Here’s Why SparkPost Can Offer 100k Free Emails Per Month

Alec Peterson
Feb. 26, 2016 by Alec Peterson

Hi. I’m Alec Peterson, the CTO at SparkPost. I’ve been building large-scale email infrastructure for a long time—in fact, I’ve been a member of the leadership team here for 10 years. I love this business, and I know how important getting it right is to our customers, including the developers who do such amazing work with our service.

The last few days have been interesting ones in the transactional ESP market. Mandrill (operated by MailChimp) announced that they were making major changes to their offering, including ending their free tier. Shortly afterwards, SparkPost announced a previously-planned change to our pricing structure, notably increasing our free tier to 100k free emails per month.

While we’ve been absolutely thrilled with the response, we did hear from a couple folks who questioned whether it’s really possible for SparkPost to sustainably offer such a significant free tier. The answer, unequivocally, is yes. I’d like to provide a few details on why we can do it, and why SparkPost is uniquely suited to offer this level of free service.

There are a few things that are important to understand about how we do things at SparkPost. Our history is not only in email infrastructure, but also in delivering the highest performance (meaning most efficient) email infrastructure on the planet. That’s not hyperbole. Before we were SparkPost, we were (and, in fact, still are) Message Systems, the leader in on-premises email infrastructure.

Our customers are the most demanding high-volume senders on the planet. We have several on-premises customers who individually send more email than the entire transactional ESP market combined, and they do so using the Momentum platform on just a couple dozen of servers. To service those customers, we’ve had to push the envelope in terms of performance for the entire existence of our company. In other words, building and optimizing email infrastructure that outperforms anything else on the planet is something that we always have done as an organization. And we’re really good at it.

The fact that our cloud infrastructure is built around the de-facto standard for high-performance email is an undeniably powerful position to be in, making all sorts of things possible. Like, for example, offering 100k emails per month for free.

Our deep experience, however, is only part of the story. We’ve also built a remarkable cloud architecture for our service. When we architected SparkPost, we made a strategic decision to build it upon cloud-based, fully virtualized infrastructure, notably Amazon Web Services (AWS). By leveraging AWS, we’re able to forego worrying about managing our own physical plant with buildings, cages, man-traps, security guards, power, generators, UPSs, racks, servers, spare parts, networks, switches and various transit providers. You get the picture. But just as importantly, we have virtually instantaneous access to as much burst capacity as we could ever need—whenever we need it. And what’s more, when we aren’t sending bursting traffic, that elastic capacity goes away and we stop paying for it. That’s the best of both worlds: virtually unlimited capacity, combined with a highly efficient cost model.

Of course, even the most efficient business can’t run without revenue. And while the free plan we just introduced is a great fit for some senders, we also know that for businesses who need a dedicated IP address, or who need to burst beyond 100k/month, one of our paid service tiers is a better solution. In fact, when we crunch the numbers, our conversion percentages and analysis of customer volume overall tell us that we’re making a really sound business decision. Far from being a threat to our business, the 100k/month free plan is, in fact, a business driver that combines a great long-term option for some senders with a fantastic upgrade path for customers looking to grow their email presence even further.

By the way, I want to also point out that we are not in the business of selling data, and do not ever plan to be. We take privacy really seriously. Respecting it is one of our core principles. We understand that a natural reaction to a generous freemium offer is to assume the provider is selling data to outside parties. However, that’s not the case here, and you have our commitment we will not do this. Not now, not ever.

Our business at SparkPost is email infrastructure. We think MailChimp is a great company, and we have a ton of respect for them and the work they do. We also understand and believe what their CEO said in their announcement letter about a “fit” issue with the Mandrill product. Transactional email isn’t the business they’re in. But it’s the fundamental core of our business, and we’re here for the long haul.

Check us out! Whether you take us up on the 100k free emails per month plan, or a paid plan, we’d really like to have you. Our love for developers runs deep. I think you’ll be impressed. 

— Alec

13 Comments

  • As one of the users that raise this question, thank you very much for taking your time to write this.

    Really appreciated.

    Looks like you listen, which is good.

    🙂
    Now, time to test how good is your sparkpost!

    Reply
  • Thanks Angel, let us know if you have any further questions. Or if you have a support question you can email support@sparkpost.com or reach us via Slack channel or Twitter (of course).

    Reply
  • I read somewhere that you have no warm-up period? We can send 10k emails on the first day?

    If this is true, this would really worry me. The spammers are going to go nuts with this offer and ruin the shared IPs. Which would then force us into plans with dedicated IPs.

    Please confirm. Thanks.

    Reply
  • My team and I help protect SparkPost against spammers. While it’s true that free accounts are able to send 10k messages on the first day at this time, we have a lot of additional spam protections in place to keep this from ruining our IPs. SparkPost is heavily invested in making sure that our shared IPs provide good deliverability and in staying spam-free. Good deliverability and antispam compliance are considered top priorities for our development team, and we continue to introduce new antispam features on a regular basis. I would invite you to give us a try, and see how it works for you.

    Reply
  • Hello! They have consultation in Spanish ? we are an e-commerce website .

    Reply
  • Hi Alexander, what’s your email volume?

    Reply
  • Hello Alec,

    Is that possible to use SparkPost for wordpress to send and receive email ? for example to use it for the contact us page, newsletter, ….

    Thank you for your help
    David

    Reply
  • Hi David,

    Sending email from WordPress? Yes of course, that’s what our plugin is built for! It supports both SMTP and HTTP API.

    Not sure what receive email means in WordPress context. Probably we need to know little more about their use cases. Feel free to ping us in our community slack channel with any specific questions!

    https://wordpress.org/plugins/sparkpost/
    https://github.com/SparkPost/wordpress-sparkpost

    Reply
  • Hey there,

    Thanks for the awesome service.

    We have noticed that recently you have started banning a lot of accounts. A lot of our clients are using your free service but what good is it if the account is blocked for no reasons and the customer service is not helpful ?

    Reply
  • I don’t like monthly option. Do you have pay as you go option?
    Do you accept paypal?

    Reply
  • Hi Arya, thanks for reaching out. Customers on our free plan are only charged for overages above 100k messages per month. While we don’t have a pay as you go plan, customers are free to move up and down plan levels at will directly within the app. Currently, we do not accept PayPal. Please feel free to ask us any further questions you may have! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Hi,

    I know your core business is mainly delivery of Transactional emails, but can I also send promotional emails through your platform? or is that forbidden?

    I am new to this and I want to offer my clients (in the healthcare and education sectors) the ability to send both transactional and promotional emails for their bsuinesses through a SaaS based service that my company resells to them.

    I am looking at keeping those deliverable costs down as well as provide this service for all my potential clients as I am a startup trying to put measures in place.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • Hi! You can absolutely send promotional emails through our platform (and half of our customers do!) Just make sure you’re following best practices and sending relevant content to engaged and opted-in users. Happy Sending!

    Reply

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