July 25, 2023

SendLane Review: A Solid Ecommerce Email Marketing Platform

Your choice of ESP is important for your email/SMS channel success. Recently, our team got a chance to dive into SendLane, below is our review and evaluation of SendLane. Our clients are typically eCommerce brands, so the feature review will be from this perspective.
Event Tracking & Attribution

Custom Event Tracking
SendLane's primary event tracking involves what they call the Beacon, which is in essence a piece of Javascript code. This is the starting point for tracking front-end events. Similar to other setups, this does not track anonymous traffic and requires an identified user first in order to pass data to the user's profile inside the ESP.

You can create custom events based on page views, though it looks to be a new piece of Javascript associated with each event. The implementation would require the associated custom event Javascript to be dropped into the exact page(s) you want to track.
One interesting feature is attaching $ amounts to custom events. This can be interesting if you have a good idea of your conversion funnel, and thus can back out $ value of certain page views.
Click Tagging
Another interesting feature is click tagging. SendLane puts a lot of emphasis on using the click as the primary unit of subscriber behavior. As open tracking becomes more unreliable, and channels like SMS not even having such a metric, the click is one of the better metrics for gauging and targeting user behavior.
Basically, you can specify custom tags on any link, image, or button inside the Email Builder. Any clicks by users on those tagged elements will then flow up to their profile-level, so you can further segment or trigger automations based on those tagged click actions.

Some random ideas for use cases:

  • Clicked on Sale hero graphic > pushed into a discount-oriented segment
  • Clicked on Product Category link > trigger automation around best-sellers for that category
  • Clicked on Referral Program, but Didn't Sign up > trigger referral program abandonment automation

The revenue attribution window is 5 day clicks for both email and SMS. The option to adjust the window time frame or action (such as opens) is not available yet, but is upcoming.

Integrations & API

Given the host of apps we all use these days, having good integrations with the email service provider is important for accomplishing what you want with your email & SMS marketing efforts.

Supported Integrations
SendLane offers around 60 integrations in-app. This covers most of the usual suspects, and as with all integrations, the viability depends on your own tech stack and individual integration.

The full list can be found here: https://www.sendlane.com/integrations-marketplace

Custom Integrations API
SendLane does have both a front-end (JavaScript) and server-side API to support custom integrations and events. If you have a cart platform that isn't out-of-the-box supported, you'll need to go with this custom implementation. Additionally, some events can also be called to supplement existing integrations.

The front-end JavaScript option is similar to many that I've seen. You can push across the standard set of user events like Viewed Product, Added to Cart, Active on Site, and Checkout Started. You can also push these equivalent events via the server-side API.

The server-side API is available and covers a wide range of actions. A few areas in particular that's interesting:

  1. Domain suppression: This is interesting in that you can suppress not only individual contact email addresses, but also entire domains. This could be useful in dealing with bot traffic and attacks.
  2. Contact history: There's an endpoint to pull an entire contact's history, including the campaigns and events. This is useful to get granular data.
  3. Events: The endpoints for custom events, though, appear to be only POST and not GET endpoints, which makes pulling event-level metrics difficult.
  4. Campaign Reports: There's an endpoint for getting campaign report metrics; useful for constructing your own dashboards. There isn't an endpoint for SMS reports yet, but they can get it built out if needed.

List & Segments

Lists are handled in a pretty standard fashion, though I do like that the consolidated list view shows Email vs. SMS subscribers as well as list-level LTV right away:
Moreover, the drill down metrics on the list is quite strong. I love that it shows the overall and per capita $ metrics, since I've always been a strong advocate of subscriber list LTV as the ultimate metric for retention channels.
The list growth and health reporting is straightforward.
One interesting feature is the automatic list cleaning of unengaged contacts. I'd probably make sure to have a proper re-engagement sequence set up first before turning on this List Hygiene feature, but nonetheless it's nice since manual list cleaning is quite unreliable.
Contact Profiles

The all contacts page view is sufficient, and it's nice to see the email & SMS channel subscriptions side-by-side for each contact, again emphasizing the unified channel approach.
When I drill down into the contact-level data, one interesting feature that stands out is the support for multi-site/stores. You can see in this demo profile that the activity across two Shopify sites is tracked and unified into the single customer profile.
There's also a running event log, though I'd like to be able to see more detailed property values around each event inside of this contact profile view:

Segmentation functionality is quite important. SendLane has nested logic for segments, and allows access to default events, integrated events, and profile properties.
This combination should be sufficient for most use cases.

One feature I wish it had more consistently is to be able to drill down by Frequency and Time in combination for every segmentable element, i.e. Shopify ordered 3x in the last 2 months. Or Clicked 4x in the last 15 days.

Something I do like a lot is the "In/Out of Automation" segment criteria, which is useful for constructing campaign segments easily excluding those who are currently part of a competing, more valuable Automation such as:

The organization of triggers is sensible and flexible, with categorization based on the base SendLane trigger options and all integrated app events.
A nice feature here is the ability to add multiple top-level triggers for any automation:
Trigger filters include frequency limit options as well as event-specific property filters:
SendLane has another level of automation filtering. They encapsulate this in what they call "Goals".

