you actionable insights to help you optimize your email campaign. With higher plans, you’ll also receive a dedicated IP address and email validations.

On all plans, you get domain authentication through SPF and DKIM. You’ll also be able to see data on bounce rate, spam, and blocked reporting.

Sendgrid includes reputation and delivery visibility monitoring to help you keep tabs on your campaigns.

Sendgrid pricing

You can try Sendgrid with a free plan, which lets you send 100 emails per day.

If you need to send at least 1,000 emails per month, the Essentials plan starts at a monthly fee of $19.95 and supports up to 100,000 emails (with the price rising to $34.95). This should be enough for small and medium-sized businesses.

If you want a higher allowance or a dedicated IP address, you’ll need to purchase the Pro plan. This starts at $89.95 per month for 5,000 emails.

If you’re looking to send 1 million emails per month, the cost would be $449/month. This makes it more affordable than Brevo, but you’ll need some technical help to integrate the SMTP with your website.

Sendgrid is mainly ideal for testing your marketing campaigns. If you opt for a marketing plan (which starts at $25 per month for 10,000 contacts and 10,000 emails/month), you’ll get access to features such as A/B testing, audience segmentation, actionable insights, and more.

4. Mailjet

Mailjet

Mailjet is an email service provider that offers a free SMTP server. This integrates with any application, including WordPress, and you can configure it with an API key. You’ll also need to choose a supported port (depending on the email client you use) and set up SPF, DMARC, and DKIM records to authenticate your domain.

Mailjet’s real-time dashboard gives you access to key performance indicators, including opens, clicks, bounces, unsubscribes, and more. You can also use the Templating Language tool to personalize your emails and create dynamic content.

With Mailjet, you can also manage incoming traffic with automated routes that parse your messages. It enables you to define a list of routes for the mailbox to a callback URL. This way, you can easily sort your emails into the correct folder or category.

Additionally, the Mailjet Email Validations feature can help you keep your contact list clean by ensuring that email addresses are real. You’ll also get a dedicated IP so you can have full control over your email server and IP reputation.

Mailjet pricing

Mailjet has a scalable, pay-as-you-go plan. You can use the service for free for up to 6,000 emails per month (with a limit of 200 per day) and 1,500 contacts. However, you’ll have the Mailjet logos on your emails.

Paid plans allow you to send at least 15,000 emails per month, with unlimited contacts and no daily limit. The Essential plan starts at $15 per month and includes features such as segmentation and email address validations.

If you want additional features like marketing automation and A/B testing, the Premium plan starts at $25 per month (for 15,000 emails). You can send up to 500,000 emails per month when you purchase this plan, though the monthly cost will be over $400.

If you need to send more than 500,000 emails, you’ll need to contact the Mailjet team for a custom plan. Therefore, you’re unable to compare its prices to other services for large volumes of emails until you get a quote. However, considering that you pay $425 per month for 500, 000 emails, the cost for 1 million emails will likely be at least $600 per month.

Mailjet is likely best suited for small to medium-sized businesses. It also has a very generous free plan, so it’s ideal for those who have no budget for their email campaigns, like newbie bloggers or professionals.

5. Mailgun

Mailgun homepage

The final candidate on our list is Mailgun. This cloud-based service lets you send both marketing and transactional emails, and you can easily connect it to your site using the Mailgun for WordPress plugin.

Mailgun provides real-time email tracking and advanced analytics, as well as detailed logs to diagnose delivery issues. You’ll also get an email address verification and send time optimization tool.

Mailgun enables you to integrate email into any existing applications through RESTful APIs. It also provides inbound routing, which parses out unnecessary data and enables you to clean up long email threads.

With Mailgun, you’ll also have access to email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. These are designed to protect your reputation and show receivers that your emails are legit. Together with Mailgun’s advanced deliverability features, which include inbox placement testing, these protocols can help you reduce bounce rates and spam complaints.

Mailgun pricing

Mailgun offers a free plan that allows you to send up to 5,000 emails/month. It’s harder to stumble upon it since they don’t advertise it as much.

As for the paid plans, the Foundation plan starts at $35 per month for up to 50,000 emails/month. If you want to send up to 100,000 emails per month, the price jumps to $75.

Meanwhile, the Scale plan starts at $90 per month for up to 100,000 emails/month. As the name suggests, this plan offers scalability, enabling you to send up to 2,500,000 emails per month. It also gives you access to 5,000 email validations, a dedicated IP, and more.

This makes Mailgun an ideal option for businesses like large online stores. You’ll pay around $1250 per month for 2,500,000 emails, which can be quite expensive for some businesses. But if your emails have a decent conversion rate, you should be able to justify the cost.

Conclusion

Using an SMTP service can help ensure that all marketing and transactional emails are delivered without issue. This is essential if you have an online shop and want to send order confirmations, product notifications, and other important messages.

In this post, we looked at some of the best SMTP providers on the market. If you want a beginner-friendly option, Brevo offers custom plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce, email templates, and a generous free plan. For a more advanced and scalable solution, Sendgrid provides customizable plans with actionable insights to optimize your campaigns.

Do you have any questions about the SMTP providers featured in this post? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Yay! 🎉 You made it to the end of the article!
John Hughes

11 Comments
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Muhammad Asim
April 5, 2018 4:56 pm

SENDINBLUE charges 25 USD per month not 7.75 USD as mentioned above. Please check once again:-
https://www.sendinblue.com/pricing/

Sabina Ionescu
April 10, 2018 3:28 pm
Reply to  Muhammad Asim

Thanks for the mention – we’ve updated the scorecard!

Mike
August 3, 2017 5:47 pm

Hey Karol, could you look at SparkPost as a candidate for a future update? It has an officially supported WP plugin and stands up well compared to those currently being reviewed.
P.S. The email industry standard for pricing is CPM, or cost per 1,000 messages. If you use per-1,000 instead of per-10,000 it makes it easy to compare with mail providers across the board.

Karol K.
July 5, 2017 3:38 pm

Seems like a more corporate-level tool if I’m not mistaken. $39 per 10,000 emails is quite a lot.

Karol K.
July 5, 2017 3:36 pm

Looking through your materials, it doesn’t seem like there’s an API for sending out transactional email, plus your price per 10,000 emails is quite high as well – $12.

Yannick CHIZZOLINI
July 5, 2017 4:04 pm
Reply to  Karol K.

Our plugin exist for 3 months now, so we need to do a lot of things 😉 But we’re heading, for september, to load every transactionnal emails from your WP. New account, lost password, new customer, abandon cart, etc..

Yannick CHIZZOLINI
July 20, 2017 12:30 pm
Reply to  Karol K.

True, API is not ready yet, but we’re working on it. Our plugin exists for only 4 months, so we have a lot to do 🙂
We should have more trigger/transationnal by september.

Karol K.
July 5, 2017 3:32 pm

Is there an official pricing page?

David Wilks
June 30, 2017 11:04 am

If you use the Mailster plugin, it gives everything that AMZ SES doesn’t but can still send via AMZ so you get those low rates.

Karol K.
June 30, 2017 1:21 pm
Reply to  David Wilks

It doesn’t seem like Mailster works for transactional email. It’s a classic newsletter plugin that simply has the ability to send via different SMTP services. Or am I wrong?

Barış Ünver
June 29, 2017 7:10 pm

Probably the best SMTP providers comparison I’ve ever seen. Thanks!

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