Mailgun vs. SendGrid: which is the best email service provider?

Mailgun vs SendGrid comparison

Every organization has unique requirements for email. While some businesses need a solution to send simple marketing newsletters and drip workflows, others need an advanced email infrastucture for high-volume and transactional sending.

In this app comparison, we're focusing on the technical end of that spectrum and two of the strongest email platforms for developers: SendGrid and Mailgun.

Both tools deliver a great solution for high-volume sending, transactional workflows, and market-leading deliverability. But how do Mailgun and SendGrid compare, and how can you decide which email service is best for your business?

Read on for our head-to-head comparison of the two apps, including a comparison of features, pricing and ideal use cases.

 


Introducing SendGrid and Mailgun comparison

About Mailgun

Mailgun markets itself as "The Email Service for Developers", offering powerful APIs that enable you to send, receive and track email effortlessly. Mailgun boasts a 99.99% uptime SLA and provides their email services to 225,000+ businesses, offering a powerful email API, Mailjet for email marketing, email validation, burst sending, inbox placement to predict deliverability issues, and more.

 

About SendGrid

In addition to being one of the best transactional email tools on the market, SendGrid also offers email marketing features including easy-use design templates and sign-up forms. SendGrid is a leader in trusted email delivery for over 80,000 paying customers who use their service to send over 70 billion emails every month. SendGrid was acquired by communications platform Twilio in 2018.

 

Both Mailgun and SendGrid have an all-star client list on their homepage, such as Microsoft and Lyft for Mailgun, and Uber and Airbnb for SendGrid.

As well as their email services, they also include additional features such as customizable analytics, in-depth segmentation, and advanced deliverability. With their powerful feature sets, it's no surprise they're trusted by the crème de la crème.

But what's the difference between Mailgun and SendGrid, and which choice is best for you? Let's dig in.


When to choose Mailgun

1. You want ease of use

Mailgun offers brilliant API documentation, including libraries for popular languages like Python, Ruby, Java, C# and PHP, so developers can easily integrate email into their app.

Mailgun has a tribe of supporters on G2, many of whom applaud the software's top-class ease of use and implementation. As of August 2020, Mailgun is rated 9.0 for ease of use, 9.1 for ease of admin, and 8.9 for ease of setup.

For comparison, SendGrid averages 8.3 in these metrics. To make their email tool even more user-friendly, Mailgun also launched a new UI as of April 2019.

New Mailgun design

 

2. You want to cut down on spam and throwaway emails

Mailgun’s email validation service is also popular among its users. It runs in real time and bulk tests on your emails to check that they actually exist. This cuts down on bounces and boosts your overall deliverability.

MailGun email validation

 

Another perk: Mailgun has built a real-time suggestion service into their email validation service. When the tool picks up on a common typo (e.g. "@yaho.com" instead of "@yahoo.com"), it'll return it along with invalid status, so you can offer the suggestion to your user.

 

3. You're not sending millions of emails just yet

Mailgun is a great choice for small websites and businesses that need a transactional email solution but won't be sending millions of emails from the get-go.

With Mailgun's Pay As You Grow plan, you can send 5,000 free emails per month for three months, then switch to a pay-what-you-send model. This costs from $0.80 per 1000 emails.

Mailgun email validation service


When to choose SendGrid

1. You want more complexity

SendGrid isn't the most simple email service on the market, but for many developers, that's a good thing. Their software is extremely customizable.

As a SendGrid customer, you can benefit from their RESTful APIs that are built on HTTP and return JSON for clear implementation. And with their comprehensive open-source libraries, you can code in your preferred language and consult use cases in Node.JS, Ruby, Python, Go, PHP, Java and C#.

SendGrid RESTful APIs code

 

SendGrid’s Pro 100k plan (starting at $89.95/month) includes a dedicated IP address, as well as dedicated IP warm up to gradually increase your email traffic automatically and pooling to send emails to control groups across multiple dedicated IP addresses.