The Goal description specifies: When specific conditions are met, the contact will jump to this position.

This effectively means the user will jump to the Goal node as soon as they hit the target criteria.

This method works well for common use cases like stopping the automation as soon as a target places an order. For example, a Checkout Abandonment automation can just hold a single goal at the end:
Goal configuration options to end/continue/wait helps extend the flexibility even further.
One cool thing is you can also trigger a custom event at goal completion.
I still would have liked to see traditional message-level filtering in addition. That said, you can reproduce most of those filter conditions with conditional splits.

Conditional Splits
Conditional splits are available:
The default action nodes include:
I like the flexibility with the Update Automation node, which can really help keep the user's movement organized.

Likewise, the Webhook option gives flexibility for external app data-pushing.

Audience Splits
As a variant of Conditional Splits, SendLane has "Audience Splits" which are essentially a random sampling split for purposes of testing entire pathways vs. split testing of singular messages.

This is quite useful because many times your testing hypothesis, especially regarding automations, isn't as simply as "which subject is better for the first email" but rather more along the lines of "which sequence of messages works best to convert this type of user".

The audience split functionality gives you the power to test these pathway hypotheses easily.
Typical eCommerce Sequences
One thing I always like to see in an ESP is at least the ability to implement typical eCommerce automation sequences.

While you can always get more advanced and nuanced with automations, having the basics goes a long way and is important for ESPs to support.

Here's a quick table based on my investigation:
Campaigns are the life-blood of most email programs, and considered core functionality for ESPs.

The initial campaign screen offers some analytics options like custom utm_campaign values for Google Analytics, RSS feeds, and A/B-Winner Experiments.
As I'll mention in the A/B Split testing section, I like that they have the ability to determine the winner based on Revenue in addition to open and click rates.

Target Audience
The next screen of audience selection defines the target contacts for the campaign.

What I'm looking for here is the ability to include & exclude multiple lists and segments. This indeed is a feature:
Also, the choice of sender profiles is nice, as you may want to differentiate the from name/addresses across different campaign sends.

You can also target directly by tags:
Content Builder
I found the SendLane campaign builder to be quite good.

From a design options perspective, it has a range of style, layout, and block element options:
Notably a few of the options I liked:

  • HTML block - this is useful if you want to just selectively write HTML, and useful in scripting using directly the template language (See below).

  • Dynamic products - you can run dynamic or static product blocks, useful for a product recommendations section.
  • Saved block - a nice quality of life feature.
  • Testimonials - this links directly into the site to pull the reviews.
Adding personalization variables can be done within the drag & drop blocks:
Or you call the variables via the templating language SendLane uses, which is called Twig. Typical conditional statements, for and while loops, and variable filters tags are all available within the Twig syntax.

SendLane also has a template library for preset and custom templates, as well as a raw HTML editor.
The scheduling is pretty standard with the options for immediate deployment or scheduling for a set time.
They do have send time optimization (called Machine Learning Open Predictability here) , which is a more advanced feature.

Time zone localization though, i.e. sending at the set time for each recipient's time zone is an advanced feature that's not present though.

Forms & Pages

Unsubscribe & Preferences
The basic pages like the Unsubscribe, Manage Preferences, and Double Opt-in Confirmation pages have a degree of design and text customization.
However, the individual fields are not editable, so you cannot add new input fields on say, the Manage Preferences page. This makes it hard in case you want to capture additional subscriber preferences such as desired frequency of emails, campaign type, and product category preferences.

The default page content does have needed fields for most basic use cases. The combined unsubscribe for SMS and Email on one page is a nice addition, which is consistent with unified channel philosophy.
While third-party email capture software is quite popular, ESPs these days are expected to have baseline functionality around popup email capture forms. SendLane does offer this functionality out-of-the-box.

You get to choose between several positions:
And there's a design content editor for the popup.
With some basic targeting settings.
The popup is capable of capturing email and SMS, though it doesn't support sequential captures (like email screen, then SMS screen or vice versa) and instead has both fields grouped together. I'd also have liked to be able to customize the Thank You screen message, perhaps with a dynamic coupon code as well.

Overall, the popup module checks the box for basic functionality, but if you want to get more sophisticated, you'll likely need to go with a third-party provider.


Alongside email, SMS is another powerful retention channel for brands. SendLane has its own native SMS functionality.

The SMS audience selection and builder screens mimic the email campaign builder functionality:
They also show an estimated credits usage in the sidebar, which is a nice little feature to track your cost of send.

MMS messages are supported as well.


SendLane recently launched its own native Reviews module. This makes it at parity with ESPs like Klaviyo that have also launched native Reviews.

Their demo video goes a good overview of the functionality:
Since it is a native feature, I like the tighter integration of the reviews collection and data into the messaging, as opposed to trying to import reviews data from another app.

The review collection block doesn't seem to have dynamic submissions though, so the user will have to click through to the site proper to fill out the review. That said, this may not be such a bad thing, as more visits to the site means more opportunity for additional purchases.

