***Update: Support for Google AMP for Email in SparkPost is here!

Google is bringing its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) capabilities to email. Love it or hate it, AMP has potential to change the way we think about what email can do.

Many of SparkPost’s customers have told us they are interested in experimenting with Gmail’s upcoming AMP for Email capabilities. So I’m happy to announce that we’re working with Google to add support for AMP to the SparkPost service.

What Is Google AMP for Email?

Google AMP for Email is a modified version of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) language and rendering technology. Google’s intent is to give email developers a tool to create interactive and engaging messages.

As a practical matter, AMP for email is implemented as an alternative text/x-amp-html  MIME part containing AMPHTML markup. It lives alongside the usual text/html  and text/plain  parts. When a message contains an AMP part, Gmail will render it instead of the HTML part. Non-AMP clients will continue to render the HTML or plaintext parts. Check out Google’s AMP for Email spec if you’d like more detail.

AMP for Email Use Cases

Google’s pitch for AMP in email focuses on the idea that it enables richer, more interactive emails. For example, users could complete tasks directly in an email notification. Consider scenarios such as:

  • Verifying an email address
  • Acknowledging a security alert
  • Submitting an RSVP to an event
  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Replying to a document comment
  • Filling out a questionnaire

…all directly in the email message. More complex scenarios are possible as well. A Pinterest email, for example, might allow users to view and save a item to a board just as they do within the Pinterest app, but without leaving the email itself.
Another potential use case is those scenarios where email content really needs to be up-to-date and accurate whenever a recipient opens and reads the message. A great example is making sure an airline ticket confirmation always contains up-to-date flight status, departure time, and gate info. This interactive update capability is achieved using AMP’s dynamic content features including amp-bind and amp-list.

AMP also offers a few layout elements for rich presentation options such as carousels, light boxes, and other common design patterns.

AMP for Email and SparkPost

SparkPost is adding support for AMP for Email for our customers who wish to use AMP in their messages. Our initial implementation will provide support for AMP in several ways.

First, we’ll make it easy to send AMP-enabled messages. The SparkPost Transmissions API will support 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 and perform engagement tracking (if enabled) as well as substitutions.

We’ll also support AMP if you’re injecting messages via SMTP. 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 and/or text/plain MIME parts.
A simplified email would look something like this:

From: Person A <persona@gmail.com> 
To: Person B <personb@gmail.com> 
Subject: AMPHTML Email Example
Content-Type: text/plain;
...plain text version of message...
Content-Type: text/x-amp-html;
...AMPHTML Email version of message…
Content-Type: text/html;
...HTML version of message...

Second, we will offer AMP-specific engagement metrics. Basic engagement tracking for opens and clicks will be supported through an AMP-specific tracking pixel. We will provide Message Events and webhook event data, allowing you to compare AMP opens and clicks versus traditional HTML opens and clicks. Down the road, we may provide additional, advanced engagement tracking for AMP messages, depending upon our customers’ needs.

Last, but not least, we are adding support for AMP in our templates, including metadata and substitution data in a template’s AMP MIME part.

Getting Started with AMP for Email

AMP for Email currently is in limited testing as a Gmail developer preview. The AMP for Email spec is available today, and developers can start testing out AMP for Email markup with this playground. Google has said they plan to go live with AMP in Gmail by the end of the year.

In the meantime, if you’d like to be kept in the loop with SparkPost’s support for Google AMP for Email—and perhaps be included as part of our first group of users to gather feedback—please sign up as a SparkPost beta tester.

We’d love to get your thoughts about Google AMP for Email and what advanced engagement tracking you’d like to see around your AMP email campaigns. Plus, it’s great just to hear whether or not you’re excited about this. Either way, tweet us or join the conversation in our Community Slack!

—Isaac Kim
Technical Product Manager