2018 Sparky Award Winners

Another year, another great awards season! Each year that we host the Sparky Awards, we see some remarkable submissions from our community. You folks are doing some awesome things with email to engage your recipients and nurture valuable relationships. With the buzz around Interactive Email and our own introduction of HEML earlier this year, we decided to add that category to the mix with some truly stand out projects.

Without further ado, here are the winners in each category for the 2018 Sparky Awards!

Best Email Subject Line

Winner: Zillow
Submission Recap: Repeat winner alert! Zillow continues to impress us with their timely and clever emails. This simple subject line “Spaces (and Jokes) Dads Love” went out on Father’s Day and did a wonderful job combining the relevance of a holiday with relatable and engaging content – in the form of dad jokes!

zillow dad jokes 2018 sparky award winner


Best Triggered Email

Winner: Really Good Emails
Submission Recap: Really Good Emails was looking for ways to confirm or ask for subscriber’s information after opt-in that didn’t feel intrusive. Using Campaign Monitor, they set up a flow to trigger an email two weeks after sign-up to check and see if the subscribers had updated their personal info. If they hadn’t, the subscriber got a playful “this is awkward, we want know you better” email prompting for a quick opt-in and update of personal information with a “Hello my name is…” CTA. In addition to an incredible increase in basic subscriber info that can be used to personalize emails and interactions, the fun email really drove engagement on social channels – Really Good Emails got dozens of tweets praising the simple but effective email.

really good emails triggered 2018 sparky award winners email

Best Use of the SparkPost API

Winner: Charlie Novoa, InFocus Ad Agency
Submission Recap: Email delivery isn’t the most glamorous thing, but it is a critical element to almost all business operations. Charlie from InFocus Advertising Agency works with an ever-changing landscape of clients and software solutions, each with their own demands and hurdles.

“We’re using SparkPost to send form submissions from Single Page Applications or Landing Pages that we use for Pay-per-click and other marketing campaigns. Right off the bat, SparkPost became our go-to service. Not only did it come with a great suite of features, but we also benefited from the reliability and deliverability that we would have never achieved on our own. The API is extremely easy to implement and the documentation is very well written and extensive! There are so many neat features that we still haven’t even explored. As a result of implementing SparkPost, We’ve saved innumerable hours that would have been spent tinkering, debugging or spinning up servers.”

Best Product Email

Winner: GovX
Submission Recap: This timely email was sent to an active Air Force member on Valentine’s Day featuring products relevant to that specific demographic. GovX is a top member-based retailer exclusively for the men and women who’ve served our country. Featuring over 700 brands and more than 75,000 products, GovX sends over 300 million emails per year. In 2016, GovX partnered with Cordial and SparkPost to build, personalize and deliver email. The GovX team is now able to automatically pull relevant imagery and content from a library that is specific to their various user types, removing the need for multiple versions of the same email. This drastically reduced the time needed to create a campaign, allowing GovX to focus on developing new programs as well as more sophisticated and personalized product emails like the one featured here.

Best Interactive Email

Winner: SuperMailQuest by Aaron Simmonds @ CHS Creative
Submission Recap: This project quite simply knocked our socks off. SuperMailQuest (SMQ) is an interactive story game that allows you to choose your own path through a series of choices. The goal is to navigate your way through the story with the aim of defeating the “Warlock of Outlook mountain”. The creator, Aaron, not only taught himself CSS animation but also how to control those animations, scale multiple elements for mobile and additionally set fallbacks for non-interactive email clients. On average his project has a 58% open rate and 44% click through rate.

interactive email 2018 sparky award winner

Drumroll Please

The grand prize 2018 Sparky Award winner and recipient of up to $1000 in cash toward an industry conference is… SuperMailQuest! Congratulations on an excellent submission showcasing just some of the fun one can have with interactive emails!

Congratulations to all of the winners, you’ll all be receiving an engraved 2018 Sparky Award with your company name & category!

And special thanks to our judges: Irina, Alyssa, Jamie, Avi and Dan!


PS: If contests are your thing, watch this space in the coming weeks for an exciting contest we’re running to win tickets to Litmus Live!

Interactive Email: Taking Email To The Next Level

Interactive email is what really drew me to the email world. It was the inspiration behind HEML and led me to some amazing resources and communities. Litmus reports that it has been a hot topic for email people for a couple of years now and with Google’s recent announcements around AMP support in Gmail, it’s an even more viable investment for businesses.

An interactive email brings some sort of functionality into the inbox based on a user’s action. That could be showing a hidden message when the user clicks a button or creatively using scrolling to tell a story. You can read more about it here, learn how to build an interactive email here, or watch a fun animation (by yours truly) on how it works here.

The development of interactive email shows there’s still an amazing amount of untapped potential in email. We’re big fans of pushing the limits of email at SparkPost so we decided to make “interactive email” a category in this year’s Sparky Awards.

There are so many good use cases for interactivity in emails, from games to in-email purchases. I’d like to share some of my favorite examples. And if you’re the makers of any of them, definitely enter! 😉


E-commerce is a space where interactive email really shines. A wonderful example is a Nest Black Friday promotional email. It allowed you to fill your cart and go to checkout right from the email!

Live Demo

Customer Feedback

A tangible benefit from interactive email is removing friction for users that might lead them to drop off otherwise. Our friends at Rebel have done some really amazing things in this space. One of the most pragmatic uses is their product review email that they’ve built out for customers like Home Depot, who saw a 55% increase in completed reviews!!


Customer Engagement and Storytelling

Not everything in email has to drive direct revenue. Sometimes it can be about engaging and delighting your customers and building out your relationships. Justin Khoo from Email on Acid shared an awesome technique for pseudo-randomness in CSS by building out a magic 8-ball. He built the email around asking the question, “Is your email ready to send?” It’s an awesome marketing email for Email on Acid and definitely sticks in the mind.

Live Demo


The last email I want to share is from Taco Bell. 🌮 It’s different from the others here because it doesn’t provide a clickable action. Instead, it uses scrolling as the interaction. The email tells a story of 3 people starting their days. This email really stuck in my mind and leads the reader to the end result of ordering some breakfast!

Live Demo


If you’ve built any interactive emails you’re proud of, definitely, submit them to the Sparky Awards for a chance at $1000 dollars to any conference 🏆! If interactive email isn’t your thing (😢), don’t worry! There are 4 other categories that you can submit for.

Happy Sending!