We asked for topic suggestions and you responded loud and clear. Overwhelmingly, everyone wanted to learn more about email APIs built for developers.
While I was doing research to understand which email APIs were the best, I learned a lot about this market space. So here are my thoughts on using email service providers.
10 Reason to use email APIs
- Easy: One REST API call and an email is sailing through the web on its way to a destination
- Cheap: It’s likely that it will cost you less to use an API than rent hardware and spend time to configure the solution
- Freebies: All the trustworthy email API platforms offer FREE plans
- Super reliable: The guys behind email APIs know what they’re doing, and if for some reason one goes down, you can simply swap providers in a breeze.
- Interchangeable: There are tons of products like Nodemailer, Swiftmailer that interface with SMTP servers
- Unsubscription management: All un-subscribers will be automagically managed by the provider. Your contact list will be clean and you won’t annoy people that specified they didn’t want to receive your emails
- Data reports: If you want to know how many people opened your email, or who read it, clicked it, or just binned it away, you can investigate everything from the internal dashboards these API companies provide
- Whitelisted IPs: Unlike the IP of your VPS or server, the IP that sends emails for you is monitored constantly by a deliverability team. This solution ensures a smooth sending experience for everyone
- SMTP is hard: You have little idea how the SMTP protocol operates behind the scenes; plus you don’t have the time or necessity to learn about these protocols because you can do everything with an API
- Delivers to the inbox: The email providers typically take care of deliverability issues to ensure your email ends up in the recipient’s inbox, not the spam folder 😉
After going through a lot developer jungles, exploring documentation and functionality of email API companies I compiled a list of my top picks:
- Mailgun: Markets itself as the API for email developers. Through a really comprehensive documentation you’ll learn how to send, track and process all your transactional emails. Personally I’m in love with the inbound email parsing service. It allows you to build some really slick tools for various use-cases. Finally, the documentation is extremely well written with a lot of code examples in each of your favorite languages ( curl, Ruby, Python, PHP, Java, C#, Go) to kick-start your email journey.
- SendGrid: Among premier email API companies out there, SendGrid places itself right at the top. With a large community of developers nodding their head at this service, a great documentation and plenty of integrations with other vendors, SendGrid hailed all the way from Denver, Colorado is rising to the top of the mountain. If you’re more of a marketing person and rather not deal with APIs, their service also offers an interface that allows you to build and send emails, if you’re more of a marketing person and rather not deal with APIs.
- Mandrill: The little brother of MailChimp is possibly one of the largest senders of transactional emails in the world. Their documentation is neat and they have the advantage of placing themselves as one of the cheapest options out there. If you’ve used MailChimp and are a fan of their service you’re going to like Mandrill, plus you’ll get a discount.
- MailJet: Hailing all the way from Paris the main mission behind MailJet is to deliver your emails from the security of servers hosted in France. Like SendGrid this service also allows you to compose newsletters with a graphical user interface, making it a product versatile for the non-technical crowd. The documentation is well written and explains with examples how to use the RESTful API and describes use cases in detail.
- Amazon SES: If you’re on a budget or you’re looking for the cheapest option out there, Amazon SES is what you need. Unfortunately, the low sending rate comes with a price: with poor documentation it’s not the most intuitive solution to set up. Although with a little bit of time and patience, crawling up the mountain is definitely not impossible.
- PostmarkApp: Perhaps a little less known than the others on this list, PostmarkApp has built a quality transactional email API. The documentation is well written and curated and rendered in a three-column format. Their credit-system allows you to keep control of your expenditure with ease! Only pay for what you use.
- MadMimi: Aimed at traditional marketing enthusiasts, MadMimi provides an API to send emails but is less developer-oriented.
- ElasticEmail: You can leverage Elasticemail’s API to send emails; best of all, the longer you stay with the company the cheaper it gets to send messages. In addition to the typical email functionalities you can also send SMS. Cool little addition to the service!
- SocketLabs: Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure to test this service. Look for an upcoming review.
- PostageApp: Like SocketLabs, I haven’t had an opportunity to test this service.
- JangoSMTP: Ever wanted to send emails through a SOAP API? Look no further!
- LeaderSend: Another API email provider with .NET and PHP libraries and a documentation portal that looks a bit like Microsoft!
If you’ve used other services and/or you have feedback on the ones listed above let us know on Twitter, @mashape!