Mandrill Alternatives for PHP Applications

Posted by on April 18, 2016

email symbol on row of colourful envelopesWhat would a website be if it couldn’t send emails, even if just for password resets? Running your own mail server is a huge hassle, so many developers instead use a third party service to send transactional emails like password resets, new user welcome messages, and order summaries. One of the most popular services, in part because of their generous free tier, is Mandrill, owned by MailChimp.

In case you might have missed the announcement, MailChimp is changing Mandrill to be an add-on to paid MailChimp accounts, thus eliminating the generous free tier. We’re big fans of MailChimp and use its mailing list service for our own announcements, (hey, why not join that list if you’re not already on subscribed?) but a full MailChimp account isn’t going to be for everybody. They’ve already shut out the ability for new subscriptions, but if you’re a PHP developer who does things like put off your taxes until the last minute (American customers have three extra days this year, but that’s today), you’re probably sweating the April 27th deadline.

Many people also know Mandrill by reputation and will need options in the future. For you, we’ve put together this list of viable transactional email alternatives with PHP and major PHP application support. Joomla! and MODX support SMTP integration natively, so you’ll just need the SMTP configuration options from your chosen provider. If you want to use a provider’s web API, see the PHP options below.

Cal Evans did an unscientific Twitter survey to see what options people were migrating to:

SparkPost

MailChimp’s announcement notes that SparkPost has agreed to take on existing Mandrill users and honor Mandrill’s pricing for them. Fortunately, SparkPost has PHP users covered: there is an official PHP API library. There is also a Drupal module, but unfortunately it seems to be 7.x only at this writing and is only a sandbox project—you’ll have to install it via git. Drupal 8 users should be able to use the official API library with Composer. WordPress developers are in more luck: there is an official WordPress plugin. SparkPost provides a guide for Magento devs using the SMTP Pro extension. SparkPost also has one of the most generous plans we’ve seend, with 100,000 free emails per month, though you can not exceed that limit without upgrading ahead of time.

SendGrid

A long time option for PHP users has been SendGrid. (Full disclosure: SendGrid has sponsored our php[tek] conference in the past, but is not a current sponsor.) They have an official PHP API, installable via Composer. While there is a 7.x-only Drupal module, SendGrid recommends Drupal users use the SMTP Authentication Support or Swift Mailer modules in its documentation. Both the officially-recommended modules support Drupal 8 at least in the development releases of each module. Magento is also supported through the SMTP Pro extension. WordPress devs can install the official plugin. SendGrid doesn’t list a free tier on their pricing page, their “Essentials” plan start at $9.95 for 40,000 emails per month.

SendinBlue

Many devs I know have spoken highly of SendinBlue. They offer a WordPress plugin, (7.x only) Drupal module, and Magento extension. They also have an official PHP library. Their free tier is limited to 9,000 emails per month with no daily limits, however the messages will include SendinBlue branding.

Amazon SES

Amazon’s transactional email service is affordable but not as easy to install and configure for newbies. They have an official PHP library through the AWS PHP SDK. There is a third-party Drupal module for 7.x users. Similarly there’s an independent WordPress plugin. There is a USD 99 paid extension for Magento.

Mailjet

Mailjet offers a PHP API wrapper, a WordPress plugin, a 7.x-only Drupal plugin, a Joomla! extension, and a Magento plugin. The free tier is capped at 6,000 emails per month and 200 email per day. The first 30 days include a premium trial which allows users to explore segmentation, testing, and compare campaign performance.

Mailgun

Mailgun has a PHP SDK installable via Composer. There is also a WordPress plugin, a 7.x-only Drupal module,  and a Magento extension. The first 10,000 emails each month are free, after which you pay a tiered price based on monthly volume.

Postmark

Postmark offers a PHP API library, installable via Composer and available on Packagist. There is also an official WordPress plugin. There is a community-supported Drupal module (you guessed it, 7.x only) and Magento extension. There are also many other community modules for PHP frameworks. If you sign up to try it, the first 25,000 emails are free. After that, you can buy credits to send emails starting at $1.50 per thousand emails.

Conclusion

Which of these services you use depends on your needs, price sensitivity, and how much specific support you want for your platform. If I’ve missed any services with good PHP support, please let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: RaHuL Rodriguez on Flickr


Sandy has been developing websites in PHP for 14 years. Starting in government, he endured the Dot Com bubble before working with nonprofits for over a decade and managing a team of developers. Finding a love of mentoring developers, he worked at the career management startup mojoLive before co-founding musketeers.me and taking on php[architect]'s training services.

 

Responses and Pingbacks

[…] model for their Mandrill email service, PHP developers have been busy looking for alternatives. In this post to the php[architect] site Sandy Smith explores some of the other options out there, how they compare and what they have to […]

 

Thanks for this article, some great options for alternatives to Mandrill. Have you had a look at Elastic Email (https://elasticemail.com/) who provide a free tier for sending up to 25,000 emails a month. There is also a Drupal module (https://www.drupal.org/project/elastic_email) and WordPress module (https://wordpress.org/plugins/elasticemailv1/) for this as well. There are several other integrations that are provided for it as well – https://elasticemail.com/support/smtp-cms/cms-plugins

 

Switch between all this alternatives and keep your webhook working by abstracting them with MailHookBundle. https://github.com/ScullWM/MailHookBundle

 

PHP developers have been busy looking for alternatives. provide a free tier for sending up to 25,000 emails a month. There is also a Drupal module http://www.downloadteimoso.xyz/

 

[…] Mandrill Alternatives for PHP Applications by Sandy Smith […]

 

Leave a comment

Use the form below to leave a comment: