SuppressionListAPIToday’s production release of SparkPost provides Suppression and unsubscribe functionality via a shiny new Email Suppression List API.

Why Do I Need This and How Does it Work?

Protecting your sender reputation is essential to maximizing your email deliverability. Many inbox providers, e.g. Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail/, or AOL, opt to limit or refuse message traffic based on it. Continuing to send messages to invalid email addresses or to recipients who no longer want to receive your emails can negatively impact your sender reputation. By maintaining an up-to-date suppression list, you can avoid sending unwanted messages. A suppression list — or exclusion list, as it is sometimes called — is a list of recipient email addresses to which you do NOT want to send email.

SparkPost supports two types of email suppression lists: one (available via the Suppression List API) is specifically for your account, and a global suppression list. Message Systems maintains a global suppression list across all customers. NOTE: The Global Suppression List data is not accessible via the Email Suppression List API.

When a message is injected either using SMTP or HTTP, SparkPost will check the email address against the account-specific and global suppression lists. If an email address for a recipient matches an address on the list, that message will be rejected for delivery by SparkPost automatically.

How are Recipients added to Suppression Lists?

  • Spam Complaints / FeedBack Loops (FBLs): When a recipient clicks the “this is spam” button provided by the ISP, the ISP sends a Spam Complaint or FBL message to SparkPost. SparkPost will automatically add the recipient’s email address to your suppression list.
  • Hard Bounces: When messages bounce, the ISP will include a message that lets the sender know whether it was a “Soft Bounce” or a “Hard Bounce”. A “Soft Bounce” is a temporary error or delay indicating that the message was set to a valid recipient address, while a “Hard Bounce” indicates that the message was sent to an invalid email address that should not be retried. SparkPost will automatically add any email address associated with a “Hard Bounce” to your email suppression list.
  • Unsubscribe Requests: Recipients can request to be unsubscribed by clicking the SparkPost-provided unsubscribe link in the message or by using the List-Unsubscribe header. SparkPost will automatically add the recipient’s email address to the email suppression list.
  • Compliance Team: Recipients can contact Message Systems and request that they no longer receive messages from a particular sender. Protecting our customers’ brands and maintaining high deliverability across all Message Systems’ accounts is of the utmost importance. Message Systems’ Compliance Team ensures that we’re acting as a good sender within the email community across all our customers and takes requests of recipients very seriously. If a request is received, the Compliance Team will add the recipient’s email address to that sender’s suppression list.
  • Suppression List API: Using the REST API, you can insert/update a single entry or multiple entries in your suppression list, check the suppression status for a specific recipient, or remove a recipient from your suppression list. For more information, see the SparkPost Suppression List API.

How to Implement Link Unsubscribe Feature

The link unsubscribe features is easy to implement, simply add a link in your email in the following format:


That’s it. When users click on this link to unsubscribe, your webhook consumer will receive a link_unsubscribe event and that recipient will be added to your Suppression List.

How to Implement List-Unsubscribe Feature

The list unsubscribe features is baked into every message delivered by SparkPost by default. If you would like to know how to use this feature in your applications, read our user guide: Using Unsubscribe Events

Transactional vs. Non-Transactional Messages

SparkPost gives you the option to treat Transactional messages (such as password resets and shipping notifications) and non-Transactional messages (such as Marketing offers and newsletters) differently for the purpose of suppressing recipients. For example, you likely do not want to suppress recipients from your password reset messages, but do want to honor their request to stop receiving Marketing offers. By default, SparkPost treats your messages as non-Transactional. Designate any Template or Transmission as “Transactional” to bi-pass the Suppression List. Keep in mind — if you designate all your email as Transactional and recipients either opt-out or click “this is spam” but messages continue to go those recipients — your deliverability may suffer as a result. So think about what messages truly deserve to go no matter what vs. your recipients’ desire to opt-out of and designate accordingly.

For an example implementation, check out our user guide: Using Unsubscribe Events

It’s that time of the year again where NetFinance 2013 is upon us.

