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Sendy Review – A Power Users Perspective

Our thoughts on Sendy:

Sendy is a self-hosted email marketing campaign management application. The application is web based and will require a server, a domain, and some configuration on a Linux server. Before you stop reading out of intimidation, don’t, it’s so much simpler than it sounds. It’s different than MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber, but the functionality is much the same. You will be able to own your email subscribers and send newsletters for 100 times less than what you are currently paying. Sendy is a PHP application that leverages the power and scalability of AWS or Amazon Web Services. Understanding the architecture is very important because knowledge of AWS will make your setup much easier. A search for Sendy reviews would indicate that not a lot of people are using the the email marketing app. That’s not the case, we believe it’s simply because the users who are leveraging Sendy aren’t the type of workers who write reviews. Who wouldn’t like being able to send marketing emails for damn near free? This site has a review section if you are looking to leave a note to help others looking to make a decision. Check out Sendy, a self hosted newsletter web app that lets you send emails 100x cheaper via Amazon SES.

What is special about Sendy and AWS:

Amazon.com, the 7th most visited site on the web maintains a very large infrastructure. Some time ago the company directive was to turn the entire infrastructure in to a service. If you wanted storage, you simple requested and received the requested storage volume. Imagine a company with thousands of components allowing engineers and developers the ability to jump over the red tape, and get resources on demand. Lots of the largest applications we use today leverage these services because once Amazon perfected their system of on demand computing, they were able to sell it. Twitter, Netflix, Dropbox, Pinterest are some of their largest customers. Sendy will use the exact same technology used to send emails for them for you.

What did you use before Sendy?

Experience with Mailchimp

I am the owner of a small niche website and when I started our email newsletter I was collecting emails for nothing. Someone had pointed out that we should collect them. So we did. Because of SEO, our site received a ton of traffic our first month. Between 2500 and 5000 page views per day. We had 5000 newsletter subscribers within three months and so our fees would have been $50 whether we Mailchimp that month or not. For a bootstrapped company making very little money $50 was a lot of money to spend on collecting emails we weren’t even sure what to do with yet. Our mailing list includes a targeted group of customers who sign up to receive product and service recommendations and we partner with affiliate programs to make those offers. Mailchimp has historically not been a big fan of affiliate marketing and so our business model, whether users opt-in or not, is essentially frowned upon. We sent a couple of campaigns and their service and templates are great but charging for the lists vs. paying for the emails you send is a deal breaker for most small companies.

What Sendy does well, it does really well:

Necessity breeds innovation:

Our company was collecting emails but I didn’t want to pay someone to “store” them for me since our Newsletter hadn’t even started yet. My search centered on using a self-hosted email solution. That search led me to all types of open source applications, scripts, but none with great support or a community of like-minded individuals looking to solve the same problem. Also, for a great price. I am not even sure how I came to find out about Sendy, but when I did, I paid one time what I would have paid for one month of Mailchimp and my needs were met within the first 2 days. I am comfortable using PHP, AWS, MySQL, Apache, and other LAMP stack applications. Changing or adding a CNAME record isn’t a problem either. I had Sendy configured in less than an hour and moved my mailchimp exports to a new list in Sendy 10 minutes after. However, you still have some work to do in AWS before you can start using the application fully. I was not personally well versed in using Simple Notification Service or the Simple Email Service provided by Amazon but the two are required when setting up Sendy to be used on your server. You control your email list but you have to be able to send those emails through SES so that complaint and bounce handling are routed back to your email list. It helps to keep that list active and current. In order to start sending bulk emails, you need to verify your sending emails or domains and increase your SES Sending Limits which is a very easy process covered in the FAQ on the Sendy website. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you are having issues, I have been able to help others get their email sending limits changed rather quickly. What it does well is… work. It works extremely well. Sendy Email Marketing Screenshot

What Sendy lacks, is easily fixed

You have your software configured, your list imported, and your next newsletter thought out if not written already. Your plan is to create a new campaign, select a template, and get started……. Hold your horses. There are not templates. Not like Mailchimp and others. You are going to have to create them. Don’t be discouraged, there are plenty of solutions to this problem if you don’t want to write your own HTML and inline CSS.
  1. Zurb Foundation Email Templates are very easy to use
  2. I personally use a Mac so I purchased Mail Designer Pro from the Mac App Store and use it to create all of our templates.
You will also have to ensure that you include the shortcodes for the footer of your email. Unsubscribe, View on the web, etc. are easy to setup and the Sendy Forum is available if it’s not entirely intuitive for you. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Sendy is an excellent solution to cheap or inexpensive email marketing but there is only one way you are going to know. Try it. If all of this seems to be a little too much for you I will offer the ability to use my current installation. Because Sendy allows me to create “Brands” on the fly, I can allow you to setup and configure your campaigns and then charge you a negotiable fee to leverage our infrastructure. If you would like help configuring your own Sendy server, I offer a managed services option to assist you, see our pricing for more details.