Mailgun also includes one dedicated IP address in its Growth plan that starts from $80/month. However, dedicated IP pools are only available with the Scale plan from $90/month

 

2. You want to send marketing emails with the same tool

If you want great API/SMTP and email marketing features, SendGrid is a great choice. Although Mailgun lists email marketing functionality, it's less developed than SendGrid's for now.

SendGrid has all the usual features for transactional emails, but offers the added benefit of email marketing services, which you can add to your subscription. This means that you can manage your transactional email and email marketing campaigns from the same dashboard.

With SendGrid Marketing Campaigns, it's free to store up to 2,000 contacts and send up to 6,000 emails/month. Alternatively, the Basic plan starts at $15/month to send up to 5,000 contacts and 15,000 emails/month.

SendGrid email marketing templates

 

If you purely need an email service for marketing, however, it's worth comparing SendGrid with alternatives such as Mailchimp which might be more accessible for your team.

 

3. You're working at scale

Although neither tool will let you down when you need to unexpectedly send a million emails on a Monday morning, SendGrid is slightly more popular with larger enterprises than Mailgun. This reflects its excellent flexibility and value for money when sending high volumes.


Feature comparison of SendGrid vs. Mailgun

 

Deliverability

When you're sending transactional emails, especially at scale, it's crucial to have an email tool with high deliverability. You can't let your email end up in spam, or be delivered three hours later.

Does Mailgun or SendGrid have better deliverability? Both services seem to offer similar results, but here's what we know about each of them.

 

SendGrid deliverability

SendGrid has led the way for transactional email since the company started in 2009 – and it's only gotten stronger since. SendGrid prides itself on its deliverability, scalability and in-depth email expertise.

SendGrid shares that customers who use their Expert Services have a 97% average delivery rate, compared to an industry average of 85%.

SendGrid offers advanced authentication with SPF and DKIM to prevent phishing and spoofing, plus artificial intelligence functionality. This includes ACE, their Adaptive Communications Engine, which is becoming an encoded AI across their platform to increase deliverability and adapt to changing ISP rules.

SendGrid's massive scale (they send over 70 billion emails per month) generates the big data necessary for machine learning and drives results for every customer.

SendGrid sender authentication

 

Mailgun deliverability

Mailgun also offers a managed deliverability service to provide API support, IP and domain reputation management, ongoing consulting and proactive monitoring of your email program.

Mailgun shares that it has an average delivery rate of 97.4%, including the .4% to nudge ahead of SendGrid here.

They also mention their emails have an average bounce rate of 0.42%, which is well under the industry average of 2%.

 

Marketing emails

SendGrid for marketing emails

SendGrid has a dedicated product built for marketing campaigns, which offers everything a marketer needs:

  • Email automation
  • Signup forms
  • Email testing
  • Email design
  • Email templates
  • Email statistics

One of SendGrid's top benefits is balancing user-friendliness and complexity for marketing teams, which sets it apart from Mailgun here. SendGrid has a very popular template creation tool for building personalized emails from scratch, or incorporating and leveraging existing or preset templates in your campaigns.

SendGrid email marketing template builder

 

Mailgun for marketing emails

As they make clear on their website, Mailgun is an email service for developers – not marketers. That said, Mailgun now offers Mailjet: their dedicated email marketing feature. You can create email templates and automate, send and monitor your email marketing campaigns. As with other Mailgun emails, you can benefit from the product's impressive deliverability.

However, they don't yet seem to have invested in it to the same extent as SendGrid, which has made it really easy for marketers to create and send emails.

Mailjet email marketing product

 

Tracking

SendGrid tracking

SendGrid does a great job at emphasizing the metrics that matter and helping you to get to know your contacts with audience insights. You can track data in real time on customizable dashboards and run more customized analysis using data exports.

