• This blog post was originally published on 10/23/2015 and was updated on 7/05/2019

Are you brand new to email and not sure where to start? Unfortunately, sending mass email is actually a pretty complicated science. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide so you can tackle the initial steps of sending with SparkPost and fill you in on some of the jargon you’ll need to know when building out your email program.

  1. Are you sending transactional email or marketing email? Sending transactional emails can be considered as a part of doing business so you may not need opt-in consent. If you are sending marketing emails you will need your recipients to opt-in or your emails could be considered SPAM.
  2. Are you sending out immediately or scheduling a “bulk send”? Think about sending limits. Your “bulk send” amount could go over your sending limit.
  3. Make sure you are sending expected content. This could include the copy for your ‘password resets’ to the content of your newsletter. Newsletters should contain something that’s relevant to your audience and in line with expectations for when they signed up for your newsletter. If you said you’d send company news once a month, you shouldn’t start sending promotions once a week. That will generate spam complaints and poor deliverability. Deliverability consists of all the issues involved in getting your emails delivered to the expected recipient. Unexpected content could cause poor deliverability and block your email from being delivered.
  4. Next step is to set-up your sending domains. Sending domains are used to identify you as a sender, help you build a sender reputation with ISPs for better inbox placement, and allow you to send more messages on our system. Find out more about how to set-up your sending domain here.
  5. You will also need a Template. A template defines the body of your email. It is also the place to define where substitution data will go in your emails. Find out more about creating a template here.
  6. Finally, you will need is a recipient list. Recipient lists are lists of email addresses you want your emails delivered to. Again, make sure you get opt-in permission from your recipients. You should never add people to your list who have not opted-in as this can affect your deliverability. More information on setting up recipient lists can be  found here.

You can also set-up email using SMTP. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an Internet standard for electronic mail (email) transmission. Here is a video to explain sending via SMTP:

If you are sending via SMTP or REST APIs you will need an API Key. The API key is used to authenticate you acting on behalf of your account with tools outside of SparkPost. Steps to create and API key can be found here.

 While building a mass email program can certainly be a daunting task we hope that these steps point you in the right direction. With a little elbow grease we’re sure you’ll become a full-blown email pro! 


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