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!

Product Emails That Rock

I recently discussed several core categories of emails that are essential to SaaS applications. Nearly every app needs account activations, welcome and onboarding messages, account and security alerts, and even humble password resets, but how they’re implemented can vary widely. Today I’d like to share a few examples of really effective product emails and dive into why they work so well.

Slack’s Confirmation Email

Slack’s email confirmation makes the task clear without sacrificing a distinctive voice.

Where to find it: Whenever you sign into Slack for the first time (or from a new device), Slack will send you a confirmation email like this one.

Why it’s fantastic: Slack’s confirmation email has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it’s clear what the user needs to do. A direct subject line and headline, along with an obvious call to action and button help a user get to the point without a lot of cognitive overload. But that directness is balanced with clarifying information that puts the ask in context—as well as a style and voice that’s consistent with Slack’s distinctive brand.

Product Hunt’s Social Notification


Product Hunt’s social notification drives engagement.

Where to find it: When a Product Hunt user is followed by another user, she or he will get an email like this one.

Why it’s fantastic: Shares and notifications are a staple of any social platform, and they’re a key driver of engagement and growth. A major reason Product Hunt’s take overachieves is that it’s actually full of content that reinforces the site’s social activity and perceived value. And, like Slack’s earlier example, details like the subject line emoji and word choices nicely capture the playfulness of the Product Hunt user experience.

Eatsa’s Transaction Receipt

Eatsa’s receipt is so much more than a generic transactional email.

Where to find it: Eatsa sends patrons a receipt like this one shortly after they order a meal.

Why it’s fantastic: Eatsa is a modern, app-enabled automat. There are few or no staff members in the front of the house; an Eatsa store is all sleek glass and LCD touchscreens. So, it’s really important that the business deliver a great customer experience in other ways. This receipt is a good example of that. It serves the functional need of providing a transaction receipt, but it goes well beyond rudimentary transactional emails by adopting a clear voice, employing crisp visual design, and integrating a live customer survey into the body of the email. One more touch? The “Talk to a human” link at the bottom helps soften any sense of a sterile experience.

SparkPost’s Personalized Data Report Card


SparkPost’s personalized deliverability report card uses data to provide high-value information.

Where to find it: Every SparkPost user receives this weekly summary of their basic email delivery performance.

Why it’s fantastic: Here, I’m going to show off one of my own babies. SparkPost’s weekly email deliverability report card is a great example of how SaaS businesses can use data-driven email updates to provide additional value and actionable information to users. In this case, SparkPost provides an at-a-glance weekly review of account performance with health metrics and usage details. In addition to raw metrics, the report shows relative performance to other senders and links to best practices and support resources—at precisely the moment a user is most likely to be interested in the topic.

Learn More

I hope these fantastic product emails have inspired you to think about how email can drive better user engagement with your own app. And if you’re just getting started with notifications and other types of product emails, be sure to check out “The Product Manager’s Guide to Email.” It’s a great resource to help product teams get up to speed.

Do you have an example of a great product email? I’d love to see it. Send us a tweet! Even better—submit it to the Sparky Awards for a chance to win Best Product Email of the Year, with all the glory (and prizes) that go with it!


Recognizing The Best In Email

It’s my favorite time of the year! Everyone is energized for a fresh start, setting goals and committing to new and healthy habits. Additionally, it’s movie and TV awards season which means it’s also SPARKY AWARDS season! That’s right! We’re excited to announce the 2018 Sparky Awards! We’ll be taking submissions for 5 award categories from today until March 2, 2018!

These awards are a favorite of mine because they celebrate the best and brightest professionals who use email in some truly unique ways to engage with their customer bases and grow their businesses. From clever subject lines to crafty re-engagement campaigns to well constructed triggered event emails, the submissions we get each year just get better and better.

We’ve also revamped a few categories based on community feedback, brought in some fresh faces to the judging table and we’re ready to hear what you’ve been working on for the past year! Below you’ll find all the necessary info and more importantly, learn what the grand prize is!

The 2018 Sparky Awards Categories:

  • Best Triggered Email
  • Best Email Subject Line
  • Best Use of a SparkPost Product
  • Best Interactive Email (hint hint)
  • Best Product Email

For full descriptions of each category and ideas on what to submit, check out the official Sparky Awards page.

What’s In It For You

The winner of each award category will take home a physical Sparky Award along with fame, notoriety and a feature of their submission on our blog. From the winners pool, the judges will select one grand prize winner who will receive up to $1000 toward a conference of their choice!*

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone

If you’re not sure that anything you’ve worked on is Sparky Awards worthy – don’t worry! We’re here to help! Over the course of the next 6 weeks, we’ll be sharing examples on our blog of great product emails, interactive emails and triggered email campaigns to inspire your submissions and even remind you of the great work you probably did last year but forgot about.

