Introduction to Email APIs

Intro to Email API

Some studies show that email brings in 18 times more revenue than any other platform, making it the most effective online marketing medium we have today.

That’s right, email beats Facebook and even Google advertising.

Unless you are marketing in specific geographical locations, emails are the default medium for all online communications.

Even Facebook and LinkedIn make excessive use of email to keep their users “engaged” because it makes a huge, measurable, difference to their bottom line.

The effectiveness of email campaigns is also much easier to measure than other marketing channels.

Ad views and social media post likes can be artificially inflated with bots, making results highly inaccurate. But emails are relatively easy to measure. Simple metrics such as open-rates are usually great signals.

It’s no wonder that now any business today worth their salt are building up their email list by the thousands to generate more revenue.

However, decades-old tack-on email solutions aren’t ready for modern problems.

For example, the commonly used solution for receiving and sending emails: the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) has been around since 1973, but isn’t built for marketing purposes of today, such as email blasting campaigns.

In fact, most SMTP only allows you to send out less than a thousand 1000 emails per day. Gmail’s SMTP has a 500 emails/day send limit. Not a great idea if you need to broadcast an email to a list that has tens of thousands subscribers.

But what about other more modern solutions?

Other methods like the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) complicate the protocol significantly.

They are unreliable, and difficult to use, especially for the mom-and-pop furniture business who just wants to send email product catalogs to all their previous customers.

Here is where email APIs come in.

Now, the furniture business may not have heard of email API or what it does, but it is likely they are using one to email their customers without even knowing it.

APIs explained

By definition, APIs (“application programming interfaces”) is the fundamental method by which all the virtual infrastructure embodied by the cloud is interconnected.

A simple analogy is with the power outlets on the wall of your office or home.

These outlets provide a standardized interface to connect an appliance to the power network.

Simple, right?

Yes, it is. But on a closer look, that standard gets a little more complicated. If you have an older house outfitted with 2-pin wall outlets, you can’t plug in appliances that use the grounding function of the three-pronged UK plugs.

Of course, if you’re traveling to the US, you’ll need a special flat pin adapter to plug in your laptop, because it’s a different standard over there.

And if you go to Australia, it’s another type of pin, and you need another adapter too.

APIs have a similar quality. They are the standardized way for software to plug into another piece of software.

APIs connect independent systems, services, and technologies. And email APIs are how any app or service can add email functionality without reinventing the wheel.

Why Email API?

Unlike traditional email protocols, email APIs make it easier to send emails.

This is especially useful if your business deals with online transactions. The API handles the automatic email receipts sending for you.

When a cloud email delivery API, you can integrate email into the website or app, without needing you to manage the servers.

Everything from sending emails to deliverability (making sure your email don’t end up in the receiver’s spam folder) is done for you, and you don’t have to handle any of these complicated procedures.

In general, the process of generating and sending a notification or transactional email with an email API looks something like this:

An event occurs, such as an e-commerce purchase or a password reset, in a web-based service or a mobile app.
The service or app communicates with an API on the cloud email delivery service and provides such information as the customer email address, the details of the purchase or password reset, and other information.
The email service creates a message with those details, using a template that has already been established for that specific purpose. (For example, you probably want a purchase email to look and read differently from a password reset email, given what a customer likely expects in each situation.)
The email service transmits the message, negotiating the various technical “handshakes” required to ensure the email is delivered into the customer’s inbox.
The email service records specific details about the delivery of the message, such as whether it failed and why, if it was opened, if the recipient clicked any of the links in the email, and so forth. Those details are available for you to access on a dashboard.
In the past, to send such emails, you would need to set up and maintain actual physical servers manually.

On top of that, you also need the manpower and expertise to keep these servers operational. This means allocating extra budge to employ people who know how to keep the email servers up and running.

In addition, each transactional event would require the creation and send out of a fully-formed email message, an inefficient process that was not only slow but also susceptible to errors.

If your business encounters an increase in transactions, it becomes hard to keep up, such as during a sale week or winter holidays.

Nowadays, a cloud email delivery service requires the resources of a programming team that’s already working on a web-based service and/or mobile app.

Instead of the previous slow process, now they merely need to plug their code into an API and let things run.

Once that work is done, the developers can continue putting their primary focus on creating differentiated value for that service and/or app, which directly impacts a company’s revenue stream, and let the email service perform its job.

What are email APIs used for?

The most common use for email APIs for online businesses is to send email notifications and transactional emails.

These include:

Account creation notices – To notify new users about their new account information.

Password resets – To send a confirmation link for resetting passwords.

Suspicious log-in notifications – To inform the user that their account has been logged in at an unusual location.

App error messages – Sometimes, app user may miss out on critical errors, such as expired memberships. Sending an email can remind users to renew.

Purchase receipts – As a record for your customer so they can check the purchase details without needing to log into your online store.

Shipping notifications – To inform your customers the package is already on the way, and to make sure customers are updated about the location of the shipment.

Legal notices – You might have changed your terms of service, and you need to inform existing users of the changes.

On top of notifications and other transactional messages, API-driven emails can also be used for different type of tasks, such as:

Growth marketing and growth hacking efforts that depend on individualized triggers to drive customer engagement. For example, an online learning platform that wants to let users know about activity on their app, or any service and sends “You’ve completed X% of your course, you’ve unlocked part 2.”
Business owners who need to send out personalised and time-sensitive content on a massive scale, such as building up hype for an upcoming product launch.

Choosing an email API for your email success

Because of the significance of email towards business operations and marketing success, we have a ton of email APIs options for all types of business needs.

Not only do we have top players such as Gmail and Amazon providing email API solutions, we also have countless small startups entering the playing field as well.

There is no one-size-fits-all email API for any type of business, so you need to understand what are your business email requirements before you start shopping.

An email API also enables you to easily access all sorts of data, such as how many messages delivered, how many messages were rejected by the ISP (and why), and how many recipients opened a message and clicked on its links.

Traditional methods don’t allow you to measure these metrics and find out what went right (or wrong) in your email campaign.

Most cloud email platforms will offer a dashboard you can use to view this data easily, complete with charts and reports.

Any good cloud email platform will come with safeguards in place to protect against malicious denial-of-service attacks, Internet outages, weather events, and other problems that can cause email sending problems.

Because nobody wants their email system to break down on a busy week, such as December Christmas week.

Closing words

It’s tough to ignore the benefits of using an email API to power your business.

Emails empowered by API integrations can create real-time emails and dynamic experiences in your customer’s inbox.

If that isn’t enough, you’ll also gain valuable insight into up-to-date data, to help you create content that is relevant to your customer, making it easier to open, engage, and convert email readers.

About Murray Dare

Murray Dare is a Marketing Consultant, Strategist and Director at Dare Media. Murray helps UK businesses find better ways to connect with their audiences through targeted content marketing strategies.