Over the past several months, SparkPost, in collaboration with the Gmail team at Google, has been working with senders like Pinterest and Booking.com to empower them to develop engaging, interactive emails using AMP for Email technology. Gmail officially launched AMP for Email today, and we’re very excited to announce that SparkPost customers now have the ability to send AMP emails from SparkPost.

To mark the occasion, I wanted to share some of the reasons we think you’ll be excited about this new capability, too. Read on to learn:

  • What AMP for Email is all about
  • Some great examples of how SparkPost customers are innovating with AMP for Email
  • How to get started with AMP for Email on SparkPost

What is AMP for Email?

Google and the publisher ecosystem spearheaded the open source AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) Project to help publishers develop fast web pages that are optimized for mobile clients. Since its launch in 2016, AMP has had a large impact on the mobile web user experience and engagement.

Now, AMP for Email adapts the AMP technology to the unique needs of the email inbox. AMP for Email gives senders the ability to enhance messages with interactive and data-driven features that have the potential to transform the way recipients interact with messages.

AMP for Email provides email developers with a set of rich components that include carousels, responsive form elements, and—maybe most exciting of all—the ability to dynamically retrieve fresh content that updates even after a message has been sent. Email recipients can view and interact with AMP components directly in the email, without leaving their primary inbox experience.

AMP for Email Compared to Past Forms of Interactive HTML Email

It’s true that the idea of interactive email per se is not new. After all, senders have had the option of using HTML to engage email audiences with compelling and eye-catching content for some time. But, HTML support in email has always been a limited subset of what we expect from the web. And perhaps most limiting, once a message was sent, the content was more-or-less frozen in time.

Just consider an airline ticket receipt. If you’re like me, you’ve often saved these to keep track of flight details. But that information isn’t fixed—for example, flights are late, and gates frequently change. More often than not, the information in my original flight confirmation email is stale.

So one of the big leaps we think AMP for email brings to senders and recipients alike is the ability to include live, up-to-date content directly to the email. Gate change? Next time I open my receipt, that info can be presented.

Another area where we think AMP could be a game-changer is better alignment with users’ expectations of security and privacy—i.e., eliminating some of the ways crude HTML makes phishing more likely. While there’s no bulletproof solution against this sort of risk, AMP for Email does include modern phishing and spam mitigation strategies not possible with straight HTML. We’ve found it also implements a relatively conservative subset of AMP functionality, an important aspect of containing overall exposure to risk.

SparkPost Customers Innovate with AMP for Email

It’s not hard to come up with compelling use cases for AMP for Email. An email from a social app, for example, might allow users to react to shared posts just as they do within the app, but without leaving the email. In fact, Pinterest is enabling just that. Pinterest’s AMP emails allow Pinners to view and save items to a board with a great user experience very similar to what they’d experience in the Pinterest app.

Example of Pinterest AMP-enabled email

 

Booking.com also is implementing AMP for Email by focusing on content and interaction models that their users would expect to find on their mobile app or website. An example of that is using AMP to display rich content and preview destinations directly within the email.

Example of Booking.com AMP-enabled email

But rather than take my word for it, listen first-hand to the teams at Pinterest and Zillow as they share how they plan to implement AMP for Email.

 

How to Get Started with AMP for Email on SparkPost

SparkPost has been working with the Gmail team to make sure that our customers who wish to use AMP in their messages can hit the ground running. Our initial implementation provides support for AMP in several ways:

First, we make it easy to send AMP-enabled messages. The SparkPost Transmissions API supports a new optional field in the content JSON object: content.amp_html, a UTF-8 encoded string representing the AMP for Email HTML content. SparkPost will insert this as a text/x-amp-html MIME part in the appropriate location of the MIME tree, perform engagement tracking (if enabled), and insert substitution data as expected.

(What if you inject messages via SMTP but want to send AMP-enabled messages, too? No problem! Be sure to use the proper MIME structure; text/x-amp-html must be a descendant of multipart/alternative, and live alongside at least one of text/html or text/plain MIME parts.)

Second, SparkPost has AMP-specific engagement metrics. Basic engagement tracking for opens and clicks are supported through an AMP-specific tracking pixel. As a result, senders can separately report and compare AMP opens and clicks with traditional HTML opens and clicks in SparkPost analytics, Events API, and Webhook events. Down the road, we may provide additional, advanced engagement tracking for AMP messages, depending upon our customers’ needs.

Last, but not least, we have added support for AMP in SparkPost templates, including metadata and substitution data in a template’s AMPHTML MIME part. In other words, SparkPost templates make it easy to implement AMP content, and we treat AMP content as a first-class citizen along with regular HTML and plaintext.

Additional, hands-on detail about implementing AMP for Email in SparkPost supports AMP for Email can be found in our Knowledge Base.

Share Your Thoughts!

I’d love to hear what you plan to do with SparkPost’s support for AMP for Email—and how you’d like to see from AMP for Email and our capabilities evolve as we move forward.

—Isaac Kim
Technical Product Manager