So, are you ready? Enter here for a chance to win a 2018 Sparky Award, and follow along on Twitter (#SparkyAwards) to see what other email pros are doing.

We’re looking forward to another awesome year of submissions!


Check out last year’s Sparky Awards winners

terms & conditions apply 

The Best in Email: 2017 Sparky Award Winners

How about that Oscars ending last Sunday? While the Sparky Awards don’t have nearly as dramatic of a twist, we are very excited to share the 2017 Sparky Award winners with you and recognize some seriously awesome efforts in the email space.

As word got out about the second annual Sparky Awards, our submissions nearly quadrupled in volume from last year. Our judges pored over nominations and eventually narrowed it down to a field of 2 top entries in each category and deliberated over the final category winners. Turns out you can have some fun with transactional emails, get super creative with subject line testing to gather data, AND solve important real-world problems with our API.

Without further ado, here are our 2017 Sparky Award winners:

Best Subject Line

Winner: Evite
Subject Line: Are you kitten me right meow?
Submission Recap: This email announced the launch of Evite’s new invitation category, “Pet Parties”. Evite had no data on which of their users were interested in pets, so the team needed an engaging subject line that would entice a broad group of users to open. They conducted a 10/10/80 A/B split test on the tone of the subject and message: Playful vs. Traditional announcement. The ultimate subject line for this email, “Are you kitten me right meow?”, had an open rate 2x higher than average. The then-proven “Playful” tone set the precedent for high open rates and engaging copy throughout the rest of Evite’s summer campaign

Best Transactional Email

Winner: Zillow
Submission Recap: Looking to increase engagement on favorited homes, users are sent an email with dynamic up-to-the-time-of-send stats on a favorited home (views & listings) within 24 hours of favoriting. More than 2 saves within 24 hours are batched into a digest version. There are many interaction points in the email – clickable images, links and multiple category buttons per image. Surfacing the number of people who have also viewed and saved that same home introduced an element of transparency (whether or not the home was popular) as well as competition (Be the First to See it!)

Best Use of the SparkPost API

Winner: Audio Images International, Inc.
Submission Recap: AIII operates a full-service multi-tenant messaging system specifically targeting property managers. SparkPost powers the fully integrated messaging service, complementing their best-in-class automated answering service. AIII’s focus is on empowering property managers to send timely and targeted communication to their hundreds of residents. Messages can be sent to individual units, or to an entire building. Residents receive messages in their format of choice, whether that’s html / text email, a text message, or both. AIII then processes webhook event data from SparkPost to let their customers, the property managers, know when they might have a typo’d email address (hard bounce), or what percent of residents interacted with the message (open and/or click). Their preference center and webhook-driven reporting make them stand out as a great use of the SparkPost API.

Grand Prize

The grand prize 2017 Sparky Award winner and recipient of up to $1000 in cash toward an industry conference is… Audio Images International, Inc!

Congratulations to all of the winners, you’ll all be receiving an engraved 2017 Sparky Award with your company name & category!

And special thanks to our judges: Dan Levinson, Clea Moore, Dave Gray & Celebrity Guest Judge Jack Wrigley.


Thoughts on the Sparky Awards or email in general? Leave us a comment below or tweet us.

Join us for the Premier Email Industry Awards Event!

We’re excited to share that the Sparky Awards are back for a second year! We’re celebrating exceptional email API development and email marketing efforts by recognizing outstanding work in several categories. Because they’re designed to coincide with the Oscars and official award season, the Sparky Awards run from January 23, 2017 through February 24th. We will announce the three winners back here on the blog on or about March 6, 2017. So, know a developer, company, or email pro who deserves recognition and can’t wait a minute longer? Nominate them or your own project!

The Sparky Awards recognize and celebrate the creativity and skill of those leveraging email to scale their business. Anyone can enter, from large companies, start-ups, email managers, or developers – we’re celebrating email professionals and developers on all points of the spectrum. We also realize you have a choice in email service providers and platforms, which is why you don’t need to be a SparkPost customer to enter or win — with the exception of the Best Use of the SparkPost API – which you can quickly setup an account to be eligible for.

2017 Sparky Awards Categories

Due to feedback from 2016, we’ve trimmed it down this year to focus on the three core areas that drive a lot of discussion in our community and the industry. Therefore, here are the categories for the 2017 Sparky Awards:

  • Best Transactional Email
  • Best Subject Line
  • Best Use of the SparkPost API


Our judges panel is comprised of email industry experts, both inside and outside of SparkPost. While several work for SparkPost, each judge was hand selected to represent a different section of the email business. Curious who you need to impress? Here’s a look at our 2017 judges:

  • Dan Levinson – Technical Account Manager, SparkPost
  • Clea Moore – Deliverability Manager, SparkPost
  • Jack Wrigley – VP Business Development, Kickbox.io
  • David Gray, Principal Solutions Engineer, SparkPost

How It Works

In order to be considered, simply fill out the nomination form. Select which award you’re nominating yourself (or someone else!) for, then provide any supporting context, examples and documentation. Once submissions close, our panel of judges will deliberate and determine winners for each category, then vote on a grand prize winner. Be sure to include all relevant contact information so we can get ahold of you if we need additional info, or if you’re a winner!