As the world’s #1 multi-channel marketing conference for financial services, it’s pretty much the event to hear some of the foremost experts and industry leaders talk about the trends in multi-channel marketing.

This year, NetFinance is focusing their lens on three key topics:

Day 2 on multi-channel engagement is of particular interest to us as we’ve always been focused on the benefits a multi-channel strategy can bring to the brand. Being able to engage with customers according to their preferred communication channels? Golden.

Here’s a personal example from my own travel experiences. I was on my way to Columbia for a conference recently and my flight was delayed.

Instead of being told over the PA system that my flight was delayed, which I might have missed for some reason or other, I was informed by the airline through three separate channels of the delay: email, sms and voicemail.

Now I’ve been on delayed flights before, where I gloomily haunted the boarding area for new updates on my situation. However, through the multi-channel strategy employed by this particular airline, I was able to amble around the airport window shopping or grab a meal without fear that I might miss an update on my flight status – whether due to a crackling static filled announcement or being too far away from the boarding gate.

A Multichannel Strategy: The Role of Transactional Email or Text in Financial Services

Aside from the travel and hospitality industry, transactional messages play an incredibly important role in the financial services industry. Transferring money? You want a notification to tell you that your money transfer has been successful. Bought something through PayPal? You want an alert that confirms this transaction. Much as the story of transactional messaging is about real-time confirmation and notification of transactions, it’s also a story about security.

If for some reason someone gained access to your PIN number and withdrew a significant amount of money from your bank account, you’d want an immediate notification from your financial services provider to halt the transfer of your assets immediately.

NetFinance 2013 and Multi-Channel Strategy from the Customer Viewpoint

A key challenge financial companies face in implementing a customer-centric multi-channel strategy is due to technological limitations of disparate legacy systems. It’s all about customer personalization these days. Brands are struggling to provide that experience, which can prove impossible without redesigning their infrastructure.

Here’s where we can provide some guidance. On 1 May at 10.45am at NetFinance 2013, Message Systems will be participating in a panel on multi-channel technology:

Redesigning Corporate Structure To Be More Customer-Centric

Our SVP Barry Abel and Greg Cunningham, SVP Product Head-Digital Channels of City National Bank will take to the stage and talk about how to:

  • Evolve systems & structure it around customer needs in a multi-channel world
  • Redesign systems and records to provide end-to-end customer support
  • Discover technology that provides management of customer communications across multiple channels from a single integrated platform
  • Understand the role compliance plays in a multi-channel environment

Multi-channel doesn’t need to be a Rubik’s cube where only geniuses can get right. Start off with the right technology and get your business on the right foot with customers from the get-go. If you’d like a sneak peek of what might be to come, check out our guide on The New Communications Standard.

The New Communications Standard

The Transactional Email News Digest

[UPDATE: Spamhaus is back online.]

The lead article in this week’s Transactional Email News was supposed to reference a recent article on the Spamhaus blog about the organization’s recently announced spam traps program and issues with transactional email. Yet as of press time here at the Transactional Email News world headquarters, the article isn’t available because the entire Spamhaus site is under a massive distributed denial of service (dDOS) attack. For any senders who might be adversely affected by the unavailability of Spamhaus blocking lists and services, Laura Atkins at the indispensable Word to the Wise blog has some helpful suggestions. Good luck to the Spamhaus team in getting back up and running soon.

Pitfalls of Point of Sale or Transactional Email Address Collection

Related to unavailable Spamhaus piece above: Point of sale collection of email addresses is a pretty popular way of adding to email lists. However, many marketers found themselves on the Spamhaus Black List over the holidays, as a result of POS collection and list quality issues. Due to customers providing incorrect addresses whether on purpose or by accident, businesses ended up sending large volumes of mail to spamtraps. Christine Borgia from ReturnPath warns of such pitfalls and re-emphasizes the need to confirm that such POS email addresses are accurate and that the recipients want the mail.

5 Rules for SaaS Email Marketing and Transactional Messages

The 5 rules for email marketing and transactional messages may seem like common sense:

  • Get Delivered
  • Get to the Inbox
  • Get Opened
  • Get Read
  • Get ‘Em to Take Action

However, this article provides in-depth actionable tips and insight to optimizing content for best results. Here’s a preview in images.