SendGrid analytics

 

Mailgun tracking

Mailgun understands how important reporting is, and delivers in-depth, real-time data insights with easy segmentation and drill-down capabilities. Not only does this make it simple to track what's working, but you can also use your data to send the most personalized and relevant emails going forward.

On the reporting dashboard, you can compare metrics for accepted, dropped, incoming, delivered and suppressed emails.

Mailgun reporting dashboard

 

Integrations

SendGrid has a wide range of partners in their marketplace, including Simon for better data and Ongage for an advanced front-end to manage your email ops.

Mailgun has a more limited number of integrations, although it has strong partner connections with platforms such as Customer.io for automated customer messaging and Omnisend for automated ecommerce workflows.

 

Support

When comparing Mailgun and SendGrid on customer service, SendGrid offers more support at a lower price point. This is worth keeping in mind if you want access to live chat support without paying for a high-volume plan.

That said, some customer review platforms regard Mailgun as having a better quality of support. On G2, SendGrid is rated 7.7/10 compared to Mailgun's 8.7/10.

 

SendGrid support

With SendGrid free plans, you can only access ticket support. With the Basic plan (from $15/month) you get ticket and chat support. With an Advanced plan from $60 month, you can also get phone support.

 

Mailgun support

On a Pay As You Grow plan, you can access limited 24/7 ticket support. With the Growth plan from $80/month, you can also access instant chat support. Live phone support is only available on the Scale plan from $90/month.

Support offeredSendGridMailgun
Ticket supportAll plansLimited with Pay As You Grow, 24/7 with Foundation plan ($35/month)
Instant chat supportWith Basic plan ($15/month)With Growth plan ($80/month)
Live phone supportWith Advanced plan ($60/month)With Scale plan ($90/month)

Comparing SendGrid vs. Mailgun pricing

How much you pay for Mailgun or SendGrid depends on how many emails you need to send and what you need to do with the tool.

Both Mailgun and SendGrid offer certain features for free. Mailgun offers 5,000 free emails per month for three months, then you only pay for what you send. SendGrid gives you 40,000 free emails for your first 30 days then 100/day forever.

What you get for free with Mailgun and SendGrid:

MailgunSendGrid
5,000 free emails per month for 3 months, then you only pay for what you send (from $0.80/1000 emails)40,000 emails for 30 days, then 100/day forever
Suppression managementDynamic template editor
5 days of log retentionEmail analytics
Limited 24/7 ticket supportTicket support

 

Mailgun pricing

Mailgun offers four pricing plans for their product:

  • Flex (or Pay As You Grow)
  • Foundation: from $35/month for 50,000 emails
  • Growth: from $80/month for 100,000 emails
  • Scale: from $90/month for 100,000 emails

 

Mailgun pricing 2020

 

SendGrid pricing

With SendGrid, how much you pay depends on whether you need an Email API plan or Marketing Campaigns plan.

With the Marketing Campaigns product, you can design and send email marketing campaigns and automations.

 

SendGrid marketing campaign plans pricing 2020

 

And with Email API, you can integrate email into your app or website.

 

SendGrid email api plans pricing 2020

 

Summary: when to choose SendGrid vs. Mailgun

Both Mailgun and SendGrid eliminate the pain points of managing your own server and radically simplify transactional email for developers. When comparing the two tools, the difference between them is subtle.

Here's our quick summary of when to choose Mailgun or SendGrid:

When to choose MailgunWhen to choose SendGrid
You want ease of useYou want more complexity
You want to cut down on spam and throwaway emailsYou want to send marketing emails with the same tool
You're not sending millions of emails just yetYou're working at scale

 

Looking for other email marketing apps to compare with Mailgun and SendGrid?


Whether you decide that Mailgun or SendGrid is better for your business, you're going to be using one of the best services for high-volume and transactional email on the market.

To make it the best possible addition to your tech stack, make sure to connect it to your other tools using an iPaaS solution like PieSync.

For instance, you can connect data in real time between your CRM and email app, or instantly add new customer information to your support software.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.