What’s In It For You?

Once determined, the winner from each category will receive a coveted Sparky Award trophy engraved with their name and bragging rights for a year. In addition, one grand prize winner will receive a ticket to an email or industry conference of their choice – up to $1000. Terms and conditions apply.

2017 sparky awards

Questions about The  2017 Sparky Awards? Tweet us, or leave a comment down below. Good luck!

Do you already have a winner in mind? Submit to win a Sparky! You can see who took home the 2016 Sparky Award honors here.

orange we heart developers banner twitter awards

On February 23rd I had just returned from Fiji, surviving Hurricane Winston. This was the worst hurricane in history to ever hit the southern hemisphere. On Feb 24th, another hurricane hit on Twitter when Mandrill announced they were shutting down their free service tier. Many of you took to Twitter to frantically seek advice and alternatives.

The next 68 days that followed, our goal was to reach as many of you as possible with answers and possible solutions. In fact, it was actually your feedback, which helped us move up our timeline on subaccounts. (Thanks for that feedback and please keep it coming.)

We have some of the most talented engineers working at SparkPost. Believe me, we are as passionate about coding as you are. But for me, on February 24th I wondered, do engineers make good Tweeters? As it turns out, they do.

Twitter Awards: Growing Our Community With Your Feedback

We empowered our employees to take to Twitter and answer your questions with their personal handles as best they could.  We simply couldn’t handle the traffic and questions solely with our corporate handle. Additionally, we had to communicate internally via our Slack channels to get you answers quickly enough. (Since many of us on the social media team aren’t engineers!) This allowed us to aide in your decision. From this experience we decided to open up a public community Slack channel for all of you, managed by our Community Manager Mary, yet another great by-product to come out of all of this. We also created Twitter Ads advertising our 100K free for life tier, which many questioned. “Is this too good to be true?”- that is, until our CEO confirmed it was real in his blog post, “I Am All In. My Promise to Developers.”

Even though SparkPost has been a leader in the email industry space for a decade, many of you hadn’t heard of our SaaS platform product. Yet, you trusted SparkPost with your business – and I am grateful that you did. (In fact, if you haven’t received one of our limited edition client library laptop stickers, I’d like to send you one. Go to this page for details.)

Fast forward to last week where we won a Twitter Award in the ‘Twitter for Small Biz #Growth’ category. We certainly have grown a lot this year, in part, thanks to you. Although it’s nice to win an award, the real win for us is you. We’re so glad to have you as part of our SparkPost family. When we say #WeLoveDevelopers, we really do. Some of you have been vocal in letting us know how much you appreciate the ease of use of our SparkPost APIs and how seamless it is to make the switch.

19 Reasons Why Developers Love SparkPost from SparkPost

As we continue to grow, we want to keep hearing from you, what cool projects you’re working on, and your suggestions to improve the SparkPost product. Stay tuned, because we’ll be rolling out our 2nd Annual Sparky Awards contest where you can submit your kick-ass projects.

Didn’t get a chance to follow this year’s Twitter Awards? You can follow the latest news through #twitterawards – And as always, if you need help, contact us on Twitter, Slack, or just follow the flame.  😉

– Tracy


The 2016 Sparkys

Has email transformed or revolutionized your organization? Are you an email geek like the rest of us? We’d like to celebrate email pros on both sides of the house (marketers and developers) with the Sparky Awards!

The Sparky Awards are designed to recognize and celebrate the creativity and skill of those leveraging email to scale their business. We realize you have a choice in email service providers and platforms which is why you don’t need to be a SparkPost customer to enter (except in the two categories that make use of the SparkPost API).

And the judges are…

The categories are:

  • Best Email Campaign
  • Best Subject Line
  • Best Unsubscribe Page
  • Best Use of SparkPost API
  • Best Use of SparkPost API through a Partner or New Integration (e.g. Heroku, Ongage, Iterable, HPExstream, Zapier, etc.)

What’s in it for you besides fame and notoriety? All winners will receive a coveted Sparky Award and SparkPost t-shirt. One grand prize winner will receive the aforementioned and a ticket to our Insight Conference 2016. Airfare is not included. Click here for official terms and conditions.

Do you already have a winner in mind? Submit to win a Sparky!

Sparky Awards 2016