In my view, review data is another behavioral data point that is useful in segmentation.

Customer leaving 5-star happy reviews? A perfect opportunity to upsell/cross-sell, convert to loyalty/referral programs, add to a VIP segment, etc.

Customer leaving bad reviews? A chance to address the issue or at least suppress the contact from marketing messages.

Regardless of how you use the data, I'm all for tighter data integration with the messaging platform (ESP), as it gives you the maximum flexibility to execute against your strategies.

Deliverability Infrastructure

In-house vs. Outsourced
SendLane runs their own in-house deliverability infrastructure. This generally gives more control over the reputation of the IPs. Many ESP's will outsource this part of the platform, i.e. Klaviyo uses SendGrid as the underlying architecture.

Dedicated Sending Domain
Being able to configure your Return-Path domain so that it comes from your brand's domain instead of the platform's is important for getting your SPF alignment to pass.

It does allow custom send domains, similar to an ESP like Klaviyo, though the methodology is slightly different, with a full NS port instead of just CNAMEs.
Dedicated IPs
Dedicated IPs are available on request for qualifying senders.

Multiple Sender Profiles
SendLane supports multiple sender profiles which is useful if you have different subdomains and differentiated categories of emails, such as support-oriented, educational, product, transactional.
Data Management

Product Feeds
SendLane supports custom product catalog feeds. They prefer to work directly with the end customer to get these setup.

Custom Data Fields
SendLane supports data imports, but it looks like it's a CSV-based import.
You can also directly add custom fields via the Personalization tab. The process is straightforward, though the data types are limited only to Text and Date (no Boolean, Number, Arrays).
Coupon Management
SendLane does have a unique coupon option, which is based on a CSV upload list, which then gets picked off on each email message sent.
This is pretty standard practice for handling dynamic coupon codes, though some others ESPs allow a more automated generation for certain shopping carts like Shopify.

Testing & Optimization

A/B Split Testing
A/B Testing can accommodate up to 4 variants. What I like is the configuration options that allow flexibility with the test duration and winner selection:

  • Specific amount of time Select a set period of time to run the experiment for
  • Total emails to be sent Enter a number value for the total number of emails that the Automation should send before selecting a winner
  • Ongoing Select this option to send multiple variations of the email indefinitely, or until you manually choose a winner
Moreover, the criterion metric can also be on Revenue instead of just Opens or Clicks.

Send Time Optimization
Send Time Optimization is a feature for campaigns where you set a target send time range, and the message will get sent according to an automatic evaluation of each recipient's past open/click behaviors regarding time of day.

SendLane does offer send time optimization on campaigns, though they term it "Machine Learning Open Predictability".

Having robust reports in-app falls lower on my own importance scale, because we almost always end up exporting the raw data out and feeding it into our own custom reports & dashboards for clients anyways, which end up looking something like this:
As you get more granular or specific with reporting needs, a customized dashboard is usually going to meet the needs much better.

That said, it's nice to have some flexibility in-app to craft custom reports, especially for marketing teams that are limited on resources or don't have the inclination to spend time on extracting data for external reports.

SendLane currently doesn't let you configure and move around your own custom reports in-app, but they do have their standard reporting that pretty much shows you most of the standard metrics you'll need. Plus their account managers can create and deliver weekly reports.

Bounce & Complaint Handling
SendLane's policy is pretty standard here. Hard bounces and spam complaints automatically move the profile to the global suppression list.

There is no auto-suppression of soft bounces.

Reply Handling
For SMS, SendLane offers a two-way reply inbox for tracking and interacting with contact replies. This comes out-of-the-box with any SMS credits plan:
For email replies, those will just get routed directly to your address in the From: field.

SMS Compliance
SMS compliance is important because of the strict regulations and penalties. From a platform standpoint, I'm looking for support for such elements as:

  • Unsubscribe reply handling ("Stop")
  • Automatic delaying of messages to recipient day time hours
  • SMS opt-in confirmations
  • Tracking opt-in data trail
SendLane supports all of this out-of-the-box.

Email Compliance
Email compliance varies by jurisdiction, so usually the burden for implementation is shared by both the merchant and the platform.

Functionality that can be platform-enabled would be things like:

  • Tracking opt-in data
  • Location segmenting for opt-ins and targeting
  • Automatic opt-out processing
  • Data security and review

SendLane seems at parity with other ESPs regarding this. Given their attention to infrastructure-level elements like deliverability, and the fact they are actively employing compliance staff (like one of the contributors to the CAN-SPAM act), I think their email compliance support should be pretty strong.


In summary, I think SendLane is a solid choice for an eCommerce brand. The functionality is flexible and advanced enough for most use cases. There may be some functions on the margins that power users may miss, though it also has a set of unique features that compensate for this.

Their operating philosophy is also well-tuned to the merchant needs, and the development feature updates happen at a nice clip. They also appear to be more hands-on with proactive support, which is a plus.

By the way, if you are looking at migrating email platforms and want some help with the heavy lifting, we do have an email platform migration service.

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