Confirmation Opt-in Checklist
Optimize Emails on Different Platforms
Call To Actions in Emails

Improve customer service & cut communications costs with Transactional Messaging

Last but definitely not least on the list are a couple of webinars of note.

First up from Tor Flatebo at govDELIVERY is a presentation targeted at government organizations looking to cut costs and improve customer service through transactional messaging. Sign up for the webinar if you are interested to learn more!


Second, our own Mike Hillyer, Senior Director of Global Solution Consulting helmed a deliverability webinar in conjunction with David Daniels, known email extraordinaire, CEO of The Relevancy Group and former VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester.  Watch the Six Secrets of Successful Sending webinar to learn how to increase your email deliverability today!

6 Secrets of Successful Sending

Weekly Email Marketing News Digest

In this week’s news, consumer dependence on email is seen through mobile behavior as determined by two separate studies. We also take a look at the missing link in big data strategy and  email marketing best practices that every marketer should take note of before launching a campaign. Oh, and DMARC continues to be in the spotlight! Now that the preview’s over let’s dive in!

Why (And How) Marketers Should Follow DMARC

The DMARC standard now protects almost two-thirds of the world’s 3.3 billion consumer mailboxes worldwide, and was responsible for blocking 325 million unauthenticated messages in November and December 2012 alone. Message Systems Chief Revenue Officer Ralph Lentz dives into the reasons why it’s going to be the industry standard going forward.

Big Data’s Big Omission

Customer identity management is crucial to big data strategy. Customer identity and relationship management is built upon the foundation from three pieces of data: email addresses, postal addresses, and phone numbers. While cookies are important, they are not the be-all and end-all in big data. The crux?

When it comes to big data strategy, email is a necessary component.

85% of Smartphone Users Would Rather Give up Water Than Mobile Apps

Give up mobile apps? Not a chance. 82% of respondents in a mobile app survey say there are critical apps they can’t go without — not even for one day. Those include email (57%), Facebook (41%) and alarm clock apps (31%).


7 Don’ts for Email Marketers

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But you can teach email marketers to optimize their campaigns according to these best practice guidelines:

  • Don’t forget the channel changers. Help your customers send information to another device, set reminders, or use email content while in your store. Cross-channel messaging anyone?
  • Don’t drop the data. Collect device usage data and develop a plan to associate opens, clicks, and conversions to specific mobile devices.
  • Don’t write a book: You can’t expect subscribers to consume massive amounts of text on their mobile devices.
  • Don’t overlook transactional messages: Order and shipping confirmations are sent during a peak engagement period of the customer life cycle. These are highly personal. Consumers are excited over their purchases and open these emails.
  • Don’t short the shortcuts: Test your messages to confirm that mobile subscribers can easily click through to track their orders, call customer service, or get directions to your nearest store.
  • Don’t put prices in pictures: Putting essential information such as pricing, deadlines, and calls-to-action inside images is a big mistake in the mobile age.
  • Don’t say the word ‘blast’ in regard to email marketing.

68% of people use their smartphone for email, 26% for shopping

Want to see how smartphone usage in the US and UK differs? The Nielsen Mobile Consumer Survey has the answer.

In US, the percentage of people who use their phones for:

  • Text – 86%
  • Mobile web – 82%
  • Email – 75%
  • Social networking – 63%

In UK, the percentage of people who use their phones for:

  • Text – 92%
  • Mobile web – 66%
  • Email – 75%
  • Social networking – 63%

As you can see the biggest gap lies in the use of mobile web, where common use is higher by 16% in the US. Text messaging in UK is higher than in the US by 6%.

nielsen-devices-we-use     nielsen-apps-we-use

What do you use your smartphone for? Let us know in the comments below! And if your business is embarking upon a mobile-centric drive to attract new customers, we’d encourage you to have a look at our white paper on mobile messaging – it brings up points of consideration to make your mobile marketing strategy a success.

The New Communications Standard